Happy Mother's Day
BLESSINGS TO ALL YOU MOTHERS, whether you are married, divorced, single, step, guardians, borrowed, you name it. Cherish the job you do. In my opinion there is no job more important.
Waking up and feeling a little blue that my daughter is away at college for Mother's Day, I searched my files for a reflection my therapist had me write the first Mother's Day that she was with her father and stepmother. It was an exercise of self love and gratitude that all of us might need need to return to from time to time.
Who Am I at My Best as a Mom and How Do I Get That Way?
It is all too easy to dwell in my mind on who I am at my worst as a parent. Tired and stressed, snapping at people, strung tighter than a drum, only having time for the agenda in my head and not for the people around me. Increasingly convinced that no one else gets it, that no one else understands the number of balls I have in air or the demands on my time, I become a raging inferno. At best I ignore my children and am unresponsive. At my witchiest I yell and give commands with the clear tone of "Any idiot could see that I need your help right now and what kind of brat are you for not giving it to me." Not a pretty picture. But you get it, right? You've been there, haven't you?
But you know what? Honestly, when I am at my best, I am pretty damn good! I keep my eye on the long view. I know that happy, harmonious relationships today are more important than picking up the dry cleaning or washing the dishes. I listen attentively without leaping to advice giving. I really see and know and cherish my children at each of their stages.
At my best I hold my children as the wise beings they are. Yes, they are works in progress (aren't we all?) and will make a lot of mistakes on the way. But that's okay, because at my best I trust that they will learn through their mistakes and failures and that it is not my job to rescue them. I trust that wherever possible by letting them feel the natural consequences of their actions, they will use that experience and apply it next time.
At my best I recognize that children all learn at their own pace and in their own way. I don't worry they are not enough. I trust that they will find their way eventually: I can help them on their journey, but I cannot take the journey for them. Also, I cannot live my life through them. It is their job to find their interests and passions. If I stay out of the way and don't push things down their throats, the natural curiosity that all children are born with will mature into their being lifelong learners who pursue knowledge for knowledge sake--not just to make their parents or teachers happy.
At my best I really enjoy my children. I love playing with them and being silly. I love hearing them talk and joke. I love the warm, physical closeness of snuggles and hugs. I love watching them discover the world and gain mastery over new skills. I love how when given the chance they become effective problem solvers. I love listening to their values and worldview unfold through our many conversations.
At my best, I really am good.
So what does it take to be my best? Well, first and foremost, I have to take care of myself. That means enough sleep and exercise and good food; that means learning to say no to say people no matter the pressure; and that means not getting too hung up on doing everything right. It also means having time just for me--to read, to do nothing. I have to have time with my girlfriends to offload steam and complain and be reassured that it will be okay. Equally important is time alone with my spouse. When things get busy, we talk nothing but logistics. If I don't get one-on-one time with him, it is like I lose my mooring, my anchor. It is our time together that reminds me of my purpose, of who we are as a couple, of what we are building. It is that which makes me recommit to the vision of a strong, united family (no matter how far away that might feel). But most importantly, what really helps me be my best parent is allowing myself to soak up the love and to count my blessings, to be filled with gratitude that I am lucky enough to be my child's mom. For better or worse, at the end of the day, no matter what, I am hers and she is mine.