Motherhood and the fear of failure

I have always  seen maternity as the event that can forever change a woman’s perspective about herself and about the world. It is supposed to put a woman in touch her primal instincts, her femininity, and inner strength. I like to believe that maternity empowers women, by showing them that they can carry and grow life in their own bodies. But as powerful as this experience can be, it is also emotionally and physically challenging. From the moment a woman conceives a whole new universe opens up in front of her eyes, showing her the opportunities and concerns of motherhood. And the opportunities are infinite, but the concerns may be overwhelming, and a common concern I’ve heard and witness from some of the mothers I know, is the feeling of failure.

All the new challenges that maternity brings may awaken a woman’s deepest vulnerabilities and fears. Every single frustrating event throughout a kid’s life can trigger those fears in a mother; having a baby who suddenly stops latching breast milk, or a toddler that throws an unexpected tantrum and refuses to eat dinner,  or a teenager who blames his parents for suffering from anxiety to be successful in school. These situations may just look like ordinary events in the motherhood world, but they can certainly make a woman doubt herself, carry shame and guilt, even develop anxiety or depression.

Conscious women that envision a more satisfactory motherhood experience, may recognize that fear of failure often feeds from their desire of perfectionism, or their own unrealistic expectations in regards to motherhood. Even social pressure around them, and the tendency to compare themselves with other mothers, may result in self-doubt and frustration. The fear of failing as mothers, or making mistakes that affect their children’s lives, is an inherent aspect of maternity. We are told to “fight” those feelings, but in reality we need to embrace them and recognize that they are part of our humanity. The best way to raise above the fear of failure is to realize that most of the times it is just in our mind, it is just a possibility, as realistic as the possibility of success!

Although maternity may seem an organic situation, where it is difficult to rationalize or “plan” our reactions, we still have the capacity to realize that when a baby is born, a mother is born as well. And this mother deserves self-compassion, and self-care, help and love. Journal, meditate, and find supportive community. Consider what is true and important to yourself and the way you want to rise your child, but remain flexible, because life is unpredictable, and motherhood is a journey full of unexpected detours. See yourself as the brave warrior you are, the creator of life and tree that stands high holding many generations to come.