Game, set, match! How Serena Williams deals with ‘mummy guilt’

Mother and baby playing on the floor

“It’s totally normal to feel like I’m not doing enough for my baby … I’m not around as much as I’d like to be.”

“Mama of 2018”

That’s a quote from Serena Williams’ Instagram page from August and the reason she gets my vote for “mama of 2018”.

Why? She’s feisty, strong, determined, at the top of her career game (at 37) and yet, she’s just as vulnerable and human as the rest of us when it comes to being a mum – only she’s brave enough to say so.

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Last week was not easy for me. Not only was I accepting some tough personal stuff, but I just was in a funk. Mostly, I felt like I was not a good mom. I read several articles that said postpartum emotions can last up to 3 years if not dealt with. I like communication best. Talking things through with my mom, my sisters, my friends let me know that my feelings are totally normal. It’s totally normal to feel like I’m not doing enough for my baby. We have all been there. I work a lot, I train, and I’m trying to be the best athlete I can be. However, that means although I have been with her every day of her life, I’m not around as much as I would like to be. Most of you moms deal with the same thing. Whether stay-at-home or working, finding that balance with kids is a true art. You are the true heroes. I’m here to say: if you are having a rough day or week–it’s ok–I am, too!!! There’s always tomm!

A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on

Serena’s post hits a nerve and not just because it was shared about 500,000 times on Instagram.

Her honesty is searing.  

Because what she seems to be saying is: “Help, my daughter is one and a half, but I haven’t really figured out how to do all the things I have to do in my life while being a mum at the same time.”

Motherhood is a journey, not a destination

Sound familiar? It does to me. I’m only six years into this parenting game and this juggle between who I am as me, and who I am as a mum, continues to bewilder me.

What I didn’t realise either is that motherhood is not something that you just “get”. Sure, it starts when you become pregnant, but just because you’ve given birth and someone has handed you a baby, doesn’t mean you need to have everything worked out.

Embracing our matrescence

You’re not meant to have it all worked out. Motherhood is a journey of a lifetime – and a bumpy one at that! It’s also filled with more potholes and crises of confidence than anyone really gives it credit for.

Kinderling’s meditation guru Amy Taylor-Kabbaz has a name for this journey – matrescence.

“Matrescence is the natural transition for women to motherhood. It’s not easy, or the same for anyone (just like the experience of adolescence). Motherhood changes every single part of us; your brain, your body, your hormones, what you want to be, who you think you are, your relationships, what you like and what you don’t like it,” says Amy.

So what do we do about these feelings?

Further down her Instagram post, Serena says she relies on talking with her mum, sisters and girlfriends, which helps to normalise her feelings, including guilt.

Amy agrees:

“How you deal with matrescence really depends on how much support you get, the people around you and how much you are held throughout the process.”

It’s also really important to step back and value all the things that you do every day to keep your family and the ship of life afloat.

Amy’s a big fan of journaling and meditation for this – and she regularly starts her day (sometimes at 5am) with some me-time on the couch in her living room.

Other people might find it easier to do this at night, or even when the baby goes down for a nap during the day.

As Serena says:

“Whether stay-at-home mum or working, finding that balance with kids is a true art. You are true heroes. I am here to say: if you are having a rough day or week – its ok – I am, too!! There’s always tomorrow!”

Amen.

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