The beginning of my journey as a mama was rough- a fussy baby who never slept, a husband who was seemingly always at work or school, upside down finances, a complete lack of personal space/boundaries… It seemed like the list of things against me was long and growing.
I felt so completely alone and lost in this totally exhilarating and exciting yet overwhelming role. The few friends I had were either still single or had ridiculously easy babies, while I had the fussy, crying kind. There’s nothing that makes a new mama feel like they are failing miserably quite like a baby who she simply cannot please.
It was hard. Probably the most difficult time in my life, and not just because of the task and how I perceived myself to be failing. It was also super hard because amidst all of this I had completely lost my sense of self. I was tired, with no time to take care of myself mentally or physically- not enough sleep, my marriage was struggling, I had no time with friends, and no sense of purpose (which for me is a REALLY big deal!).
In the midst of this fog, I became painfully aware that I didn’t like the person I had become. I was highly stressed- and that meant that I snapped easily, lost all connection to my creativity (and thus had lost a lot of my sense of identity), had no energy for social endeavors, and overall had lost any spark of the person I aspired to be and once felt relatively close to.
Still, I didn’t know how to find my road out. I felt so locked into my situation. As the next few years unravelled, though, everything began to fall into place. I took a huge leap of faith and spent our entire tax return to go to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. (Thanks to my husband who so lovingly and supportively let me do so!) I dove full force into my interests and passions, devouring the nutritional knowledge and even moreso the personal growth materials.
I started reading Louise Hay, The Alchemist, listening to Ted Talks like a fiend, and learning how to love myself again. The more I dove into my passions and let myself rediscover who I was, the more at peace I was with everything. For the time being, nothing changed in my circumstances- we were still strapped for cash, I still had super challenging kids (though I had two of them by this time, including fussy baby number 2), and yet my life had gotten a whole lot more beautiful.
I enjoyed my time with my kids more, even in the midst of all their fussiness and challenge. I started to rebuild my relationship with my husband. And most of all, I started to love and take care of myself.
While this has been a process- allowing myself to take the time and space to pursue my passions, take care of my body, ask for help, reconnect with friends as well as meet amazing new soul sisters- it has made all the difference in my parenting.
I’m not sure I had put everything together, though, until I came across this amazing quote by Magda Gerber (who is brilliant, by the way).
‘Lucky is the child who grows up with parents who basically accept and love themselves, and therefore can accept and love their child, who reminds them so often of their own selves.’
Everything about this quote sings to me.
It is so true that we are most critical toward reflections of our own tendencies that we dislike the most. I truly believe that as we love and embrace ourselves in our entirety, including our ‘difficult parts’, the more fully we can love and embrace our children. I have experienced it.
It struck me that most perceived ‘negative’ child attributes (not blindly following directions at the drop of a dime, being strong willed, picky, inflexible) had very positive adult equivalents (independent thinker, committed, discerning, having high standards). The things I wanted most for my children were already present in their little personalities, and the best way to nurture them into loving, well-adjusted adults was to start with myself.
To be a great example.
And even more than that to take the time to love myself so that as I interact with them, I am doing so with love and not resentment stemming from discontentment with my own perceived shortcomings.
It starts with you.
What have you done to show yourself some love today? How can you take todays judgements and transform them into curiosity, allowing more space for love and growth? And how would your kids benefit if you loved yourself more?
You’re beautiful. You’re complete. And you’re worth the effort.
I’d love to hear your thoughts below! Please share this article if you know somebody who needs this loving reminder!