When I decided to become a mother, I think my expectation was that mothering would be filled with peace and ease. I was going to make conscious parenting decisions and I just knew that I'd be in awe of how beautiful parenting and my relationship with my kids would be. While there is peace and ease and parenting can be beautiful, that's just not always my day-to-day reality.
No one told me that I would be consumed by this new little person and that my life as I knew it before children was now over. Yet no one told me that this little person would shape me and call me to be a much better person, to reach into the depths of my soul and reflect who I really was deep down inside. I didn't realize it was a call to heal those deeply wounded parts of me in ways that I wouldn't have healed otherwise. I knew it would be a journey, but I didn't know how much pain and joy could be held in a single moment until I became a mother.
I've struggled to find the "right" path for my family. So many decisions- Ultrasounds or doppler only? Induce? Midwife or OB? Vaccinate, partially vaccinate, not vaccinate? Co-sleep or use a crib? Breastfeed? What do I do about the biting? The not sleeping? That mysterious rash? Gluten or no gluten? Ear infections- antibiotics, probiotics, homeopathics, Pediatrician or chiropractor? Preschool? Homeschool? Private school? Unschool? Vegetarian or are we eating meat? If we're eating meat, where am I buying it? Is it allergies or something else? How do I set limits with my child in a loving way? Sibling issues- how do I handle those with love? These are the kinds of things that weigh heavily on mothers and that can keep us up at night. We want to make the "right" decisions for our child and for our family. We care deeply.
While some would argue that there are no mistakes in parenting, I know there are many times when I've felt like I wasn't doing it right, good enough, or that I had surely ruined my children. There are plenty of things that I would do differently if I could go back in time, but I think it is another important motherhood lesson is to learn to forgive myself and remember that I was and I am doing the best that I can. Always, and not just when things work out the way I think they should. I've never once woken up in the morning and said to myself, "I'm going to be a lousy parent today. Let's see what I can do to mess up my kids or make bad decisions on their behalf." Yet, there are times when it is hard to let it all go, to embrace myself with compassion, and know that I'm actually right on schedule- that the timing of everything is perfect and divine, even when- maybe especially when- I'm not feeling it in that moment.
Parenting is challenging, especially when you strive to parent consciously. And it is even harder because most of us are under-supported and trying to do too much on our own. And while the number of consciously parenting folks are increasing, it can still seem like we're the only one we know. I didn't realize that I would have times I felt so isolated surrounded by other parents.
I don't have all the answers. Sometimes I feel like I don't know anything and wonder what I was thinking to sign up for this parenting thing (on purpose) more than once, let alone supporting other parents. It is humbling. And it is in those moments that I'm reminded how much we all need each other. What I can't see in my own life and parenting, my friends usually can. And I know that I do the same for other parents, despite (and probably because of) my own parenting disappointments and challenges. I know in my heart that parenting consciously is probably the most important thing that I'll ever do. And I know in my heart that, through all the highs and the lows, I wouldn't really change much about our journey. Do I wish it was less painful sometimes? Yes. But is it worth it? Absolutely. Mothering has made me who I am today and who I will become will be indelibly shaped by my time spent parenting my children. I do not know what lies ahead, but I know that somehow we're going to figure it out together one day at a time.
Mother's Day is a wonderful reason to do something extra nurturing for yourself and I hope that's what you've been doing today. But remember that we can't save our nurturing time for once a year. I hope that every day, you find a way to celebrate your mothering journey, even in small ways. After all, this is the most important work we'll ever do. If we don't appreciate ourselves, no one else will, either.
Happy Mother's Day,