Throughout history, society has embedded in our minds the belief that a woman’s main focus should be motherhood and maintaining the household. While a man’s role in society is to be the breadwinner, a woman should stay at home all day cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and tending to her children’s every need.
Now, women have come a long way from these “prehistoric” notions. However, some of these perspectives have found a way to trickle into generation after generation.
While most women have now had the choice to go to work and pursue an education, some roles still have not been broken through. For example, growing up, my mom rarely ever went out.
Girl’s night out? My mom could never. She barely even had any friends, mainly because she did not have the time or energy to keep up with friendships.
As an adult, I can see how this could have been damaging to my mom’s mental health and self-esteem. She was forced to base her identity solely on motherhood.
She missed the opportunity to explore her persona and had to embark on a rather isolating journey. She was a mother before a woman.
While motherhood is one of the most rewarding experiences, it is also one of the most challenging. You can very well love your children with all your heart and still need time to yourself.
It may be difficult to break from this mold society has imposed upon us women, but here is how I have slowly been teaching my family to let go of these harmful traditions.
Advocate For Your Mental Health
While the topic of mental health seems to be taking over social media, and some may be speaking about it only because it is “trendy”, in reality, it is extremely important.
Although moms may sport this demeanor of being almighty and powerful, they need rest and relaxation just like everyone else. They are only human, after all.
Teaching my family about mental health and how it impacts us every day has helped them understand its importance. Besides blankly reading self-help books, it is making a conscious effort to practice self-care and do things that bring you joy, like a night out with your friends.
If going out with your friends once a month to drink a couple of margaritas will bring you happiness, then so be it. You don’t need anyone’s approval but your own. This way, you will feel more energized to parent your children instead of pouring from an empty cup.
Schedule “Me Time”
Look, most of the time, our family won’t notice that you need a break unless you specifically ask for one. Instead of waiting around until you are running on “empty,” make it a point to take a break periodically. Besides the obvious factors of having childcare under control, you should not have to wait until someone offers to give you a break.
Similar to advocating for your mental health, make sure you have time set aside periodically in which you focus on yourself and your needs. Get a mani-pedi, retouch your hair color at the salon, attend a yoga class, have a night out with your friends — anything that will help you recharge and bring you happiness.
This will show your family the importance of taking time to do things for themselves and learning to respect others’ boundaries.
Sometimes, moms can feel as if they’re drowning. They feel as if they are cracking under pressure, and no one cares to notice. While you would hope that your family would automatically know when you need help, it is essential to speak up.
Everyone expresses themselves differently, so you cannot expect those closest to you to always pick up on the cues for when you’re feeling distressed.
Honesty is always the best policy. Harmful traditions of relying too heavily on moms and not giving them the space to breathe and be themselves will never be broken if you do not speak openly and honestly.
It is important to teach our families to break free from damaging beliefs so the cycle can end here and now.