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I offer free 30 minute telephone/Skype consultations for people wanting to find out more about coaching on the 'baby decision'. Email me at mailto:beth@ticktockcoaching.co.uk and assistant Laura will respond and arrange an appointment with you. Visit http://www.ticktockcoaching.co.uk/ for more information about my coaching services.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

When Expectations Don't Match Reality

One of the big issues with the decision to become a mother is the big mis-match between expectations or the fantasy of having children vs the reality.  It's this mis-match that is often behind the maternal ambivalence that is so often felt by new mothers.

In this advice column Dear Dana I'm Miserable , the adviser points this out - bluntly - to the woman seeking advice. 

'Whoever told you that getting married and having kids was going to make you happy? I know – only every TV show and movie and book you ever read. It’s not your fault that you expected the mere presence of a family to make your life complete.

There’s a societal push to get us all into domestic life as soon as we hit our mid-20s. Get on the assembly line, get a job, get a car, get married, have a kid, have another kid, don’t have too many kids because that’ll weird people out, now take care of your kids and be happy like the rest of us.'

As Dana, points out, so often motherhood is sold to women as the solution.  It is meant to fulfil us right?  And when we don't feel fulfilled, when we feel stressed or, like the woman seeking advice, miserable, we also feel like we are a big FAILURE.

So, how does this help everyone out there who is trying to make the decision to have children or not? 

It helps because it takes away the pressure to have children in order to be fulfilled.  And it also helps because it's normalising the grungy and not nice bits of motherhood.   As Dana said, her mother did her a favour by saying that motherhood was not all a bed of roses. 

After we take a step back and look at motherhood with all it's flaws, we might decide not to have children and embrace being child-free and finding fulfilment in other ways.  OR, we might decide that we can embrace the ambivalence of motherhood - with it's down sides and miserable bits too.  We might see how we could create a reality that allows us to - as Dana points out - time for ourselves, time to make OURSELVES happy.   

We could also call on the knowledge that concepts of happiness and fulfilment are more complex than often portrayed in popular media images of family life.   A German sociologist Matthia Pollmann-Schult carried out a long term study from 1994 to 2010 where he said his findings showed that parenthood as 'subtantial and enduring positive effect on life satisfaction.'  So, he argues although on a day to day basis parents of children may not experience as much happiness, they could experience overall positive effect on their life satisfaction.

For me, it's important to stop comparing myself and my life with an ideal of image of who I should be or how I should be.    Where are you comparing yourself to expectations of others (or expectations of your saboteur)?

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