Grief can be very surprising, especially as a motherless mother.
The unexpected passing of my beloved mother prior to falling pregnant was the first time I had truly grieved.
The range of emotions that I felt and the depths of sorrow were some of biggest low points in my life, but over the following weeks and months I managed to pick myself up and even fall pregnant with our first child.
However, when I embarked on my new journey into motherhood, I was hit again with those feelings. It certainly took me by surprise! I began mourning the loss of my former self; the quintessential city girl who had enjoyed a ten year long career, working hard to put in the extra hours to climb the proverbial corporate ladder.
I thought maternity leave would involve long afternoon naps and lazy coffees with friends, while my son sported the latest designer threads whilst sitting quietly next to me cooing ‘mama’. But alas, I found myself spending my days sitting on my couch in my comfy trakkies and ugg boots while breast-feeding and trying to respond to the immediate needs of my son.
I also started grieving my mother again.
I had prepared myself for the idea that a new mum often needs to be mothered herself, during this time of emotional upheaval and when we feel our least confident.
However I was unprepared for the pangs on envy I felt when I saw new mums with their own mums sitting in cafes together with the new grandchild in the pram nearby, or seeing heavily pregnant ladies shopping for newborn items with the help of their very knowledgeable mums.
I would bite my tongue everytime I heard a friend complain about their interfering or all-knowing mums who were so excited and involved in their lives, secretly thinking to myself, “Well at least you have your mum alive to help you, so stop complaining!”
I felt like it wasn’t fair that I did not have my mother who was my emotional safety net, and why was I forced to meet my own emotional needs all by myself when I was going through such a huge transition?
As I felt myself starting on a downward spiral, I stopped and turned to mindfulness.
What is mindfulness? How can Motherless Mothers foster the technique?
Mindfulness means a complete awareness of the present moment, and a deep understanding of the realities of the present moment.
Cultivating mindfulness allows a clear comprehension of the present situation, to alleviate any feelings of fear or apprehension when presented with a future unfamiliar environment.
To have mindfulness as a motherless mother provides a huge sense of empowerment.
I developed self-confidence I never knew I could possess, but realised was much needed in motherhood. I was suddenly able to tap into an innate and instinctual ability to know what was best for my son. I couldn’t defer to my mother for her wisdom, so I became the sole keeper of my son’s wants and needs…and it was so rewarding!
What I have come to realise is that even when faced with life situations that are less than ideal, it can actually be better for us.
I don’t depend on anyone else so won’t feel ‘abandoned’ when that person isn’t there later on in motherhood. I have learnt all the skills on my own and have more knowledge and wisdom than I thought I could have, had I depended on another for their insights.
My tips for cultivating mindfulness
You don’t have to be a motherless mother.
These are useful for any of us who are facing an internal emotional struggle of who we are vs. who we used to be. Or it can be employed if you’re simply struggling with the many conflicting emotions that can be part of motherhood;
- Give yourself a break. Dedicate part of your day, even if it is half an hour, to doing something self-indulgent. It could be as simple as putting your feet up on the couch and watching your favourite TV show or curling up with a magazine. The key is to focus your mind away from your day.
- Don’t look backwards or forwards. Sometimes it is very easy to focus on the ‘what ifs’ or the ‘what has been’. This can be dangerous, particularly if we are forgetting the present. Focus on what is needed here and now.
- Believe in yourself. You are the best person for your child, you know what is best and no-one else.
- Allow yourself to make mistakes. We are only human and not infallible. The best way to learn and develop a new skill is by acknowledging and understanding our mistakes.
- Enjoy the journey! Give yourself the chance to stop and smell the roses and to see life for its humour, light and wonder. The thorns merely provide the lessons we need to garner knowledge and wisdom.