I felt shame. I feared judgement. I felt a complete failure. As I looked around the room at my first mothers group 13 years ago I sat quietly and observed. There was the mum whose baby slept on the floor, in her arms, in the pram anywhere at anytime. Lucky her, I thought to myself. There was the mum whose hair was blow dried, make up on, heels, clean clothes and whose figure bounced back to pre baby within weeks. I’m jealous I felt. There were mums who clicked with each other and were organising the next catch up. I wish that was me my inner thoughts continued. I felt like I was living behind a glass wall. One I couldn’t seem to break. I was struggling as a first time mum, I was struggling to leave the house and fit in life around sleep times and feed times. But I never said anything to anyone. I was struggling with my emotions and my crazy mind. My baby never slept, he had reflux so cried all the time. Once it took me four hours to peel three potatoes. I was always watching the clock; he would only sleep for exactly 35 minutes to the second then when he woke he refused to resettle. My over whelming emotions continued on and off into toddler hood. One day blurred into the next and my life as I once new it had disappeared. But more importantly I needed help but was to afraid to ask.
I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want to be a failure, but I was failing and needed help. I didn’t want to be judged as a terrible mother. I wanted to be a good mother but was embarrassed that I wasn’t. All these reasons caused me to keep all my concerns to myself. Why did it seem that everyone else was enjoying motherhood and I just couldn’t do it?
Fast forward over a decade and fortunately I was given another opportunity when I gave birth to my daughter. Thankfully the entire experience was wonderful and came naturally but I have never forgotten those feelings and how I feared the judgement of others.
Now as a therapist and a fire in my belly to help mums who are struggling I know the barriers mums face when they need to put their hand out for help. Recently I asked a group of mums what their fear was in asking help and their answer was unanimous. Fear of judgement. It saddens me that we fear judgement so much that we hide instead of reaching out. Let me tell you, as I sat in front of these mums I was in awe of them. They had taken action, braved exposure and put all their fears aside so they can grow as a person and as a mother. What a wonderful example they are to their children and to other mums.
The relief I see on a mum’s face when I ask her how she really feels honestly fills my heart. Someone is finally listening to her. It is a privilege to sit across from these mums. And as a mum myself I refuse to let fear of judgement stand in my way ever again. I encourage you to do the same.