The tension in motherhood

Tension by Brent Salyers

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To me, the line between personal contentment in the present and pursuing personal growth is a fine one.

It took becoming a mother to realise the strength of the tension between these motivations. The “having it all” syndrome, the constant talk about trying to find the illusive balance, and the strong emotions in the debate about returning to work or being a stay-at-home-mum, have been core to this realisation.

I feel I need both motivators and thus have to live in this constant tension.


Because, I see career pursuits, hobbies, personal growth, as being about me; the need for mental stimulation, adult social interaction, self-care. Being a mother is about my personal development too, but it is forever coupled with the responsibility for little lives. By it’s very nature, motherhood/parenthood adds a dimension of needing to regularly prioritise others’ needs first over my own.

I’m not complaining about this responsibility. I relish being a mother. It’s added to my personal growth and still is, in ways my career hasn’t, can’t and won’t. I would not turn back the clock on this stage of my life at all.

But I live in the constant tension of learning to be content with the present, whilst my little ones are very young, yet wanting and waiting for more in the future. The time will come for me to wildly pursue my personal goals. This is just how I’ve come to understand and accept what I feel for now rather than fighting it. I don’t think I’m alone.


As a mother, do you live with this tension? How do you respond to the debates about working mother vs SAHM, finding balance, etc.?


Related Posts

I’m not here today

Reflections On Being an Older Mother


Linking with With Some Grace for FlogYoBlogFriday (FYBF).


13 thoughts on “The tension in motherhood

  1. No no, you aren’t alone. I feel that tension constantly too. I’m stuck in a job that’s not really my ideal job-scope, but with a good working environment.I love Lil Pumpkin and I do want to be with her as much as I can, but I also dream about how I want to excel at my career, how I want to actually love the work that I do. I cope mostly by just remembering that my priority now is as a mother, and I must remember to count my blessings. I’m still doing things that I love outside of work so that’s a real blessing.

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

  2. I completely understand this tension. This is one of the reasons I blog really – to keep writing – tiny little steps towards my goals and aspirations. What I maintain and defend is every woman’s right to choose whether they want to stay at home, work part time or full time. I feel bad for those who are not where they want to be due to circumstance. I also find people make assumptions about the kind of person you are based on whether you work or not, which can get to me on some days when I’m feeling “invisible” to society. Some people also assume we must be well off if I can “afford” not to work – this is so not the case. This is just where we are at the moment, and it’s working for our family, so other peoples assumptions are of no consequence really. 🙂 There are definitely some days when I think some more income would be handy, or that I just wish I had something to plan for beyond dinner, but I know this is temporary, both the good and the bad aspects of it, so I push through the bad days and focus on the good. Wow. I think this may be the longest comment I have ever made. Thanks for such a thought provoking post!

  3. Oh, I so hear you!
    My boys mean the absolute world to me, and I wouldn’t give up a minute of the last 7+ years, but part of me can’t help thinking about what I could do with myself if only I had more time. What I could study, or what other volunteering I could do, or even what work I could do.
    I try hard to live in the moment, but sometimes it’s hard not to feel a bit unsatisfied!

    Visiting from FYBF 🙂

  4. Definitely not alone!! I often feel guilty starting study while my kids are still young, I just hope they remember this time positively – that I am setting a good example, not taking time away from them. x

  5. I’m one with you on this. And while I’m eagerly waiting for what the future holds, I still struggle to figure out what I actually want to do beyond motherhood. I’m hoping for some enlightenment and yet I know it takes my own actions and pursuing goals to get there.

  6. Oh Veronica! How I’ve missed reading your gorgeous thoughtful posts (I’m catching up!). I totally relate to this. That tension is so difficult to live with. I think it’s why I feel so stressed most days. Not sure how to reconcile it. I am striving to accept it more – as you are doing. Fighting it seems to be my reflex response. I loved how you articulated this so well.

  7. Love this post! I still struggle with it – (even though my youngest is now 3). I’m still wanting and waiting for things for the future – but I think I think that’s because my husband is away a fair bit for work. Because I’m the one left holding the fort (so to speak), I feel like my pursuits are on hold (to some extent) in order for me to be fully present with my children. Finding that balance is hard.

  8. oh absolutely not alone! Something so many of us grapple with. Having 3 older kids, one about to start high school, i know how quickly it all goes which is why I really want to continue to enjoy the 2 I have at home whilst at the same time dealing with the long list of personal and professional goals I want to fill. xx

  9. It can be very challenging – I understand. Like I am trying to develop my writing career yet I feel like I ignore my daughter too much when I’m working. However I know that if I were working outside of the home I’d see my daughter even less so I should be grateful for the “additional” time I have with her. It just seems like it’s never enough!

  10. I have been meaning to come back to this post to comment for AGES!
    YES, yes, yes. You are not alone Veronica. I have been doing a lot of reflecting on this lately and trying to find a balance between the two. I am so fortunate that I don’t have to work, but I am not happy being at home full-time either.
    Your words illustrate this tension perfectly. xx

  11. Pingback: Searching for breathing space « Mixed Gems

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