Happy Un-Mother's Day
I'm so blessed to have had the chance to spend two weeks with two of my moms- my birth mom and my aunt who was my mom for several years while my mom was away. Our trip felt like a collective introspection on what it meant to be a mom. We were all moms in different times, different scenarios, to different types of kids with different support systems. But regardless of whether we became a mother as a teenager or in our 40s, whether we have significant financial resources or we're struggling, whether there's a father in the picture or not, whether our kids have special needs or not, it's pretty clear that being a "mom" is universal. We all want the same things for our kids and struggle with similar insecurities- mostly those that revolve around "are we good enough/doing enough?"
During a late night conversation I poured my heart out to my aunt and shared with her what I thought was my biggest mistake as a mom. And it was in that moment of sharing my vulnerability that it clicked. We were chosen to be our kids' parents for a specific reason- because all our innate characteristics, both theirs and ours, will foster each other's growth. We grow from our kids as much as they grow from us. So all of our quirks, what we judge to be our flaws, our shortcomings, and all of those moments we keep replaying in our heads when we thought we majorly fucked up all work together to encourage each other to blossom- if we allow it. But if we struggle to fit ourselves into the mold of "a good mom" and don't listen to what truly feels right in the moment, both for us and our kids, we not only stunt our kids' growth, we're stifling our own as well.
The secret to being a good mom doesn't lie in being "a good mom". We struggle and swim in circles in the most anxiety when we're trying to be "a good mom", catering to our child's every single need, planning out every second of their lives, charting out their path as well as their destination, and layering them with every protection against all of the fears we can think of until they can't move. Our kids struggle when we're in that role too. My experience with my son is a testament to that.
What I've found to be the most liberating thing to be as a mom is ourselves and to let our kids be themselves. During a sweaty sauna session with my mom, she shared that she's just now learning that too- now that her kids are well into their 30s with kids of their own. I'd like to think that I played a role in her self-discovery BECAUSE of who I am and all the stumbling I've had to go through(both as the teenage daughter she had to painfully let go of when I got knocked up and as a mother who she watched struggle with her own mistakes to find her own way) just as much as who she was as a person, including the things she might've felt guilty about doing, were the same things that pushed me to find myself. I feel that each of us being free to do our own inner work and sharing our vulnerabilities and frustrations with each other all these years and witnessing each other's journey helped each of us find our own way in our own time. At the end of the day, we all want our kids to be empowered self-expressed individuals who live a fulfilled life- the same things we want for ourselves.
In the moments when I feel lost and truly don't know what to do as a parent, I ask myself, "What would I truly need if I were my child in this situation?" A lot of times the answer becomes as simple as "a hug", "someone to listen", "to be left alone", "to be understood" and the unnecessary stress and anxiety of doing the work to provide the answer for someone else falls away as I allow them the opportunity to discover their own power to figure things out for themselves. I've found that empathy has been my saving grace, not only as a mom, but in any other role that I step into as well. The same works for any other situation with any other person, whether you're a parent or not. I guess that's why it's called the Golden Rule.