Is It Normal?
*Note: I am not using normal in the conforming sense. The term normal can be quite elusive and subjective based on our own private logic of what we perceive as normal or typical. Developing your normal, based on your TRUE ideal, is the point of this article.
There is an image of motherhood we are all subject to from a young age. It might go something like this (please insert your own conditioning here), “motherhood is a happy time when you feel instantly connected with your child(ren), you want to be with them all the time, and it’s blissful, and you can’t imagine your life any other way.” You may go further and apply rules to motherhood based on your image, such as “a good mom does XYZ and a bad mom does XYZ.”
Have you ever stopped to be curious if the ideal mother image is the one that actually represents and honors you?
You have a unique set of gifts, talents, and rawness that is unmatched by any other person on this great earth. You are a complex compilation of thoughts, feelings, and spirit. It is typical that our ideal images or archetypes do not encompass our own special material. Instead, we compare ourselves to an ideal owned by our family system and further reinforced by society. Anytime you bump up against a thought, feeling, or action as out of line with the image, you feel dissonance and doubt. The feeling of, "Oh, shit!" and then the spinning questions of, "Am I doing this right? And if I am not, will I forever screw up my child?"
You may often wonder, “Is this normal?” or “Am I normal?” based on the image you have created. Both questions can send us down a proverbial rabbit hole that leads to feelings of shame and guilt, as opposed to feeling comforted and aligned. Sometimes, reassurance from one mama to another is all it takes to shift us from spinning out of control to feeling grounded and whole.
As a mama, I ask these questions to myself ALL THE TIME! I constantly wonder if what I am thinking, feeling, or doing is within normal parameters. What I think I am really asking is “Am I different?” or “Am I right?”
We crave normalcy, so we can belong. When we perceive our experience as not being within the range of normal, we disconnect ourselves from others and retreat into secrecy. Unfortunately, secrecy only does one thing…. spins you in shame and guilt with nowhere to put that negative energy except inward. Add-on questions such as, “...and if I am different, will I still be loved?” As a mom, the thought may be “If I don’t this right, am I a bad mom?” The add on questions come from a critical and judgmental place. The inner critic does not consider uniqueness, it only considers comparison and conformity in an attempt to keep you safe.
Mamas, lets redefine normal in motherhood by releasing judgement and comparison. Open yourself to accept that normal doesn’t mean comfortable. You can experience two things at once, even when they are dichotomous. You can hold that what is right for you might not be right for another mama. You can affirm that your unique journey is the right one for you. Below is an incomplete list of affirmative statements that reflect normalcy. I FULLY encourage you to add to this list and embody your own experience so you can let go of old beliefs and images that no longer serve you.
It is normal to love being a mom and hate being a mom at the same time
It is normal to want to do your own thing….ALONE!
It is normal to feel you are the only one that can do it right
It is normal to want to change how you feed your baby (breastmilk or formula)
It is normal to be relieved and sad when your kid becomes more independent
It is normal to grieve the passing of time
It is normal to cry
It is normal to feel ALL the feelings
It is normal to want a break
It is normal to love so hard your heart bursts
It is normal to fiercely protect your children
It is normal to feel scared
It is normal to feel like you got your shit together
It is normal to not want to fall apart
It is normal to fall apart.
Is it normal to not like your partner sometimes
It is normal to literally feel your uterus expand when you see a baby
It is normal to literally feel your uterus contract when you see a baby
It is normal to fantasize about another life
It is normal to eat mac and cheese MANY times per week
It is normal to lose your patience
It is normal to want to go back to work
It is normal to want no longer to work
It is normal to let your kid watch TV sometimes
It is normal to want only one child
It is normal to want several children
It is normal to feel ambivalent
It is normal to get frustrated
It is NORMAL. It is WELL. You are WHOLE.
Mamas, YOU are the one that defines your normal, no one else does this for you. If you feel uncomfortable with something, ask yourself why? If the reason is because someone else does it different or you are following someone else’s rule or expectation, let it go. Stand tall and proud in your truth and your inner knowing of what is right for you and your family.