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Ask how motherhood has changed your life and there would be a long list of things that would come to your mind. Right? Celebrate all of them!
Oh those never ending sleepless nights, colic cries, terrible twos and mealtime tantrums…There’s just no end to it.
Most of this is manageable though. Trust me, really! Because this is something women love sharing with other mothers. As they understand that this is going to be a part and parcel of every mum’s life, things become easier.
But that’s not all. With motherhood comes a series of imperfections, questions and self-doubts – which are often not shared and are not easy to handle either. You have gone through months and months of pain and hard work and what do you get in return? Stretch marks, sagging skin, lose tummy and swollen ankles? Some of you may choose to take a career break but are questioned. And those who continue with their work, often face sexist remarks at workplace.
Isn’t that overwhelming? Yes, it is… very much. But it is equally important to deal with these thoughts instead of cringing and killing your confidence.
A recent research shows that after having kids, women’s self-esteem dips for at least three years. The study led by researchers at the University of Tilberg noted several possible reasons for this decline in self-esteem. Along with stress over child’s development, women were often bogged down due to their own physical changes, rampant hormones and worry about the future.
I know that feeling because I have battled it myself. Becoming a mother is easy but embracing motherhood is a task. As soon as you are set with the little one’s lifestyle and demands, you start noticing the changes this phase has brought in you – and it’s not very pleasing.
Here starts the journey of shattered confidence, low self-esteem and serious doubts that serve as a roadblock in bringing you back on track. The longer this journey, more serious would be the repercussions. One of this includes depression.
If you thought that life after a child would ever be the same then it’s time to get a reality check. There’s a new life added to your family and to yourself. There will of course be lots of changes. But does that mean these changes are your imperfections? The answer is a big fat NO.
Every little or big change that you see in yourself is a sign of pride because you have done something terrific. Believe me.
Any other thought that discourages you, should be crushed. Remember ‘What consumes your mind, controls your life’.
Here are some simple ways with which you can deal with negative emotions and doubts about yourself.
Accept the changes
Living in a state of denial is the biggest hurdle in your way. As much chewed up and clichéd as it may sound, but change is the only constant. You have changed too and for good. Yes, life would not be the same and the faster you accept this, more quickly you can design your life to suit the new demands. Also, accepting this new phase definitely does not mean that your personal life, hobbies, profession or love have to surrender. Things will fall in place as you work towards it and believe in yourself.
“As you become more clear about who you really are, you’ll be better able to decide what is best for you – the first time around.” – Oprah Winfrey
Find your Tribe
Tired of the neighbourhood aunty giving you unwanted free advice or your own relative making fun of your tears and passing comments on your low patience? Chuck them out, now. They will make only make you feel worse. Instead, find people who can actually empathise and relate to your situation. Now with internet, there are several groups and communities you can join and share your thoughts with.
Take it slow honey – you have nothing to fear
As much as we take pride in bouncing back to normal at the earliest, it may be detrimental in reality. Of course, some women may find it naturally easy to fit in the regular routine faster than others. However, there is undue pressure in general that expects new mothers to become a superwoman and make things as they were before. We want to lose that weight, look our best, and flaunt our super mommy avatar just as our favourite celebrity.
For once, ask yourself – why? For whom are you doing this? If you think people would be impressed by it, they never will. Think only of yourself, and that doesn’t make you selfish. And if you still think you are fat, dull, weak or whatever, go to point number 1.
Serena Williams said, “Since I don’t look like every other girl, it takes a while to be okay with that. To be different. But different is good.” We know this well and yet end up making the mistake, only to harm self. All of us have different battles to fight. Naturally, our weapons would be different. Why waste time comparing?
When I took a year-long sabbatical after delivery, I saw several of my female colleagues and girlfriends working even after having kids. Could I have done it? Perhaps yes, but I wouldn’t have been happy. I joined work after a year with better energy and enthusiasm.
Value the present
Studies prove that women are twice as likely to worry as men. It is also true that most of our anxieties are related either to the past or future. I personally feel challenged when breaking the habit of brooding over the past or worrying about the future. Living in the present moment is an art and requires a lot of practice. Yes certain techniques such as yoga and meditation do help.
Don’t shy away to seek professional help
Listen up carefully, girl… If things don’t improve, do seek professional help. You might come across nonsense like ‘there is no such thing as depression’ or ‘it’s temporary and would go away with time’ or ‘women have been bringing up children since ages’. No matter how close you are to your friends, family and well-wishers, nothing matches the expertise of a professional.
According to World Health Organization, about 20 mothers in developing countries experience clinical depression after childbirth. Mental health problem causes inability to function normally and reduces sensitivity to child’s needs.
An unhappy mother will never raise happy children. Unfortunately, mental health issues are still considered a taboo in our society, but ignoring the symptoms would help no one and cause severe irreversible damage to you and your child.
Before a mother, daughter, wife and anything else, you are you. A woman before and after a child is as complete as ever, and needs no validation for this. But before you flaunt that killer confidence to the world, promise to love yourself. Motherhood is beautiful, only when you show off every imperfection as a medal.
Image source: shutterstock
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