Ask the Therapist 

Question: “I am struggling with motherhood.  I feel so overwhelmed and guilty all the time.  It feels hard to keep up with everything.  I feel so overstimulated by our schedule and the stress in our home.  The whole experience of parenthood is way harder than I ever expected.  I didn’t see our life being so busy when I first became a mother.  I wish we had more time to enjoy each other and feel connected.  Now we all are just exhausted when we are home and stare at our devices.  I want to be better for my family.  Help!”

Dear Reader, 

Thank you for your vulnerable and brave share.  I am sure there are many parents reading this right now that could relate to what you are saying.  I want to take a moment to note that for the sake of the article, I will be referencing mostly women and mothers, however, I must emphasize that all of this can also be a shared experience by those parents who identify as men, transgendered, and/or non-binary. 

As a therapist who practices from a decolonized lens, I am acutely aware of how the systems in which we live create many of the symptoms that we are experiencing as individuals, couples, and families.  Many people come into my office and say, “what’s wrong with me?  I can’t keep up with everyone else,” in some way or another.  And some of the first layers we explore, are how none of us were meant to keep up at this pace as human beings.  

The history of the society in which we find ourselves is built on hyper-individualization, industry, and productivity. The role of the mother or caregiver has long been abandoned as something of importance.  Although most people will say that it is in conversation, the overall systems in which we live neglects the care of the caregiving, child rearing, teaching occupations – including the work of the stay-at-home mother.  I don’t have the word count to go into this as much as I would like, but I need you to know that you are not alone, that there is nothing wrong with you, and it is very normal to feel overwhelmed, isolated, and confused. It feels like motherhood is expected to be done in isolation, plus the added pressures of conforming to a fast paced society that rewards doing more and spending more.  

Already with a fresh kindergartener in tow – I am amazed at how quickly my family could be swept up in copious events and extracurricular activities.  The fear that my child is falling behind her peers is a real thing. This is what I am talking about when it comes to internal pressures that are coming from an outside force.  A family really needs to decide what their values are going to be and sculpt their decisions from that place.  Otherwise, the sea is wide, and our boat is small.

The overarching demand of capitalism will surely engulf you if you are not rooted in your own heart’s desires as a mother, parent, and family.  You must decide what your family has the capacity to endure as well.  Just because you want to do something, doesn’t mean you, and/or your child, or your family has the capacity to do it – physically, financially, or otherwise.  We overspend in all areas of our resources, both internally and externally, in order to keep up with the fast-paced rhythm of our culture.  But the whole world is showing all the signs and signals that we are in desperate need of slowing down and coming back to what matters most.  

The high rates of physical disease, mental health disorders, etc. show us that we are out of balance.  When looking at the root cause of many of these issues, stress is the number one factor. We must start looking at the quality of connections and support, not the quantity of things we have, or the number of  social events on our calendar.  

I invite you to truly ask yourselves where all of this stress originates; what is its core foundation? You feel overwhelmed on a regular basis and are acutely awarethat the way that you are parenting is out of alignment with what you truly desire.  Ultimately, we can’t get away from feeling this way in parenthood at times, but one way that we can create a bit more empowerment is by taking the reins on the amount of stress we are under, and by increasing the level of support we have in our lives.  

This will mean you will need to let go of control, ask for help, actually let others help.  Allow it to be imperfect, feel vulnerable in being held in the messiness that is mothering in the modern age. Take time for yourself, even as you feel guilty doing it. Connect with other parents in ways that are more quiet, intimate and real, and slow way down. There may be some boundaries that need to be set in the home and in the schedule so that you can come back to your body as the mother, find your center, be nourished, and be the muse of the household. 

I understand I shared a lot here and there is much more to say.  But to summarize, I invite you to consider decreasing stress where you can and increase use of your support systems as much as possible!  You and your children are worthy of being well-nourished in both the physical and emotional realm. That won’t happen in a silo.  We need each other.

I offer various support circles and workshops to help women, couples, and individuals learn about their nervous systems and how that impacts their relationships with their kids, partners, and their own self-esteem.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like more specific support on how to find the ease and pleasure in parenting that you are searching and hoping for – knowing that as long as we live in a stress disordered society, we will only be able to go so far until there are more supportive systems in place for mothers and caregivers.  Do your best, you are not alone.  Again, I am here for you! 

All my love, 


JACKIE PAULSON | Therapist and Yoga Instructor

Jackie Paulson teaches yoga, is a licensed mental health counselor in the state of Iowa, and yoga teacher in Sioux City. She holds a deeply held intention in her work: to empower somatic awareness that increases the connection and sacred wisdom within individuals and communities. Jackie facilitates in-depth yoga trainings, experiential process groups, individual + couples therapy, and energy work. The inspiration that fuels her teaching includes philosophy, myth, depth psychology, and subtle body practices. A lifelong student of the practice, Jackie completed her 300hr Yoga Teacher October 2017 and continues her education of Tantra and Somatic therapy with teachers from around the world.

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