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How to Overcome Trauma While Being a Mother

Crystal Fuller

Marie is a mom in her late twenties with a beautiful two-year-old son, Jason. About once a week, while playing with him, Marie started to notice that something would trigger her into an emotional breakdown. The first time it was while playing catch and Jason caught her off guard by throwing the ball hard and direct toward her face. Another time was when they were wrestling, and Jason unintentionally pulled her hair. She found herself starting to cry and would go into the bathroom so she could try to collect herself. She felt like she was a terrible mom, why couldn’t she see these episodes as the unintentional acts of a toddler? After all, they aren’t life-threatening. Why did they trigger her into an emotional mess?

When we have been through trauma, we don’t have control over what will trigger us to relive a part of that experience. Sometimes those triggers can be our children. This is confusing and frustrating as we love our children more than anything and don’t want to connect them with anything bad in our past. However, it is not uncommon to say that raising children can test even those who have not had a traumatic experience. It can be hard and giving yourself grace is important.

We want to model healthy emotions for our kids and not allow our trauma to become intergenerational. This is why it becomes vital to address our trauma and deal with it in a healthy way. One of those ways is through self-care.

As moms, we tend to put our family’s needs before ours, but taking some time out for ourselves can do a world of good for our mental health and in our relationships with our family. Simple routine activities such as taking showers, brushing your teeth, getting enough sleep, exercising, and good nutrition are examples of ways that we can have good self-care. Another important item is connecting with our friends on a social level. Set a goal to get out of the house regularly with friends in an environment that is non-stressful.

One mom stated, “finding ways to get some time to myself” helped her cope with her 2-year-old’s moods: “Part of it is recognizing what has caused the trigger, understanding that I'm not in danger.” This mom also found that getting outside or listening to music was calming.

Another mom shared “When my toddler hit me for the first time, he innocently became my abuser, and I once again felt those mixed feelings of rage and terror,” she recalled. “Holding these experiences in ... and staying a compassionate, centered parent was the hardest thing I did.” Sometimes we need to accept that we can’t do it: “Make space to grieve and be at peace [knowing] that we are not perfect and no one can ever be.”

Self-care can be defined on so many levels. It’s about what can ease the tension. Decide what you need the most and figure out how to incorporate it into your life. As we take care of ourselves, we become emotionally and mentally stronger so that we can be the mothers we want to be without the worry of breaking down when doing something as simple as playing with our kids.


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