Parenthood is really about ourselves.
That's my realization. We think, and we're taught, and we're funneled into this idea that once you become a parent, it's all about them. It's all about them. It's all about them. Today, I challenge that idea.
1) Because when it's all about them, we take too much responsibility for our kid's stuff.
2) Because when it's all about them, we don't have to take responsibility for our own stuff. We call it parenting stress instead.
What I really mean:
1) Every parent who has ever parented has at some point KNOWN with absolute certainty for some fleeting second that there isn't a thing you can do to determine who your kid will grow up to be. What they'll want. Who they'll marry--oh you can force, coerce, bully and ridicule to create an automaton of a being, but if you're the kind of person who's not interested in producing robots, you realize at some point, that your child may do drugs, have abusive partners, >>insert your biggest fear here<<. It could happen someday, and when it all boils down, there is little you can do about it.
Even now, I can't control when my two year old is going to stick her tongue out at someone, or when my 5 year old will roll her eyes at me. I can teach them about respect and all that nice stuff, but ultimately it's their choice to embrace any attribute they choose be it self-respect, independence, work ethic....whatever.
When it comes to teaching our children, our words should serve as reminders. There is no need to feel mortified when my child acts like a maniac in public, or seems immature for her age, or behaves from a place of aggression or fear. It is not a reflection on our parenting (now let me say here, that many children have garbage for parents, and I'm not letting belittling, abusive parents off the hook--I'm speaking to the parents out there who are trying to get it right), it's a reflection of where they are at. Rather than be emotionally invested in my children's behavior through embarrassment OR (and this is the big one for me) through stress and fatigue rooted frustration, we can take simply take note....remind ourselves of where they are at, so we can, at the right time, remind them of where they are at and give them some direction on how to get to the next spot in the journey of being human. For example: our two year old is in the "No, it's mine, I'll hit you" spot of this human journey. My job as a parent is to OVER AND OVER remind her that, "Sweetheart, there is a better way to do this, and this is how.....see, now everyone is so much happier." Job done. You know, like, 45 times every single day until she moves through this place. Every kid does it. Every kid develops at different times. That's her stuff. As a parent(and a human being) I have the option to detach my feelings of worth and well being from the behavior that I am a witness to. I'm the mother. I mother her through it.
The mothering is my stuff.
So about that:
2) Oh my...I hope I'm right about this and it's not just another stupid theory. This better be a breakthrough, and that's all I have to say before I say more on the subject...:).
My stuff...This parenting thing has been riding hard on me lately. I've been feeling bitter about it. About all I am required to give because I'm a mom. About how my children want SOOO MUCH of ME. ME!! All the time. I am growing quiet with them. I am shutting down, particularly around the eldest. I feel I have no more to give and it is all. their. fault. How ridiculous. I've been sitting with this for weeks. WEEKS! Just now I'm kicking myself for not realizing. Of course my stress, fatigue, and frustration are not their little responsibilities! Goodness No! What have I been thinking?
What I have been thinking is this: It is my fault that Jules colors on the wall, throws fits, whines, and sometimes behaves like a little brat. It is my fault that Amelia is struggling in school, that she experiences big emotions and doesn't know what to do with them, so she just melts down into a big soggy mess, and that her developmental leaps are now so very, very challenging for her.
I have been thinking that it is their fault that I am so tired, so worn down, so without my own space and life, so frustrated, etc.
Slow down the horse, Miz Anna.
As a parent, I believe that it is my responsibility to make my kids into what they should be. I never think about it that way, but my behavior clearly shows that I do. This translates into me struggling to keep all the rafts afloat, which is doing nothing but making waves that make everyone sea sick.
What I now choose to not only base my parenting style on, but my core belief about parenting is this: My children are capable of regulating their own behavior, sorting out their difficult growing pains, taking responsibility for themselves, their things, their feelings, and their actions. As Mother, I have earned the role of Resource.
A stock or supply of money, materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organization in order to function...
Provide (a person or organization) with materials, money, staff, and other assets necessary for effective operation.
My kids are little. 2 and 5. They aren't yet ready to go it alone, and for this, I'm just...full heart. As Mama Resource: I am fully stocked and supplied with the things they need, little and big. Mama's got band aids for scraped knees and broken hearts. Mama's got a pantry full of good food and the knowledge and experience required to mix and blend flavors that satisfy little hearts and tummies, too. Mama is stocked with ideas for how to get from here to there, and how to move most gently through the world.
The thing is, is that as Mother, I don't always need to expect that they will come to me, and I don't always have to expect myself to go to them. I don't have to fix it all. I don't have to do it all. They've got their own paths to walk, and if I try to take responsibility for them, it's like barging onto their path and saying, "You don't have this, you need help." That is not the message I want to send to my daughters. Embodying Mama Resource means saying, "You've got this, and I'm right over here if you need me. Don't worry about falling, because I'm a certified soul physician. I can help you, and I will not stand in your way."
Parenthood is about the Parent. It's about being a good and effective Resource.
Childhood is about the child. It's about growing from seed to seedling.
Each is valid. Each is demanding and rewarding. Each has it's place.
It's okay to separate the two. It's okay for me to leave their futures to them. I will not always get to mother them in this way. I will not always have to pour so much energy into Mama Resource's pantry. Right now I do.
I own my fatigue, my frustration, my need for autonomy. I am first and foremost, responsible for myself.
I am a wonderful, complete, capable Resource for my children.