‘Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all’ – Pema Chödrön
There were times that I wished I never had children but I didn’t say it out loud. I felt guilty about it and was afraid that someone would call Child Services and have me arrested for thinking unmotherly thoughts. Besides, I wanted to discourage the Universe from actually granting me my wishes (little did I know that the Universe can read minds but we’ll talk about this another time), so I kept my usual loud mouth shut and continued with what I was doing as best as I knew how.
This is not a story on how dreadful life as a parent can be. This is an ode to all the conflict that comes with the responsibility of being one. Because to experience spiritual growth and mental strengthening, in the midst of wading through baby vomit, while getting a series of doors slammed in your face by a 15 year old, is complete deliverance. However contradictory it may seem, it made me appreciate my role as a mother more, and gifted me with the joy of overcoming.
My childhood was far from perfect so I was set on making sure that my children wouldn’t have to experience the chaos that was once my life. I could’ve gone the other way and become an overprotective parent but I didn’t. I’m not perfect but I’d like to think that I’m a good mother and doing a great job at raising my boys into men. I would like to be more patient, less self-absorbed and more matronly in my behaviour (I embarrass my eldest) but other than these defects, I trust I own motherhood. Back then I wasn’t so sure though.
This is not a story on how dreadful life as a parent can be. This is an ode to all the conflict that comes with the responsibility of being one.
I was 22 when I became a mother for the first time and I didn’t know a thing about life. Let alone the life of another, but I had voluntarily laid the first bricks of my bumpy road and I was skipping my way over and on it with the best of intentions. To make up for what I was lacking in experience I read as much as I could on the subject of rearing children, solemn motherhood and practicing perfect parenting. To have fun I watched Oprah. Oprah and books saved my life many a time. I am not going to dull you with a list of life changing literature that transformed me into an exemplary mother, because you apparently are a reader and do not need me telling you what words to internalize in order to be more like me. I’m also not going to tell you how beautiful Miss Winfrey is. This we already know for sure.
What I am going to do is try to convince you that you should be more like you. That the part that is uniquely you is also the part that is the best mom. I wish for you that the belief that you have about what is right will be based on what feels true in your heart, and that not knowing what the heck you’re doing is a blessing in disguise.
I hope for you that you will recognize that making mistakes are the foundations of the makings of truths and that your life cannot be fully lived without them. I want for you perfection as you see fit. For me having a child meant the opportunity to right all that was wrong with me and my life.
A chance to redeem myself, to give my all and everything to this baby and excel a thousand fold at love. And I did. I loved my son as much as any proper mother would and with a selflessness that is universally expected from women. I neglected myself. I was sleep deprived, faked happiness and ignored all physical and mental signs of fatigue and depression. I loved with a full heart but denied myself the same courtesy. I didn’t take care of myself and when you do that you are being the best mom the world has ever seen right?
I don’t think so.
How can you possibly give the best when you are running out of good to give? I didn’t fully get this until my first child was in his early teens but I can say with certainty, now that I have a toddler running around again, that I won’t make the same mistake twice. And you know why? Because I know better now and I consciously make the effort to do better. I have been growing (up) with my children and figured out that if I want them to be happy and live a life of strength, joy and purpose, I have to lead them into such a life by example.
I wish for you that the belief that you have about what is right will be based on what feels true in your heart, and that not knowing what the heck you’re doing is a blessing in disguise.
And how does one do that you might wonder? How do you become a woman of courage and power when your entire life has been anything but a purposeful journey? How do you change from having dim expectations to a life of conscious choice? How do you set a new standard when you have no idea what to ask for?
Well, first accept that. That you have no idea what to do and that you don’t have to. When I started to wrap my head around this concept, and I mean really comprehend the full meaning of it, I opened the door to self acceptance. That is step 2. The idea of being ok with who you are even if everything around you isn’t ideal. Accepting myself in its entirety, flaws, fallacies and all, was life changing for me. All the unidentifiable pressure was lifted and freedom of the unearthly kind washed over me. Space was being created inside and all around me.
