Doing your “hamwork,” part 2

August 22, 2012 at 5:04 am

This is the concluding installment of a guest post series from the wonderful women at The Healing Group. Here’s part one if you missed it (with bios about the authors)…

Doing Your “Hamwork” – Part II
By Kristin B. Hodson, CSW, LCSW and Alisha Worthington, BSW, SSW

In our “perfect is as perfect does” culture, it’s hard for Moms to admit to themselves or others that perhaps motherhood isn’t the blissful, organized, make-up-and-hair-done-after-working-out-at-the-gym world we thought it would be. We want so much to appear like we have everything under control and are now fully content and satisfied with life because we have a baby. And, unfortunately, some of us just about drive ourselves into the ground desperately clinging to the cultural idea that we have to put on our big girl panties and keep trudging forward no matter the difficulty or the cost.

What we are coming to understand is that that idea can be harmful to ourselves and those around us. There are times when we simply don’t have the emotional and/or mental ability to “go the extra mile.” We’re barely making down the hall to the bathroom.

“Postpartum mood disorder” isn’t a popular phrase. It doesn’t ring well. It sounds like “I’m a bad Mom” all wrapped up in three little words, but that’s a negative stigma that has been attached must be unattached—just like no longer lopping off the ham when you have a pan that fits it just fine. Due to the negative connotation, there are too many women silently suffering, needlessly, through a treatable and all-too-common condition. Just talk to the women around you about what they experienced after their babies were born and you will begin to hear stories. Maybe not all of them will have one, but the statistics show one out of eight will. That’s a lot. Maybe you’re one of them and aren’t sure what to do.

One of the easiest things to start with is your “hamwork.” Look at your “shoulds.” Are you trying to do it all because you are supposed to? Are you running the house, the finances, carpool, making dinner, emotionally attending to your spouse with your needs being at the very bottom of a very tall totem pole because that’s what “good Moms” do and should do?

Let go of the idea of the “should” and change them to “I choose to.” I choose to do the dishes or let them pile up. I choose to hold my baby and rest and let the weeds have their chance to grow instead, and so on. This simple change of thinking empowers you and allows you to take ownership over your choices.

By letting go of the “perfect mom, perfect wife, back-to-church-in-two-weeks-after-that-baby-is-born” ideal, and letting go of that image for the women around you as well, you can do wonders in discovering your own authentic Mothering voice—giving you space to seek support—be it informal or professional and STILL be a great mom. Moreover, how about alleviating gobs of mothering guilt? In other words, by questioning the passed-along-shoulds, allowing someone else to shoulder your burdens while you rest, and recognizing we are all in this together, you can keep ALL of your ham and eat it too!