Why we feel like we’re failing at motherhood
The way we were mothered holds all the answers
I read an article a few years ago when researching ‘birth plans’. A mother decided to let the umbilical cord fall away naturally instead of clamping it at birth. She preserved it in an ice bag and carried her baby everywhere for seven days till the connection slowly severed. She was onto something.
Delayed umbilical cord clamping, according to WHO and prominent medical bodies, has innumerable benefits, such as increased blood flow, nutrients and long-term neurological benefits.
The mother cord. Whether we chose to stay physically connected to our children for seconds, minutes or days, we forever remain their source — of life, of self, of love, just as our mothers were ours.
But what if our source was sullied? Corrupted by damage? What then? Is our mother’s damage ours? Is her pain passed on? When a mother is unable to meet all of her child’s needs, the child suffers. But then, is anyone ever able to give wholly like the umbilical cord that withers away after serving its cause?
Perhaps if we admit that we come from imperfection, we would see ourselves in plain sight and begin to piece together our broken parts. What we see, we can heal. But how do you begin to see the unseen? It’s difficult to find the answers when we’re trapped in our minds. Start asking yourself:
- Why do we do things we know aren’t serving us?
- Why do we let people in our lives treat us a certain way when we know it’s breaking us?
- Why do we treat people in ways we know are unfair?
- And above all, why can’t we handle motherhood the way we want to?
It took me a few painful years to admit to my imperfect mothering. I wasn’t the mother I hoped I would be. Far from it. I was guilty of making mistakes my mother had made. Mistakes that weren’t even hers… They belonged to her mother, and her mother’s mother and her great grandmother… you get the picture. I was the product of a lineage of emotional sloppiness, as was she. The scars ran deep.
Here’s the undeniable truth: The way we are mothered is our version of unconditional love. And so, we give love the only way we know how to. How do you break this pattern? Look at the person who nurtured you, physically put pen to paper and answer: How does she treat herself? How does she navigate pain? How is she broken? Who wounded her?
Just this is everything. It’s a place to begin; your very own personal compass pointing inward. The way she treats herself is the way you care for you. The way she navigates pain is the way you process yours. Her brokenness birthed you. The relationships that scarred her will reappear in your life.
The mother wound holds the heart of our suffering. The way we’ve been failed is how we will fail our children. Unless we stop, unless we see, unless we admit that everything we come from is inherently flawed and begin to be aware of our shortcomings.
Let your mother fall from the pedestal you placed her on. She was never meant to be out of your reach. When you embrace her imperfection wholly, you will learn to finally cut the cord.
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