Have you ever struggled with accepting help when needed? How about believing “yes you can accomplish it all” to then find yourself overwhelmed?
One of my biggest struggles is accepting help or even asking for help when I need it the most. When I became the mother of my sweet little girl almost 4 years ago, I truly felt like I had to be able to do it all. I felt it was MY sole responsibility to master all trades of motherhood, marriage, house chores and beyond. Then came my little man, now 11 months old, crawling all over the place and my toddler dancing around the house constantly, only to realize my tasks doubled! My perception consisted of the belief that women were built with the capacity to make it all happen and that my value as a mother and wife depended on how well my job was done. As you probably guessed it, in return I battled with constant disappointments because I wasn’t getting the job done. Many friends and family kept insisting to help me with anything that I needed. The thought of someone else watching my children so I can “relax or sleep” felt so wrong. Why should someone else watch MY kids?
Meanwhile, I realized that sometimes it is OK to not be OK. Here are 4 valuable lessons I learned through these struggles:
- Time Management: I struggled with the belief that I should be able to accomplish everything in a timely manner. After all, aren’t all women designed to accomplish this? Weren’t we created with super women powers and get everything done? As I kept trying every skill and every tool, there wasn’t enough time or energy left to do everything my mind was telling me to do. Therefore, time management was no longer what I thought it was. Time management had a new meaning and it did not mean to get everything done. I learned that time management meant it was OK for me to break down at times and take the time to breathe because I am doing the best I can do.
- Guilt: We tend to forget ourselves almost instantly after giving birth to our child. The first few weeks and months we are trained to function without sleep and that sweet bundle of joy requires so much attention. Then, guilt pays us a little visit and makes us believe that we are neglecting our spouses and older children. What do our instincts tell us to do next? Make it happen at the expense of our mental health. What guilt taught me was that yes, it is OK to recognize that I am not the same woman I once was. Instead I am a better version of whom I used to be. So it is OK to mourn the loss of the old me and it will take some adjusting and transition for my husband and older child to get to know the new and better me.
- Support: During these times I was able to see many helping hands and realized who my support system was. However, we tend to believe the misconception that we are alone and act upon it almost automatically and subconsciously. No one wakes up saying “today I will overwhelm myself”. I learned to not rely on my automatic responses because they will usually be “I’m OK”, “I am fine” and “I don’t need anything”.
- Acceptance: The hardest part of all of this was to accept that I was not OK. Sometimes the joys of motherhood can be blurred by tears. It was hard to accept that my moods can be dis-regulated. I learned that recognizing postpartum mood disorders was the most liberating thing that could ever happen to me. For the first time, I was able to feel like I was doing something right for me.
We do get the desperate urge to ask for help but almost instantly change our mind. We need to realize that “It is Ok to Not be Ok”. If you are like me and struggle asking for help, at least be honest and be willing to say “I’m not OK” when someone asks you how you are doing. Mothers need all the support they can get and sometimes we are our own obstacle.
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AUTHOR: Mayeling Angleastro, LMHC – has a Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and is an accomplished multi-cultural (speaks English, Espanol) Licensed Mental Health Counselor working with teens, young adults, depression, anxiety and women empowerment issues in Winter Park and East Orlando Florida! Mayeling Angelastro can be reached at (407) 248-0030.