Mothers Have Needs Too!

Allison Gilbert, LMFT, Santa Cruz Counselor Lic: MFC 24087

Mothers Have Needs Too!

Mothers Have Needs Too!

Mother's work is 24/7 with no bathroom breaks. The job requires wisdom, intelligence, patience, skill, physical labor, & inner strength, yet gives little recognition & no pay. In fact, the world gets a free ride on the backs of dedicated mothers willing to perform this selfless service out of the deep and abiding love they have for their children.

You Are Important!

Women have a natural talent and skill to be nurturers. This allows them to be able focus on the needs of others. Some women have the knack for knowing just how to meet other's needs before they are even articulated. This is a skill that fosters safety and security in the children who are lucky enough to have nurturing mothers. It enables children to grow in self-confidence and self-esteem. Unfortunately, this skill can sometimes make it hard for mothers to remember to occasionally focus on themselves.

The danger is that if you don't meet your own needs, mothering can become a drain of precious energy. You might find that your patience grows thin and your marriage becomes strained or you may find yourself resenting the job of motherhood. The entire family can lose when their source of emotional support is unable to be there with the enthusiasm that is needed. You are an important lifeline for your family. When you are caring for others in this way, you will need to get support for yourself to continue to do this job well.

Mothers Need Support
Our culture values independence. The word, "dependence" is usually associated with the weak and powerless. When you become a mother, you become dependent in a lot of ways but this doesn't necessarily mean you have to be weak and powerless. In fact, if you are raising young children, you couldn't possibly be weak and powerless. It takes a lot of strength to raise children and to manage a household. Giving birth itself takes physical and emotional strength. After giving birth, your body will need to recover as you transition into the new life of caring for a baby. People bring packages of food and sometimes a parent or in-law will stay to help. This is a fact of family life - we are interdependent with one another and we care for and about each other. Your parents and husband and extended family care for you as you care for your children and eventually you will care for your parents as they age, just as your children will care for you. (See In The Shelter Of Each Other, by Mary Pipher)

The tricky thing about all this is to know how to care for yourself when you are a caregiver. Sometimes it's simply knowing how to ask for support when you need it. Caregiving can be an all-consuming occupation where the focus is on the other person's needs, be that person a child or an elder. It can be exhausting and isolating. Caregivers benefit from the support of others so that they can do their job well. This is where family, support groups, parenting classes, co-ops, therapy groups, private psychotherapy or
counseling can help. Getting the support you need can make all the difference in your caregiving.

Support Groups and Psychotherapy

Support groups and co-ops are ways to find peers to support you through this time in your life. The isolation will be broken when you find that there are other people who experience the same things that you do. You will be renewed through developing friendships and connections with others. Caring for yourself by having someone to talk to is invaluable for a mother. But sometimes there are things that are not very easy to discuss with friends and then it helps to have a counselor or therapist to talk to.

Counseling can help. Sometimes just knowing you have set aside this special time just for *you* can make all the difference in the world. When you get to talk to a psychotherapist or a counselor, your needs, feelings and questions are your only focus. Just having that uninterrupted time to be heard and to hear yourself can rejuvenate your whole outlook. You'll become better at meeting your own needs too. You'll begin to remember your values, interests and joys. Caring for yourself in this way reawakens a profound understanding of how important you are. You'll feel a renewed sense of pride in the job of motherhood and will have more energy to mother with love.

2007 Allison Gilbert, LMFT