The Unspoken Code of Motherhood
I’m starting to wonder if there is such a code. There are a lot of challenges when you become a mom, yet sometimes it seems like you might be the only one who is going through them! It seems to be that no one is really open about what is really going on in their lives, no matter how close you think you might be. We’ve been attending many different mommy and baby programs over the past month and during each group, there is usually a time for you to share how things are going. And everyone seems to say things are going well – if they do admit that things are tough or they are sleep deprived, it’s usually with a laugh or as a joke, as though it’s no big deal.
Some of the biggest challenges faced when first becoming a mom include:
- Breastfeeding – check out my other posts about this particular challenge.
- Sleep deprivation
- Financial stress
- Colicky or crying baby
- Lack of support, from partner or family (possibly due to distance)
- Loss of income and ability to earn income
- Body image and weight loss
Sleep deprivation ranks highest on my list. I found that I could handle it for the first few months, but as it stretches on to past four months, it is definitely a huge challenge to overcome. Sure, you’re supposed to nap when baby naps – but when are you supposed to eat, shower, clean or do anything else for yourself if you’re napping? True, some babies do sleep through the night at an earlier age, but I think for the most part, infants do not sleep through the night, which makes mom’s day a lot harder.
Financial stress can also be a huge factor for a new mom. If she was working before, the loss of income can seriously affect a family. We are blessed to have Employment Insurance that covers a 1 year maternity leave (or paternity leave), but “The basic benefit rate is 55% of your average insured earnings up to a yearly maximum insurable amount of $44,200. This means you can receive a maximum payment of $468 per week.” For many women, especially those who are more established in their careers, this is a massive pay cut. Yet monthly expenses haven’t changed (mortgage, car payments, loans, food etc) and in fact, have increased because of baby. So the financial stress can be enormous and may be one of the reasons why some women choose to go back to work earlier. Of course, for those who are self-employed (like me) the challenge can be even greater. A friend who is a physician had to save enough to cover expenses for 3 months, so that she could take the time off when her son was born.
I am certain that more women are going through these challenges – and are keeping it to themselves. I hope to open up a discussion and a forum to allow women to express themselves and their challenges and know that they are not alone. I’ll touch on the other challenges in my next post.