It didn’t happen overnight though. I had to learn the hard way like most of us. You see, I’m the type of person that needs to know everything beforehand because not knowing everything meant inviting misery into my life. It meant that I willingly let myself be a victim of chance and life. And life hurt. At least that is what I believed. I was so afraid of not having things ready in time and not having the entire day planned out to perfection that I lost touch of what was real and important to me. The things that matter. Love and courage. Honesty and joy. God and faith.
Accepting myself in its entirety, flaws, fallacies and all, was life changing for me. All the unidentifiable pressure was lifted and freedom of the unearthly kind washed over me.
You can’t hold back life lessons you know. I tried. Try to run and hide and deny and ignore and look the other way but the Universe has a persistent way of popping up unexpectedly until you listen and do what is true.
I could give you all kinds of tips and tricks on what to do and what not to do, so you can actively take control of not taking control but I won’t. I can’t. I wouldn’t know what to tell you besides what I’m telling you right now. That raising children can be harrowing. It’s demanding. It’s often very lonely, especially when you’re a single parent. Days seem endlessly long and nights too short. And I cannot tell you exactly what it is that made me get up in the morning and try all over again (and again and again) but we all know mothers have access to innate powers when needed. I suppose I called upon those.
Whenever I felt like jumping off a cliff and squash myself into oblivion I went and jumped off my couch instead. Because in an instant I would’ve interrupted my usual frenzy and felt ridiculous for wanting to jump off a cliff. Not because my feelings were ridiculous, they were not, but because I never in a million years would’ve wanted my boys to live without me. Who would love them like I do? Who would neglect themselves and lose sleep over my babies? Who would fake happiness and ignore all physical and mental signs of fatigue and depression in service of my sons? No one would. Only me.
Children sense who you are. The your you I mean, not the other people’s you. They have a piercing way of reading you at one glance (or sound) and process this data without you even noticing it (#becauseyouweretoobusy). All they want is your undivided attention and unconditional love. They want you to be you, but somewhere along the way we adults stopped listening to our inner truths.
And I cannot tell you exactly what it is that made me get up in the morning and try all over again (and again and again) but we all know mothers have access to innate powers when needed. I suppose I called upon those.
I don’t want this to happen to my children so I try to do my part and look within, act purposefully and hope they will follow my lead. I trust them to do what they think is right because I am doing what I think is right. I have never done anything with this much conviction as teaching my children about self-acceptance. I want them to know that trusting their intuition is what will help them be their truest selves. No matter what the circumstances. Truth from within will always show truth in your outer world.
So, I said goodbye to my control freak self and made the conscious choice to not be perfect. And now that I didn’t have to be perfect there was room for the mundane, like love and joy. You know, the things that brought you here in the first place.
Becoming a mother marked the start of my unselfish life. The start. Not the completion. It took me a while to be comfortable with the knowledge that I don’t have to have all the answers and that all I needed was, at the very least, a few minutes of stillness every day. It is perfectly normal for any woman to be overwhelmed and feel outnumbered by one single baby.
There were countless times that my son and I cried together while I held him close until we both fell asleep. Those times I remember best because despite the fact that I was physically exhausted these moments also created heartstrings.
For every cry my babies and I cried together we exchanged a heartstring. Sometimes 20 at one session. Now our hearts are connected in so many intricate ways, its material is woven thick with love.
I want my sons to become beautiful strong men. Men that see God in everyone they meet. I wish for them joy and happiness and a life filled with excitement and newness. I want them to learn, see and experience things and grow up into people that care for others and the world they live in. But most importantly I hope with all my heart that they realize how important it is to love and accept themselves first. I want them to have such a solid and grounded base that their lives cannot but sprout marvellous things.
When you feel like you can’t take it anymore go stand on a couch and jump off. It will most likely bring you a few minutes of stupidity and lightness in your otherwise congested day. Embrace that moment. The times when I felt most desperate for an answer I simply waited. I’m not scared of not knowing anymore. I welcome it because I have experienced that in this not knowing an answer always comes.
Motherhood is thick with love and confusion is a gift from God. You should trust both to bring you the best of yourself. And then you can abound in giving.
Sending you buckets full of stupidity and lightness all the way from here to wherever you are.
Originally published at meandmrdarcy.com