Sometimes the easiest tasks can seem daunting and the pressure of performing and succeeding suffocates us. But where does the real pressure come from? If I am being completely honest, it almost always comes from me and not from the people around me. I imagine that others expect me to behave or act in a certain way, but if I am being really honest I don’t think they care that much about what or how I do things (they are probably busy feeling overwhelmed by their own self created pressure of perfection). I put a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself in regards to so many things in my life, and then at times I get overwhelmed. I am constantly working on lowering the high standard I put for myself and let go of my need to be in control. Not easy, but totally doable!
I posted a short caption to an instagram picture last month and got more comments of recognition and support than I expected. As so many times, I thought I was alone in feeling a certain way. The only mother who feels overwhelmed by her own children. The only person who feels like I am weak and not up to a certain standard set by the women before me. Overwhelmed by something I choose myself, something that no one forced me or pushed me to do, is that even allowed? It is! And I do know that more than me feel that way. And not only mothers who are taking care of one or multiple children at a time. The feeling of not being enough has most likely hit us all at some point. And even though there might be some parental influence for you that affects your expectations of yourself, I’m gonna go ahead and put some of the responsibility back on you. Because I do believe a lot of times the pressure of performing in a certain way or succeeding is set in our own mind by our own self.
“Many people have done it before me, therefore so can I”. Something I’ve told myself many times when faced with something difficult. Events such as passing my drivers licence test, graduating university and becoming a mother just to name a few. It is my mantra and it is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it gives me motivation to know that others have gotten through what I am going through and came out on the other side just fine. And on the other hand, it can create pressure if I feel like I cannot follow through or create the same result as others before me. A good example of when it helped was preparing mentally for labor. Such an uncertain moment to prepare for because you cannot really prepare. But knowing that so many mothers before me had given birth in so many different ways gave me strength and confidence that I could do it too! An example of when it might not serve me as well is thinking of all the stay-at-home mothers with 2 or even more kids that they take care of all day. Leaving me asking myself: So why can I only last 2h with my two children before I am ready to have a meltdown similar to what my toddler has?
So does the stay-at-home-mothers judge me and expect me to also enjoy spending full days with my children? Maybe they do, but most likely they do not. They are probably too busy taking care of their children and themselves to give my life and my choices too much thought. So why am I feeling threatened by others (who most likely don’t even care) and why do I feel the need to compare me as mother to someone else, anyone else? I don’t have the answer unfortunately and as I ponder on the “why” I get stuck. Maybe it is social media again and the newly presented window into other peoples lives that creates the pressure? Maybe it is past experiences and the wish to perform similar to someone else in my life? Maybe it is a comment from someone, interpreted by me that I am not doing it right? Whatever the created pressure, I am still pretty convinced that for me it is mostly in my own mind and not someone telling me I should behave or perform in a certain way.
So back to the feeling of being overwhelmed by my children. I like to be in control.Guess what, not a lot of that in my life right now :) And let's face it, I will never have control over my children (hopefully a bit more once they actually understand what I am asking them). I have to learn to be ok with that. I also want to compromise a bit with myself though. I cannot control my children and their actions which makes me stressed, I can however control how I spend my days and who my kids will benefit most from being around all day. For us that means I work during the weekdays while a nanny takes care of our children. So what it comes down to for me is self care and self love. I value my time and emotions more than the expectations I create in my head and stick to my guts on my decisions. It takes a lot of positive self talk and usually some journaling to get there, but the clarity is usually hidden somewhere in there. And I can say that society or family puts the pressure on me, but I know that for me that is not the whole truth. I have to be strong enough in myself to go my own way and then this wonderful thing happens. I don’t care what others think.