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The duality of motherhood and the power of ‘and’

Jun 30, 2022

The word duality is powerful, the definition being that it is the state of combining two differing things.


In motherhood (especially in more recent times) this couldn’t be truer. We can so often be absolutely done… tired (literally) of the sleepless nights ‘and’ completely obsessed with the soft way your child holds your face; touched out ‘and’ craving more time with them in that exact moment; exacerbated by the nightly ritual that is the battle of meal times ‘and’ planning what fun things you can add in their lunchbox to spark a smile the following day.

This is where the duality lies and this is where the power of ‘and’ comes into play.

I have certainly found in my 21 months of mothering that the word ‘and’ crept in even in those early days… the duality of absolutely adoring my tiny little Dottie girl ‘and’ being absolutely terrified of how I was going to survive parenting a child with severe colic and silent reflux. The beauty of not wanting her to grow up too fast ‘and’ desperately needing her to pass through these apparent rites of passage parents face. Even now, nearly two years on…a mother to a small little love who is completely obsessed with me, I find myself craving alone time (and being occasionally jealous of my partner who works full time) yet unable to last much past 4.30pm on a daycare day before pushing the doors open to go and retrieve my best friend.


That tug of the cord getting tighter every passing minute (God forbid I get stuck in traffic or a neighbour stops to chat).


The duality of knowing she has people who would love to babysit her; to allow her dad and I a much-needed date night, but being absolutely petrified that she will miss me too much to even entertain that idea (or perhaps more worried she wouldn’t miss me at all thus rendering me redundant in my role).


This duality, the combining of two things… can be harder for women in homes where they are required or choose to return to work in the few weeks after that delicious baby enters this world. The feeling of having a million tasks to complete before you have even had breakfast (if you can even manage to grab that cold slice of toast before the “work” day begins), can leave you feeling literally pulled, ground down and beaten before 8am.


The desperate need for everything to go to plan, a shower before the baby wakes, bags packed the night before, hair dried at 10pm because the morning madness doesn’t allow and if something doesn’t align with the schedule… well look out because all hell could break loose!


However, you adore working and feeling like you are a part of something bigger, you love the commute on the train so you can catch up on the latest podcasts and news stories and you completely love that it allows you the freedom to get that special little love in your life something naff that will have them beaming! The duality of being spent before you even sit down at that desk but buzzing to be taking on a task that doesn’t involve teething powder and nappies.


I have spoken to many parents, ok, mainly mamas… who do the unpaid work of mothering (hmmm, paid in sweet kisses and hand painted mugs??) and they honestly feel that between mothering children, working, being a partner (and a child to working parents themselves) they literally feel as if they are not doing any of these things to the best of their abilities and god forbid if you want to add in the role of friend, or exercise junkie too because to be honest, something else will have to take a seat on the back burner. So how do we know this and STILL encourage our friends that being a parent is the best gig ever (I truly adore it). How do we pat our friends’ growing tummies and assure them that when the baby comes everything just falls into place?


Because I’m not sure it does… I truly believe that we need that so called village everyone has spoken about *disclaimer*, I talk about it almost daily; to enable some semblance of normal.

So, we aren’t juggling a 13kg toddler on one hip whilst trying to prepare two meals (one for the adults and one for the child who will only eat 3 ingredients) whilst making two phone calls and also bracing for the energy of disappointment when your partner walks through the door and you forgot to do that task they asked you to do (again).

Modern parenting, increasing costs of living and the incredibly strong need to feel as though we are doing it all “right” has seen mothers falling down, collapsing under the weight of enrolment forms for yet another activity to fill their busy days because you need to have that perfect amount of play and socialisation. 

So, how do we change this narrative… how can we sit in the power of knowing two things can exist together happily ‘and’ also be kind to ourselves when they don’t?
I’m going to be honest with you… I am not sure… not sure at all.


I would love to know the recipe, or how to crack the code to enjoying the duality of motherhood because for now at least I see you mama. I am you. Sitting at the laptop with a cold drink trying to stay awake whilst listening to the monitor straining to decipher if that cough is going to wake the beast (or babe).


I hear you ordering your coffee with a side of biscuit so you can maybe reach a few thousand steps before 10am… please know that you aren’t alone. Please know that you don’t need to preface your sentence with “I love them but,” because I know you would give every breath you take to that sweet little child… ‘and’ you can also need a break sometimes too.


Claudia became certified as a Postpartum Doula in 2022 through the Julia Jones Newborn Mothers Collective and features on the Australian Birth Stories podcast directory , is featured on the MAMA Midwives postpartum directory and is also a member of the Doula Network Australia. She is the Founder of Matrescence by Design.


To check out Claudia's services click here. 


To grab a copy of her brand new postpartum planner click here.

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