Jo Fiddy is a Mindset Coach and Energy Practitioner originally from the UK and now living in Munich with her toddler and Bavarian partner. We wholeheartedly thank her for this beautiful article where she talks about what it means to be an expat pandemic mother.
Being an expat new mother brings a set of unique challenges. Those first few <months tentatively stepping out with the buggy, trying your best to speak to the pharmacist on little sleep and a little understanding of the local lingo. Family might fly in to help and offer support and love during an exciting and emotional time. There is the motherhood cafe meet ups, where like-minded mothers all get together sharing stories and proudly passing around their babies, while the other mother eats, has a hot beverage or a blissful loo break alone.
Then there is being an Expat New Mum in a Pandemic. No cafe meet ups, no one to hold the baby, so the mother can have a much needed break. Living in fear and uncertainty, of an invisible virus that grounded the entire world. Not knowing when loving family members can travel and meet their new grandchild. Not to mention being with a baby 24/7 in isolation and for some, the trauma of giving birth in a Pandemic without their partner.
It is especially challenging to navigate, when we the mother, have been conditioned for generations by society, into believing the importance of keeping others happy above our own needs and appearing perfect. The intense pressure to have ‘good vibes’ only and to be in a constant unrealistic state of happiness at all times – thank you social media.
To feel that there is something wrong because you have this beautiful healthy baby, yet you feel anxious, overwhelmed, frustrated, lonely, scared and yes bored, and therefore must be a bad ungrateful mother.
So I say this, if you are an Expat Pandemic Mother experiencing the heavy weight of big emotions, please know from my heart to yours, that it is ok to be feeling your feelings. Having big difficult emotions, takes nothing away from what an amazing and wonderful mother you are. You are raising a child in extreme conditions. It is normal to feel difficult and uncomfortable emotions, especially within a raging pandemic.
As humans we were not supposed to raise babies alone in isolation and without a loving tribe by our side. It is ok to feel frustrated, sadness, anger at the situation, just as it is ok to feel happy, fulfilled and joyful.
My daughter is coming up to her second birthday and while I feel happy and proud at the beautiful soul she is, part of me feels frustration and sadness that it will be her second birthday in lockdown and no Grandma – again. All emotions are valid.
For an exhausted Expat Pandemic Mother, with little help and little socialisation, those persistent negative thoughts and emotions, when not processed correctly, can play havoc with mental health. Such is the power of unprocessed emotions, that they start to become the blueprint of our reality.
If we can acknowledge how we feel and learn to express and not suppress down our feelings, those difficult emotions are released into the air like a balloon. It is an emotional reset. Difficult emotions will return, just like happiness, however if we sit with them, name them, without mum guilt and then release them, the waves of intensity lessen and so does its control.
Many clients see leaps in their transformation, when they allow their emotions to flow in and out of their lives.
Because, what we resist persists, our brain is desperately trying to say “hey I’m not ok please listen to me”. These emotions will continue to pop up until we invite them in. So let’s look at techniques on how you can process and release them.
Start by feeling your feelings and accept how you feel with no judgement
It seems a bit odd at first, as we were not taught how to process our emotions at school.
It is such a helpful tool, the brain loves to solve puzzles and process information. Each day ask yourself – how am I feeling today. What happened today to make me feel this way? What are my emotions trying to tell me, what is the message? What do I need? Being able to process our emotions, is the gift that keeps on giving, as our children learn by modelling what we do.
Our bodies are highly intelligent, creating humans and breathing to name a few. Therefore trust that it knows what to do and if you feel like crying, have a good cry.
Speak to a trusted friend
Tell them how you feel. Being seen and heard without judgement, is enough some days to enable you to reset and move forwards.
Once you have acknowledged and accepted how you feel, start moving to release the cortisol in the body. Gentle movement such as yoga, walking in nature, Emotional Freedom Techniques or dancing in your kitchen.
The more we express how we feel and normalise the conversation, the closer we become to begin the healing process of what has been a life changing year.
Main pic: Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash
In collaboration with Pippagina, Jo launches The Motherhood Circle for English Speaking Mothers in Munich on 5th May 2021. A brand new four-week program designed specifically to nourish the mental health of Pandemic Mothers. This is a sharing circle x group coaching, a sacred space for Expat Mums in Munich, to share their motherhood journey with like-minded mothers as well as receive the benefits of group coaching.
To book The Motherhood Circle – www.pippagina.com
Info on working with Jo Fiddy – www.jofiddy.com