Happy mothering is healthy mothering

© Glow Images. Models used for illustrative purposes

© Glow Images. Models used for illustrative purposes

Today’s woman multi-tasks. She’s a wife, mother, aunt, daughter, sister, and work colleague. She juggles employment, study, home duties, children, care of elderly relatives, school, sport and community activities, to name a few. Trying to fit everything in can be demanding.  It can cause a seemingly ordinary female, to turn into a kind of Superwoman, and sometimes this can be stressful.

That’s why each year, Mother’s Day celebrates the contribution women make to family life. Traditionally it’s a time when chocolates, flowers, cards, or gifts are given to a mother from appreciative offspring as an expression of gratitude. These loving gestures acknowledge the importance of mothering.

My earliest recollection of Mother’s Day was the morning I proudly carried the breakfast tray into my mother’s room for the first time. Serving my Mum breakfast in bed was my way of thanking her for the love and caring she was giving me. Of course, I didn’t understand then that it isn’t easy to be a wife, raise children, manage a household, contribute an income and at the same time remain happy and healthy.

Even with the help of numerous labour-saving devices, the list of things to do doesn’t  get any shorter. In fact, these aids simply allow more and more activities to be added to the daily routine.  Keeping on top of it all can be stressful and lead to depression and unhappiness.   So what’s the answer?

According to psychologist Lynn Bufka, Ph.D. “Mothers often put their family needs first and neglect their own. It’s okay”, she says, “to relax your standards – don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself to have the ‘perfect’ house or be the ‘perfect’ mother. No one expects you to be Superwoman.”

That’s why Bufka suggests, that women, Put things in perspective–make time for what’s really important. Prioritize and delegate responsibilities. Identify ways your family and friends can lessen your load so that you can take a break. Delay or say no to less important tasks.”

That’s good advice. In fact it’s something I had to learn in my own life. Always busy and agreeing to take on everything that was asked of me, I tried to become “superwoman” and accomplish it all. Eventually I became unhappy, stressed out, and physically and mentally exhausted.  I did the usual stress-reducing things like taking short walks, talking things out with my husband, and accepting help from others. Nothing seemed to work. So I decided to try meditation and prayer – to re-think what I was doing with my life.

The words of an old poem by Englishman W.D. Longstaff, came to thought. “Take time to be holy, Be calm in thy soul; Each thought and each motive beneath His control.”  I wrote down all the tasks I was engaged in, and was shocked to realize that there was barely time to slow down and breathe. Suddenly it dawned on me. I wasn’t superwoman, nor was I meant to be. Instead of adding to my ‘to do’ list, I needed to stop, think, and consider whether a request was something I should undertake.

This idea was put to the test when the phone rang at 11pm that same night. A woman who suffered with poor vision, asked me to back her car down her narrow driveway. Just as I was about to agree, get out of bed, and drive across town, I thought about my morning inspiration. I told her that I wouldn’t come over, but instead would pray with her for a solution. Fifteen minutes later, she called again. Out of the blue, the man next door who’d noticed her porch light on, offered to move her car.

I was delighted with the outcome. It had been hard to say no.  Nevertheless, that night was a life-changer for me. It made me stop acting like superwoman, and prioritize my activities. Now if I add something to my ’to do’ list, I also drop something off. Before saying “yes” to something, I stop and think first. I’ve stopped feeling guilty if I decline. Most importantly, I make time each day to meditate, pray. As a result the stress has gone. I feel happy and healthy again.

Now each year when Mother’s Day arrives, I remember with gratitude the nurturing my mother gave me. Also the selfless caring that women around the world give their own children and others. Like me, they may wish sometimes that they were “superwoman” – able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Yet with the help of a divine Mother-love we can all fulfill our tasks with happiness, poise and grace.

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I'm a Melbourne based health writer who provides a perspective on the connection between spirituality, thought and health. As a keen blogger, my aim is to provide the public with a diversity of health content including research into the mind-body connection and how thought affects health.

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Comments

  1. Mike says

    Your comments have nudged me into being much more grateful for the many ways in which my mother happily cared for our family in the past. Your post has also given me a greater appreciation of the diverse and important roles of women in our society. The thoughtful prioritizing and control of one’s commitments is a great idea!

    • says

      Thanks Mike for your comment. Mothers do a great job – Dads do too. They deserve to be happy and healthy given all that they do for their loved ones. I hope that every mother has a wonderful Mother’s Day on Sunday.

  2. Keziah says

    Hi there Beverly, there is a paragraph in your article that begins,
    “That’s why Bufka suggests”. I absolutely agree with her that as a mother, as a parent we must teach our children responsibility and self reliance all through their development so that they grow to understand the importance of caring for self as well as caring for others. It is essential education for them and lightens the mothers/parents load. I am sure that there is a spiritual dimension here to make us thoughtful, caring, self sufficient people and share the mothering load.
    I guess ‘Mothers Day’ reminds us of the depth and breadth of good mothering wherever and however it takes place. Thanks for another great article that makes us stop and think!

    • says

      Thank you Keziah for your comment. I agree with you that helping each family member share the load in a household, ensures that mothers don’t need to become ‘superwomen’. A spiritual dimension can make us all more thoughtful, caring, self sufficient people.

  3. Yvonne says

    Dear Beverley. A lovely blog. I was an only child born during the Depression and my Mother was a very strong woman and had to battle at times making ends meet. However I didn’t go without loving care and comfort. I attended Sunday School. When my Father was away at the war my Mum kept the home fires burning. I had a happy childhood and any so called illnesses were healed very quickly through her understanding of Christian Science. I am very grateful to have had such a wonderful mother to guide me.

    • says

      Thank you Yvonne for your comment. I am so glad that you had wonderful mothering …and during such difficult times in the world. It sounds like your mother’s spiritual thinking helped her get through those tough periods and to give you her very best love and care.

  4. says

    Thank you Ann for using my post for Mother’s Day as a guest blog. I trust that you and your daughters, and all mothers in New Zealand, had a happy time together and found love and strength in sharing your achievements as mothers. Nothing can replace a mother’s love for her children. I will always be grateful for my own mother’s generous love and care.

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  1. [...] My earliest recollection of Mother’s Day was the morning I proudly carried the breakfast tray into my mother’s room for the first time. Serving my Mum breakfast in bed was my way of thanking her for the love and caring she was giving me. Of course, I didn’t understand then that it isn’t easy to be a wife, raise children, manage a household, contribute an income and at the same time remain happy and healthy.  Continue reading [...]