Putting one out there for the mamas this time.
With so much pressure on ourselves, and on our children, in these changing, uncertain times, many of us are feeling like we’re failing, or at the very least floundering. As our babies struggle to make sense of this world and themselves, their anxieties, failures and confusion becomes ours as well. Our hearts bend, bruise and break watching them and trying to shield and guide them, and when we can’t protect them from pain or failure, we hurt too and feel like we are failing as well.With so much pressure on women to succeed at everything we do, to take on everything that’s asked of us, and with the role of motherhood losing its value and influence in the myriad of expectations and requirements we need to fulfill just to keep our own heads above water, it’s tempting to believe our children’s troubles and battles are our fault somehow. We think if we could be better mothers, then perhaps they wouldn’t feel and think as they do, but for the life of us, we can’t physically or emotionally do more than we are. Their pain becomes our shame.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a mother, it’s that the more I love who I am, the more powerful my mothering becomes. Not in terms of solving their problems or healing their wounds, but simply in showing them how they can become their own safe place, their own spiritual and emotional guide, and how to practice acute self care when shame, stress and failure threaten to overcome them. Our children need to love themselves first before all others, not narcissistically, but empathically, and nobody can show them how with more power than we can.Dear mother, your children’s pain is not a sign of your failings. Each of our babies is on their own journey and some of the things they suffer are destined for them, just as ours were for us. It’s a time for us to learn to forgive our parents as we come to understand they were not to blame for all the things that happened, or did not happen to us. And in our burgeoning self-care and self-nurture, as we attend to taking care of our shit and owning our choices, as we practice empathy, patience, reflection and a willingness to sit with shadow, face unpleasant and hurtful situations with wisdom, and totally take care of ourselves without hiding our vulnerabilities or faking strength, we teach them how to navigate their own lives simply by doing it in front of them.
Our children need to see us loving ourselves the way we hope they will love who and what they are. If we want them to see and appreciate the unique and incredible people they are, we must teach ourselves always to speak and act to that person in them always, despite their words and actions towards us. We must forgive their judgements of us, but refuse to buy into them. And we must listen to the things they say to us and do, because these things teach us what they think and believe, rather than showing us who we are. Most of all, we must acknowledge our children are not put here to please us, represent us or be symbols of our success or failure, and we have no right to expect them to be so.We must love them simply because we are their mama, and when they leave our presence they can find any old shithead on the street who’ll judge them or tell them how fucked up and unworthy they are, but we can and must be the one person who does not. And we must first be that person to ourselves, because we too can find anyone out there who will remind us of our failures, our shame and point out our flaws. When we become our own hero, we teach our children to become theirs.
Tell your child every day in a few words they are loved. Tell them it’s unconditional. Tell them you believe in them. And show them. And before you do, make sure these are things you’re doing for yourself as well.Mama, you’re doing a great job. You’re doing the best you can. You are worthy, valuable and important. And your children have no other mama – you’re the one they chose to raise them before you even knew they were on the way. You’re together for so many reasons. Let yourself let go of the pressure – your relationship to your child is eternal, and their blood is your blood, even if they’re not born of your body. They love you. This is without question. The only thing you need to be reminded of – because we have no right to ask our children if they love us – is do we love ourselves.Mama, first, love yourself. Our loving ourselves heals and protects our children so much more than we can ever know or understand.
Selah and namaste