How can expat mothers deal with overcoming motherhood insecurities
For mothers, and more so expat mums, insecurities sprout from everywhere. And since we lack the social support network of non-expat mums, overcoming motherhood struggles and insecurities can be a tough one.
We’ve all been there. We have all felt the feeling of dread when we step into the unknown. The unknown could be the birth of your first (or second, or third) born, the move to a new country, the start of a new job, the passing of someone important, or the tiniest of things.
I too have had my fair share of them! If only I had thought of Dr. Einstein when the first ones hit. Relativity! It is so simple really. But I believe we must go through it to actually believe the good old “it’s all relative”.
The beginning of my freak-out-blows
It was mid-August 2011. A heat wave had been punishing us for the past few days. I was at home, alone, far from my parents and homeland (where is homeland?). I was trying to breastfeed a fussy baby who, despite being hungry, didn’t seem to want to cooperate with me into latching on and having a meal.
I have to admit it, I have always had a tendency to brood on the negative aspects of whatever life throws at me. I should also say that it got much worse when I had my first son and it took me a long while to change my mindset on that.
The second blow of the “freak-out-hammer” came shortly after when Dad went back to work. He left each day, he socialised with actual grown-ups, and I stayed home, alone, with a wailing baby who wouldn’t latch on. What was I going to do all alone with the baby? I was locked home, too afraid to leave the house and find myself outside when it was the next time to fight feed the baby. My days were basically a string of tiredness, clogged ducts, anxiety and endless (and lifesaving) Skype calls with my mother.
My own struggle path
As you can imagine, the patterned repeated itself at every twist and turn our life took:
- When I started to work: How will the baby survive without his mother 24/7?
- When I got pregnant again with my daughter: how will I be able to care for TWO little people? How will I be able to keep up my son’s routine with a new wailing baby in the house?
- When my daughter was born: how would I keep taking my son to the nursery with the baby? How will I fit her napping schedule around it?
- When my son had to have a tonsillectomy: This is the end of the world.
- When we decided to move to the UK: How will it be for the kids? Will integrating be difficult? What about a new (fourth) language?
- When my husband accepted a job that required him to travel 50% of the time: Say WHAT?
You get the picture. There have been numerous moments in my life as an expat mother when I felt like I had hit rock bottom (thank you, feelings of guilt!). It wasn’t until recently that Dr. Einstein came to my mind and I realised that not only had I survived to each and every one of my “freak-out-hammer-blows”, I had actually rocked them. I had learnt things about myself and my family at each step. I felt that the previous blows had actually not been THAT bad. That it was RELATIVE.
So, when I actually realised that I could indeed work and take care of my children quite serenely during a 1 or 2-week absence from Dad, it finally hit me full force. I was rocking it. I was a badass mum, living in a foreign foreign country (yes, that’s foreign twice), without Dad, and doing fine. I realised that in fact, my “freak-out-hammer-blows” were not a path to touching rock bottom, but they were actually an ascending path towards becoming an extremely resilient and resourceful mother.
The new you
It’s that simple. Every insecurity you face in life could either first bring you to your knees before you pick yourself up (like it did to me a few years ago), or you could go through them with your resilience and strength, getting to the other side and realising that you actually did quite well. And when you change your mindset that way, a whole new landscape will open up to you. You will truly believe that overcoming motherhood insecurities is a thing of the past. That you will be able to handle what’s coming. You will simply call it life, and you will face it serenely, knowing that, like countless times before, you will get to the other side higher, stronger, a better mum, a better woman.