As a child, I was obsessed with dolls and barbies, and playing “house”, “school” and “church” (yes church, receiving the host like a good catholic girl). I started to babysit when I was 10 and I loved being around babies and taking care of little ones. In my family of origin, the women were professional mothers who, on occasion, would take up a side job to have a little spending money. This was really all that I knew, it was my perspective on being a mother, and I wanted to be a parent so much, wanted to have babies and take care of other little humans. Little did I know the emotional upheaval that occurs when you make and raise, your own humans.
Don’t get me wrong, my parenting journey has been filled with countless amazing and wonderful times. The love I feel is truly unconditional and I will love these wonderful people no matter what. When I became a new parent, it was a love as I had never experienced before and with that love, under full stealth mode, came the unhealthy part – the responsibility I took on. I wanted to be the best parent I could be but ironically this led to me not being the best version of myself. Working so hard to embody what I thought makes the best parent, I did not accept imperfection and struggled very well. Having grown up thinking that things should come easily and when they don’t, something is wrong with you, my struggles wounded me. So, undoubtedly, my kids inadvertently received less than optimal messaging…when they struggled with homework, I was not the best parent because at the time, within my body, I held memories of crying at the dining room table and feeling completely incompetent while doing homework. I also felt that what mattered most were ‘appearances’, making it seem as though my program was always 100%, completely locked down. So I would be the mom who made the over-the-top decorated cupcakes for class parties while at home I would get very frustrated when the kids wanted to help because this would threaten the perfect imagery I had created in my mind.
Parenting has shown me a side of myself that I kept secret – the shadow, the part that I dare not show anyone outside of my inner circle and frankly, having learned so much, I try to spare them now. This shadow can be harsh, judgemental, manipulative, short, impatient, resentful, selfish and downright mean. For a very long time I was so afraid to admit I felt and behaved this way which caused so much anxiety, sadness, resentment and loneliness. After much work and practice, now, when the shadow rears its ugly head, I am much more aware, and quick to recognize the trigger, apologize and do the work of healing. My house feels more peaceful and I feel better being able to regulate my emotions, keep my emotional @#$% together and be the best version of myself which, I happily accept, is far from perfect.
I have struggled parenting, I have had a reckoning with and an acceptance of how I was parented, and I have accepted that my IDEAL of parenting was based on a fairytale. Life is not Disney, but there are beautiful, vulnerable, courageous, and real moments if you open yourself up to them. This is the work of becoming whole, one small step at a time. My first small step was beginning to become present and aware 15 years ago. The work is part of the journey. I have come to understand this and I say it with acceptance and no blame.
This is my journey. I spent too much time wishing for something different and trying to force things to work the way I thought they SHOULD. I have let that go and practice,” it is what it is”. Understanding I have very little control over anything but myself. This has been my practice for the last 5 years and I have made a 180 in how I am in my relationship with myself, my kids, my spouse and the world. Don’t sell yourself short. You are a creator, intuitive, lover, adventurer, peacemaker and changemaker. Now is the time to get to know yourself.. Don’t wait. You certainly deserve it and so does everyone you love…Understand it is often messy and uncomfortable BUT so worth it…