Self-Compassion in Motherhood

Photography:Opal Imagery

By Belinda Haan

Writing these words fill me with the memories of just how bloody hard I was on myself in early motherhood. 

There wasn’t anything wrong with me at all. 

I was navigating the transition into motherhood with no knowledge of how to do this. 

No-one told me that learning how to be a mother was a journey that never ends. 

No-one told me that there is no such thing as a perfect mother and that the pursuit of perfection would cause me endless suffering. 

Everything I felt was normal. I was normal. 

What I know now is that if you’re beating yourself up, it’s because you care. You want to be and feel better. You want to enjoy your baby more. You want to be more present. You want to make the most of this time. 

And I’ll let you in on a secret. 

Beating yourself up is the opposite of what you need in motherhood. 

No-one told me that there is no such thing as a perfect mother and that the pursuit of perfection would cause me endless suffering. 

Try being your ‘ideal self’ as a mother when your mind is constantly scanning for all the things you are doing wrong or all the ways you are flawed. It is not the formula for being present, open-hearted and calm. 

What is the formula? 

Building the skill and habit of self-compassion 

As mothers, it is impossible to always show up as we would ideally like to. We are often under stress and deeply exhausted. We regularly have to compromise and make impossible choices. 

We can respond to this by feeding the habit of self-flagellation. 

What if instead, we channelled some of the patience,  understanding and kindness we give to others towards ourselves? 

This is a difficult practice. Trust me, I know that for sure. But the rewards are beyond your wildest dreams. And not just for you, but also for your family. 

There is no ‘end-point’ to when you are always loving to yourself. It is a life-long journey that requires patience and commitment. 

We can start by noticing when we are ‘watering the weeds’ in our mind. And instead, turn our attention to ‘watering the flowers’.


Belinda Haan is a writer, advocate, and facilitator focused on re-writing the motherhood experience. She uniquely blends the best of psychology and heart to support women in their transition into motherhood. She is the founder of The Motherhood Gathering, which provides a loving container for women as they navigate the joy and full catastrophe of early motherhood. You can follow Belinda on FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.  

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