Monday, 31 January 2011

How to have boundaries but not feel like a bad Mum

During the last week I have been feeling pretty awful and part of that is this awful exhaustion and lethargy and a feeling that I just can't keep up with Ella. I know, that is just motherhood. But this is an almost numbing feeiling and I get really anxious cause I feel unable to look after Ella at all. It sets off a spiral downward where I feel like a terrible mother for feeling this way. It becomes a vortex into darkness. The depression means at times I am unable to think rationally about it and give myself a break.

Part of the steps I am taking to help me recover is to work on my boundaries with other people. That is challenging for me but what is harder is learning to have boundaries as Ella's mother. I guess I used to thinking of her needs as immediate and my job is to meet them. But as she gets older she has more wants rather than needs and I am having to put some of my needs first so that I can still be a good mother to her. It is such a hard line to draw and especially difficult at a time when my judgment and perception of things not that clear.

I guess all mothers have to work out where meeting their child's needs first has to end so that they can take care of themselves and have enough energy and generosity to keep giving to their children. For me this is going to start with night weaning. At Ella's age most people I know have stopped breastfeeding altogether. I had been aiming for breastfeeding on demand until 2 years old. This does not mean I think anyone else should have to, it was just what I had been planning on. But plans have to change. One of the principles La Leche League espouses is that for breastfeeding to work well both child and mother have to be happy with how it is going. And for me I think I have reached the end of my ability to breastfeed as I was.

I need space. Both physical and emotional. I need some time to just be me. And I would love more than 4 hours sleep in  row! What is so concerning to me is how difficult it is to give myself permission to have some boundaries and to say what I need. I have created this picture in my head of what I should be prepared to do as a mother. And the reality is that my expectation are unrealistic and I have come to the end of myself. It is not good to feel resentful and anxious about anything to do with being Ella's mum. And for me to be able to celebrate her and enjoy her as she grows I have to stop being a victim of the stereotype of a mother that I am beating myself over the head with. And instead be the mother that I am. Maybe then I will show Ella how to be herself too.


  1. I love your courage. I think your final sentence is a powerful one.
    love you three x

  2. Alexia7:47 pm

    Marion, I've been enjoying reading your blog lately, and I'm sorry I hadn't realised how you've been feeling the other day when I saw you. But your posts are so honest and I'm sure you're going to grow a lot in the next while with the changes you're making to put yourself first - so hard as a mother, but so important. Hugs to you.

  3. Hi Marion,

    I emailed you, but along with that, with your promise to say "no" to too many activities, are you maybe getting a bit housebound with just you and Ella?

    Remember, that's not a natural mothering situation for her age either. She wants all-day entertainment, right?

    Also, while I applaud your recognition of the place that external distractions hold when you are depressed, one reason we do that is because being by yourself a lot can lead to negative spirals. Another place where balance is key!

    I am curious if the night-weaning is something that came up during counselling? My counsellor was very good but not as gungho as I was about meeting Alex's needs, and the suggestion to "do something different" was a recurring theme.

    Take care,