The Emotional Work of a Mother

Mothers take care of their families with body, mind and soul. But what happens when they stop taking care of themselves to take care of others?
The Emotional Work of a Mother
Mara Amor López

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Mara Amor López.

Written by Mara Amor López

Last update: 27 December, 2022

The emotional work of a mother not only involves managing the feelings related to motherhood, but also her emotions as a wife, as a working woman, as a housewife, among others. Many times, this work becomes an uphill struggle and often takes a back seat to one’s own feelings as a woman.

All mothers strive for a healthy emotional dynamic within the home, within our possibilities and limitations. We have to-do lists, the desire to do more than we achieve, and the need to be the best moms for our children.

While each of these aspects is important, we mustn’t stop listening to ourselves. Because if we work on who we are and what we feel, we’ll be able to give the best of ourselves to our children and family.

What’s the emotional work of a mom

The emotional work of a mom includes the little things that are done on a daily basis for the welfare of the family. For the most part, all women are the emotional support of their families, and this work, although arduous, is very valuable.

When we go to bed, hundreds of thoughts, pending to-do lists, emotions, and worries come to our minds. However, at that moment, we must push them aside and let them go in order to get the rest we so desperately need.

Even with pending tasks, with emotions of guilt and regrets, we’re the same wonderful moms and women as always.

A toddler girl looking at her mother crying.
Mothers are human beings who feel, experience mixed emotions, and try to overcome daily difficulties in the best way possible. Don’t repress what happens to you.

What happens to our emotions when we become mothers?

Normally, many moms repress our negative emotions and refuse to feel them. Either because to society, they’re “inappropriate”, or because we think we need to set a perfect example for our children.

In either case, we have to allow ourselves to experience them and let them out. Otherwise, they’ll come out at some point and in some other way. Generally, in an inconvenient way.

How can these repressed emotions come out?

Encrypted emotions find a way to escape and they do it in different ways: As tears, a feeling of tiredness and constant exhaustion, physical pain, and even in the form of the disease.

Therefore, knowing how to manage each of the emotions we feel is essential so that they don’t end up damaging us.

The role of a mother, a job from sunrise to sunset

Mothers are usually the pillar of our homes. We’re housewives, teachers, nurses, mediators, psychologists, workers, wives, cooks, and much more.

Sometimes, our role as women gets lost along the way and we move away from that beautiful essence that characterizes us. Little by little, we stop taking care of ourselves (even loving ourselves) to fully focus on our role as a mother.

The important thing is to understand that the first and most important thing in our lives is ourselves. And this isn’t called selfishness, but self-understanding and self-love.

We need to think about ourselves and work more in favor of our well-being in order to give the best to our family. If we make mistakes, that’s okay, they’re life’s lessons. And what others suppose or think doesn’t have to keep us awake at night.

There are no perfect mothers, nor homes in which we never hear a scream due to a tantrum. There are moments of anger, tiredness, and “I can’t take it anymore”. However, we shouldn’t allow them to become our habitual ways of reacting.

What can we do with these emotions?

No matter how much external help we seek in order to solve this maelstrom of persistent emotions and thoughts, we’re the ones who have to work on them from within.

If we don’t take care of ourselves inside and out, no one else will. And if we put off this task, our bodies will let us know.

Therefore, there are no magic recipes to lend us a hand if we don’t make a daily effort to work on our emotions. This is an internal change, as we must recognize what hurts us and accept it without remorse or guilt.

Then, we have to devise a plan to achieve the change of mindset. For this, we can resort to deep breathing, practice yoga, implement relaxation or meditation, exercise, or anything that helps us lead a healthier life.

Taking an hour a week to dedicate it to ourselves isn’t a sin or a selfish act because we deserve it and because we owe it to our bodies, minds, and souls. It’s fundamental that we stop making excuses and start taking care of ourselves.

Five women walking with their arms around one another's waists.
Always remember that if we don’t take care of ourselves and love ourselves, who’s going to do it?

About the emotional work of a mom

The emotional work of a mom begins in herself, in accepting the emotions that come up, elaborating them, and letting them go.

Keep in mind that all mothers are human and that we don’t have superpowers to fulfill everything. We go through emotional bumps, we live and feel like everyone else.

The most important thing in our life is time and this can’t be bought or sold. Living in the present without worrying about tomorrow will allow us to enjoy more of what we have and what we’ve achieved.

“Live for today, learn from your emotions, and enjoy life as the unique and special woman you are.”


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • de Schejtman, C. R., Lapidus, A., Vardy, I., Leonardelli, E., Silver, R., Umansky, E., … & Zucchi, A. (2005). ESTUDIO DE LA EXPRESIVIDAD EMOCIONAL Y LA REGULACIÓN AFECTIVA EN DÍADAS MADRE-BEBÉ DURANTE EL PRIMER AÑO DE VIDA Y SU RELACIÓN CON LA AUTOESTIMA MATERNA. Anuario de investigaciones, 12, 327-336.
  • Vilar, N. T. (2006). Reflexiones acerca del desarrollo emocional de la madre, a partir de la obra de Winnicott. Persona, (9), 203-215.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.