Carrying around the ‘shoulds’ and ‘have to’ of being a mum is exhausting.
It’s not called the ‘weight’ of expectations for nothing!
Expectations are things we grow up with.
They create boundaries and provide guidance. For example you are expected to walk before the age of 12-15 months otherwise this is a clear sign of a problem with development.
You are expected to do your homework, obey the teacher, eat your dinner etc….
A lot of expectations are in keeping with how society and families encourage behaviour and growth for the good of your development and that of the community.
The broad aim is for you to become a functional human being who makes a positive contribution to society. Then there are individual family differences based on culture, religion, family structure, birth order, personality etc.
As you entered adolescence you probably rebelled at many/some of these expectations, but you probably also carried many of them into adulthood.
Then you become an adult, and on top of family of origin and society expectations you now have expectations from your work place and expectations from your partner, AND THEN you have children!
And, if that’s not enough you also have the thick layer of consumer ‘expectations’. In a world where economic growth is still valued above all else we seem to have really internalised the ‘greed is good’ doctrine in our society. You are encouraged to buy, to have more, to be good consumers. It is an insidious expectation.
So, what happens when you step back, when you become the observer, when you listen to your noticing self and see the reality of your expectations?
You can see the ‘shoulds’ and ‘have tos’ for what they really are; they aren’t rules by which you have to live by, they aren’t absolute truths, they are just thoughts your mind is holding on to (sometimes in a vice like grip!).
By seeing this you can you can choose to let go of expectations that have no meaning or satisfaction for you.
Knowing this you can choose.
I don’t know the expectations you are carrying.
I do know thought, that as a mother when I brought my first baby home I wanted nothing to mar his perfection. I wanted no harm to come to him, no heartbreak, no pain…
But that is wishful thinking.
No matter what you do as a mother you cannot protect your child from life.
In regards to other expectations you have choices.
You can choose to participate in activities that you value. That bring joy to your heart and that of your family.
You can choose activities that focus on kindness, gratitude, togetherness.
You can choose say NO and choose to say YES.
There is a lot of freedom that comes with being an adult and having so many choices to make.
We might feel the heavy weight of expectations, but when we lose that weight it is not just freeing, it also exposes us and makes it vulnerable.
And it can take a lot of courage to lose that weight and stride out on your own path.
For when you stand as an adult in your authentic self, it can feel that you walk alone.
Over time with greater confidence in your authentic self, the aloneness is replaced by a deeper connection with yourself, with others and with the natural world.
Take care of yourself
* My aim is for these posts is meant to useful, interesting and/or inspiring. They are not designed to be used for therapy.. If you are experiencing stress please contact your GP or mental health professional.
Kim Dunn is a Child Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds.