Most working mothers bear some guilt about balancing home and work. It’s so difficult to be productive on the job and come home and raise kids, too. However, there is a certain kind of mother who has a more specific plight—she didn’t really want kids in the first place. There may be various reasons she had children such as societal pressures, desires of her spouse, and accidental pregnancy Her guilt is particularly difficult because she feels so ambivalent about being a mother.
This mother clearly decided, however, once her kids were born that she would do her very best to be a good mother. She becomes deeply attached to her kids despite her feelings about wishing she was just a working woman. She may go out of her way, even more than most working mothers, to provide excellent child care when she is at work and to spend time with her children when she’s at home.
However, there is always that nagging doubt that she is doing a good enough job as a mother because deep inside she bears some resentment that just won’t go away. The guilt can be unbearable and so she tries even harder to be an excellent parent.
Tips For Women Ambivalent About Motherhood
1. Let yourself know that you are entitled to your feelings. Your resentment doesn’t make you a bad person, just a confused one. Give yourself an emotional break from judging yourself harshly.
2. Learn to use resources in your environment to help you with your kids. Providing good child care is essential and that shows how much you
think about being a good mother. Give yourself credit for taking the time to interview the best person to take care of your kids when you’re away from home.
3. Be open with your partner about your feelings. Ask your partner to pick up the slack and co-parent with you effectively. If it was your partner who really wanted a family with kids, let him or her shoulder a lot of the parenting job. This doesn’t mean you are less of a person. It just means you’re honest and this relieves guilt tremendously.
4. Get to know each child individually so you learn to accept them for who they are. Listen carefully to their thoughts, ideas and feelings. You will discover you enjoy your motherhood more fully when you really understand what’s on your child’s mind.
5. When you find yourself yelling at your kids, give some thought to what you are yelling about. Is it that they didn’t do exactly what you asked, or is the resentment surfacing? That’s the time to reflect on your feelings about having kids and not misdirect your emotions by becoming overbearing about some minor, common misbehaviors.
6.You may find that certain ages of kids are more to your liking. If for example infancy and toddlerhood were particularly difficult because of the focused attention these little ones need, look forward to later developmental stages when you can converse more easily with your children. You may find that then you feel you are getting more back from them instead of feeling worn out by their needs
7. Ease your guilt about motherhood by being proud of yourself as a productive working woman in society. This is an accomplishment that shouldn’t be diminished because you feel that pull to be a good mother, too. Applaud your achievements and in fact, as your kids get older, share them. Let them know what you do all day and you will be a model for them.
Most important is that you accept yourself as you are. No one meets everyone’s needs all the time and it is essential that you feel your self-worth as a working woman doing what she likes and is effective at. Try and shrug off society’s and other people’s pressures to be someone you’re not. Give to your kids surely, but not at the expense of taking your needs into account. If you are self-satisfied as a person, it’s going to make you a more effective parent.
Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst, and author of Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior found on Amazon and wherever books are sold. Visit her website: www.lauriehollmanphd.com.