top of page

Guilt & Maternal Ambivalence

In this week's Facebook Live* I spoke to fellow coach Katrina Court about maternal ambivalence.

Many people mistakenly think that to be ambivalent means to be not be bothered one way or another. But what it actually means is to have conflicting emotions about something.

Conflicting emotions relating to motherhood can mean that we love our children AND:

  • find motherhood hard

  • miss our lives before we became mothers

  • need time to ourselves

  • want to work

  • don’t enjoy play time

…you get the gist.

In motherhood, it is normal to feel conflicted emotions, yet we tend not to admit to having them, for fear of being judged or labelled as a ‘bad mother.’

“You chose to be a mother” is a phrase that pops up for me in moments where maternal ambivalence raises its head. “So suck it up, Buttercup.”

Indeed, our societal conditioning runs so deep that when we have brought life into the world we feel that we must capitulate ourselves entirely at the altar of motherhood.

Any deviation from our purpose as life creators and nurturers, for example acts of self-nurture or - shock, horror! - returning to work to make a living, are thus perceived by ourselves and by others as at best selfish or at worst downright neglectful.

Cue our old friends Guilt and Shame.

But here’s the thing:

When we become mothers, we don’t automatically have a personality transplant.

Motherhood changes us in fundamental ways, but it doesn’t change what lights us up, or what we need to refill our cup.

Yes, we chose to become mothers, but did we really know what we were letting ourselves in for when we made that choice?

Because, let’s face it, this motherhood gig’s a hell of a lot harder than the job ad.

So what do we do with our feelings of maternal ambivalence?

It's so important to have self-compassion, and to investigate our feelings with the invitation, “What do I need?”

Because, as with maternal guilt, ambivalent feelings around motherhood can often arise because of an unmet need.

When we are better able to connect with and address our needs, we may well find that we struggle less with conflicting emotions.

Have you struggled with conflicting emotions around motherhood?

I’d love to know in the comments.

*Search ‘The Flourishing Mother Community’ on FB to join my free group and get access to this and all previous sessions.

woman and daughter


bottom of page