“If you could have any superpower what would it be?”
This is a light-hearted conversation that can spring up between many mums and their kids, but it can hide a deeper truth- as mums, sometimes we do feel as if we’re gifted with a “superpower”.
Sometimes, we’re invisible.
Almost from conception and the sharing of the happy news, a mother may feel the veil of invisibility draping over her. Questions become focused on the baby, and why wouldn’t they be? This baby relies on you to be happy and to thrive. And this continues to a different degree after you give birth. Your precious bundle is fully dependent on you to keep it healthy and cared for to transition to life outside the womb. On the easy days, you feel like a superhero, a powerful earth mother who’s facilitated one of life’s greatest miracles. On the hard days, you feel like nothing more than a life support system.
A woman’s role in the family can be overwhelming. This isn’t to put down the contributions of men, just a statement of the fact that traditionally these roles are different. And in many cases, women are carrying the load when it comes to the smooth operation of the family. They are both the cogs and the machine.
Sometimes we feel invisible to our families, and it’s shocking how normal this can feel. In all the caregiving, the domestic tasks, the carrying of the mental load, our own needs are just another bit of heavy lifting. We pick up the laundry, and the dishes, as nobody asks us for what we’d like for dinner, we sometimes stop and wonder “am I invisible?”. In the moments when we yell at our kids to listen, or for our partners to help more, or for some help around the house, what we’re screaming is “Am I invisible? Can’t you see that this shouldn’t all be on me?”
And we don’t have the time or the energy to point this out. Why can’t they recognise this on their own.
Some would argue that to have your needs met, it’s your responsibility to make them see you. But to be honest, when you’re balancing the needs of everyone else and the responsibilities of the home, you can feel like you are simply out of gas when it comes to asserting that your own needs are met. The paradox is that when you put your own needs on the back burner, how can you expect anyone else to prioritize them? It’s a vicious trap, so you end up complacent in your own invisibility.
As mums, many of us feel invisible. It’s not ideal, and it weighs on us. It doesn’t feel very “super” at all. Although it sucks when our families aren’t noticing on their own, they also aren’t mind readers. The best thing we can do for our cause is to set boundaries and open communication- “I am struggling, please see me”.
So if you’re a mother and you feel like you aren’t being seen, know this- you’re not alone. Hopefully with time, communication, and honesty, you’ll begin to feel seen again.