Weathering the Parenting Storms
Weathering the Parenting Storms
Becoming a parent was the most joyful moment of my life. It's hard to put into words, the love, awe, joy, happiness that I felt in the moments after giving birth. I was also filled with anxiety, trepidation, worry and a kind of sadness that I couldn't explain then, and still find difficult to understand nearly 11 years later.
Being a parent is filled in equal measure with wonder, love, admiration, joy and fear, anger, and slight despondency at times.
It's the hardest job I've ever done. It changes daily. Just when I feel I am getting a handle on things and have some understanding, and know what im doing, things change, kids change, and I'm back to square one, wondering what I need to do and how to do it.
When I'm away from the children I think about them most of the time and can't wait to see them, and when I'm with them I often feel suffocated and in need of space.
I constantly think about them, their growth, their nutrition, their academic work, their moral compasses, their friendships, their activities, their future, their hair, their clothes, their play, their sleep or lack of, their fights, their dreams, their challenges and difficulties, every little detail of their lives becomes, and is, a detail in my life.
I aspire to handing down less damage to my kids, then was handed to me by my parents. Not because my parents were bad parents, quite the contrary, they were great. But they didn't always give me what I needed. They didn't see me as an individual and they didn't always understand me. I know that really they didn't see or understand themselves properly, and they parented me the best they could.
But I am trying to understand my children in a way that I was never understood. I am trying to parent consciously and gently. I am reflecting constantly on myself, my needs, my responses, and trying to bring my best self to my parenting. I don't always get it right, and it hurts me to see how my children hurt at times, because of my words and actions.
Whereas my parents never knew when I felt hurt by them, they never understood why I lashed out in anger and frustration at not having a voice, my kids tell me exactly how they are feeling and what I am doing wrong. Im thankful that they feel safe and secure enough to do this but it's hard to hear.
Last night my youngest told me that when she behaves badly (lashes out) that she feels like I don't love her. I have to admit I got a sharp pain in my heart when she said that, because that's exactly how I used to feel when I was her age. I know how bad she feels. I thought we were doing things differently and it was so hard to hear and understand why she felt like this. We have always only ever talked about behaviour and never equated her worth with her behaviour. We have always aspired to parent and love without condition and yet here she is feeling that my love is conditional on her behaviour. I reassured her that that there is nothing she could do that would make me not love her. I told her I love her, all of her, all of the time. I told her I see her big kind loving heart all the time and that behaviour, is only behaviour. It is an acting out of emotions and feelings. I told her that all emotions are welcome in our house because they are telling us a message. And when she is “behaving badly” its because she is feeling bad and needs to let us know. She snuggled down into bed and appeared to feel better. I kissed her goodnight and told her I loved her, always and forever.
I am sitting here today wondering how it is that she feels this way, when I thought we were doing things so consciously and differently to how our parents did things.
I realise that she is my mirror. A reflection of myself, a reflection of the child I was. But she is not me, and I must always remember that. Her reactions are very similar to what mine were as a child. As an adult it is up to me to consciously and maturely respond to her needs and behaviours and help her figure out what is going on for her. It is also up to me to look inwards for myself, and understand and heal the deep hurts that I have. My parents did not respond to my needs in the way I needed them too. I felt alone and things just worse and worse, culminating in a very troubled time during my teenage years. That's where the big differences lie I realise. I can accompany my child and help her figure out her feelings, needs, and her responses to them. I can help her feel loved, and help her find the love within herself. It's taken my 47 years to find this for me, but it doesn't have to take her that long.
Parenting is hard. Figuring stuff out is hard. But with mature, conscious reflection we can all do it, with compassion for ourselves. Knowing what makes myself tick, will help me understand what makes my kids tick.
Responding rather than reacting will help me meet them, rather then trying to beat them !!
For me it is also important to remember that I am more than a parent. I am me, a mum, a partner, a lover, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a teacher, a student, a passionate creative, spirit. I am many things and I need to remember, to embrace and to nurture all those aspects of me, alongside the parent in me. This is what my children need. This is what I need and want too. A whole Mum. A whole Aoife.
If you need some support with parenting issues please reach out and get it (perhaps
from a mentor like me). None of us has to do this alone.