Do you feel general anxiety that ranges from uneasiness to overwhelming panic? Many moms experience a kind of all-day-long nervousness. Some have periodic panic attacks and irrational fears and worries that preoccupy them. Others feel bodily or somatic symptoms such as chest pain, butterflies in the stomach, rapid breathing, and migraines. Why does anxiety take so many forms? It’s because moms are unique, but sometimes the concept of being a good enough mother helps anxious mothers, and their children.
One Major Maternal Fear: Being a Failure as a Mother
Moms seem to have one overriding fear: that they will fail as a parent. Moms fear they aren’t good mothers and their anxiety rises when they are afraid their child will absorb their tension. Anxious mothers don’t want their kids to be anxious like themselves. Unfortunately, this often increases their anxiety and results in just what they fear. Children notice furrowed brows filled with worry. They sensitively ask, “Mommy, what’s wrong? Can I help?” Sound familiar?
When moms have an anxious child by nature, or a child with an obsessive-compulsive disorder, they are quick to blame themselves. If they have a child with other special needs, it’s common for mothers to fear their anxiety will only make matters more difficult.
Anxious Mothers Need to Learn About Being Good Enough
“The Good Enough Mother” is a concept conceived by Dr. Winnicott, a pediatrician and psychoanalyst in 1953. Sixty-one years ago and still as relevant as ever! This phrase began in relation to mothering infants. The concept of being a “good enough mother” is that when the mother offers to meet the baby’s needs by giving her breast, the baby creates or takes what he or she needs. Mothers who learn that their babies take initiative begin to understand they don’t have to do all the work. Mothering is based on interactions between mothers and children. Mothering is based on the relationship they create with their child. The children, even infants, do some of the work in tandem with their mom.
It reduces mother anxiety tremendously when mothers realize that all they have to do is to offer to their babies what they think the baby needs. Then it’s up to the baby—yes, we can trust in the baby—to take what is offered and make it into what is needed.