The limitations of motherhood

Whilst sipping on our drinks purchased after yesterday’s school band concert at another school, the Tween and I were discussing different things.
I remember saying to her “Some days it is the hardest thing in the world to be a mother”. She replied “Well why did you do it”?
I believe my answer was “Because I wanted you all”. (I then went on and said some other things but for the purposes of this story, that one line is the most important).
I guess I didn’t realise when I pictured myself holding a tiny baby in my arms and showering it with kisses that babies grow up and that growing up brings a whole new set of issues to deal with. To be honest, I don’t believe any mother thinks much beyond the baby and early childhood years when thinking about having a baby and there certainly aren’t too many books aimed at parents that urge them to think about this either.
I believe I blogged once before about the difficulties of parenting adults due to the fact that your baby is no longer a baby. However the parenting just doesn’t stop.
It morphs in some weird way in which whilst you are still a parent, you are also a fellow adult (with a lot more life experience).
The difficulty I am finding with motherhood right now is the limitations I have.

I think all mothers need to realise that in our Motherhood Tool Kit there is no magic wand that can zap difficulties away. There is no degree in medicine. And there certainly isn’t a large pair of scissors to cut the emotional ties to those beings you sent off into the world with nothing but the teachings you could give them during their time in your care.
I was discussing motherhood with the First Born the other day and I said to her “We do the best we can with the knowledge that we have. Yes, we make mistakes but sometimes we don’t realise the extent of those mistakes until our children are adults and tell us.”
What I didn’t say (and I should have) is that mothers feel guilt. When something is brought to light after many years, the questions begin. “Why didn’t I see it”? or “What could I have done differently”?
I guess that is a mother thing to do right?
Blame yourself for not fixing things correctly the first time? Or for not fixing an issue at all because you didn’t know it existed?
Unfortunately our super hero capes and x-ray vision glasses overlooked these things.

I think it is inherent in mothers to want to fix everything. When a child is young, this is so much simpler. The issues are simpler. They require a band-aid, a kiss or some parental intervention and then all is well in the world once again.
You can wipe away the tears and hold them and know that pretty soon they will find something to play with and all will be right in the world once again.
What happens though when your child is all grown up and is able to fix things themselves but doesn’t know how to do it? At what point, does a mother need to step back and say “Hey, I can advise you. I can help you but I can’t do the fixing. That’s your responsibility”.  And whilst they are saying that, their heart is breaking into a million tiny pieces.
How many tears are shed whilst a mother watches their child make selfish decisions that affect not only themselves but those around them but she. can’t. fix. the. problem?

When a child suffers, a loving mother suffers also.
When a child is making mistakes and the mother (with her wisdom of having living longer) can see where those mistakes will lead, what does she do? She can only say “Hey, think about things”. She can’t step in and tell their child to stop doing this because that would take away their free will.
It takes away their opportunity to learn and grow.
It takes away their life experience that they need in order to parent their own children one day.
Sometimes support is difficult to give and wisdom seems the better option.

Sometimes being a mother is difficult with all the limitations there are.



24 thoughts on “The limitations of motherhood

  1. Totally agree! And yes you’re right I bet a lot of us don’t think about dealing with “older children issues” as focused we are on having babies and raising babies. Wisdom is a wonderful option, as they will carry on with our words. We all have that “my mother used to say” moment, don’t we?


    1. So if you find that magic wand Rusha, please be sure to share okay?
      And I totally understand your frustration. Don’t these kids realise that we’ve made those same mistakes and we are just trying to save them some grief? lol


  2. Everything you say, Sue, is spot on. It’s so much easier to fix problems when they’re little. When the feeling of guilt resurfaces, we should remind ourselves that we did our best with the knowledge we had and this reasoning should alleviate our feeling of guilt.


    1. I was quite happy with the bee. Unfortunately the exposure on the tulip isn’t great because I snapped the photo really quickly as the bee came in for a landing. But thanks. 🙂


  3. Oh, you are so right. And this post is well-timed for me. How I wish I could fix. But I cannot. I must wait. Stand by. Be available. Be strong. Be loving. Be patient. How much easier it would be if I could fix.


  4. A great writing Sue, I actually converted, in my mind, your words Mother to read Father.
    Your words hit the nail on the head as regards to babys morphing into adults, our role then tends to change.
    I think I am more of a mate with my son now, and there are certainly things from the past I didnt see coming, or prevent.


    1. Oh most definitely. There are things from the past that I had forgotten and then suddenly they appear before me today. 😦 However I agree that parenting changes for both mothers and fathers when the children reach adulthood.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. So true. My daughter is 21, my first child and although i was fortunate enough that she chose to stay at home and commute to university she left to start her grad position with very little forewarning. I thought we’d have the summer together but no, she was here one minute, gone the next. It was traumatic for me but in a way very reassuring to hear her coping with her new life full of responsibilities – bills to pay, food to shop for, cooking to do, no mum to double up on those missed alarm days… in fact that was the hardest thing for me, knowing that I was there as her safety next as she’d grown up this far. She’d had jobs and her studies to get through, she’d started to pay her own phone bill and have her own contracts and financial obligations but I was there for her to bounce thoughts off, i was there to guide and advise and at times to be like her PA and take charge when she was really up against it with work and finals.

    I started by calling her in the mornings to say hi, when really I was calling to make sure she’d not slept through an alarm and I think a couple of times I saved her skin although she would not admit that as she wanted to prove she could be independent, to me, to herself and to the world I think. I decided it was crazy that I was setting my alarm to be her alarm and I couldn’t carry on doing it forever and so I told her on a visit to her new home that I was backing off completely. I was not going to accidentally phone her at 6am anymore, I wasn’t going to send frantic texts when I’d not had a good night text by 11pm, I was not going to do her grocery shopping online for a home delivery ‘surprise’ when I knew she was going to be home. I knew I was being ridiculous and I wondered if she thought so too but was afraid to say. So I asked her and she said “I kind of like it mum, that you still want to do things for me, but yes, I think you’re a little crazy and sometimes I like to do my own food shopping, I won’t starve and I will eat properly I promise and I did over sleep a couple of times but I’ve learned from that and I don’t anymore so yeah the calls in the morning can stop and you can enjoy the lie in that you deserve”. We laughed about it and I backed off and I’m very good at it now. When she has a problem I listen to it and ask her what she is going to do about it rather than tell her what to do about it.

    I’m proud of her, she makes some good decisions and its kind of cute that now she has turned the tables and she sends me little shopping treats, she calls me to make sure I’m home from work, she gives me advice on my business, she pays her brother an allowance, she has pep talks with him and she encourages him to take care of me. Doing what we do isn’t in vain it’s teaching them how to care and love and when they start doing it back it is so lovely to be in receipt of some of that good stuff you’ve been dishing out for years.

    I do differ in some ways though, for instance when she was born, I lie there looking at her after all the people had gone and the fuss had died down, in the early hours of the morning and her life flashed before my eyes and I saw her as a grown woman and I kind of took on the ‘project daughter raising’ wholeheartedly, I even had a kind of plan and it didn’t do any harm. I have wobbles now and then, but she’s amazing and I didn’t have a guidebook or a manual but crikey I could write one now.

    Your posts always inspire me to write posts of my own in response… thank you x


    1. Thank you for sharing your experiences with your daughter. It is so difficult to let them go when they are adults and allow them to make mistakes. My son and daughter in law are moving back to town (they currently live 1000 miles away) in a few days and I am looking forward to having them close once again but I need to remember to step back and let them go.

      Liked by 1 person

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