What’s surprised me most about parenting is that I’ve discovered more about my own downfalls and the parts of myself I’d like to improve. Becoming a mom has been a blessing as I get to love, guide and support two young human beings, yes. But for me the bigger blessing has been this new chapter of self growth, internal reflection and dedication to presence.
For the couple years after my son was born I placed a self-inflicted burden on my shoulders. Negative internal dialogue only added to the lack of confidence in my role as women, mother and wife. I felt this pressure to care for everyone, clean, cook, be the working mom, the PTO mom, stay in touch with friends and family, make love to my husband everyday, attend every birthday party and after school activity, get back to my pre baby weight minus a few pounds etc. I pressured myself to do it all because if I didn’t it meant I wasn’t a good mom or wife.
Until one day I broke. On this day I let myself get so angry and frustrated by my son's fight to get into his car seat. We were already late to swim practice and it was a makeup class so if we missed it we’d lost it. I let the perfectionist in me take over and in that blip of a moment I yelled at him. Those big blue eyes looked at me in a way I’d never seen before. He didn’t like my behavior just as much as I didn’t like his. As silly as it might seem I felt like a complete failure in that moment. I did something I swore to myself I’d never do. A small but significant experience I’m thankful to have had.
I began to cry, picked him up and sat in the passenger seat. I told him I was sorry for being angry and yelling. That it wasn’t a nice thing for mommy to do. All the things I’d tell him if he yelled at someone. He stopped crying, asked me why I was sad and gave me a big hug. Nothing else mattered in that moment. No swim class or schedule. It was just the two of us, bonding in a moment of personal growth and understanding.
On the way home as my son listened to Blippi, I reflected on my reaction. Why was I so upset over being late for a swim lesson? Was it really that big of a deal? I knew something deeper inside me was out of alignment. My heart and soul where trying to tell me something. Then I asked myself the ultimate question “Is this really the version of yourself you want your kids to see everyday?”
I literally responded out load “Hell no” and instantly I felt calm, relaxed, lit up! I had finally busted through that mental wall I had been trying to climb for so long.
I had spent so much energy and time focusing on what was coming next, reacting without thought, blaming everyone and everything else when something didn’t work out and resisting the truth I knew deep down yet. I control my actions and reactions. I cannot raise physically, emotionally and mentally healthy children when I myself was not there or at least positively conscience of my journey to get there.
Since then I’ve been on a journey of deep focus. I get one shot at this life and I want to be the best me. The best me defined by me, not anyone else. This journey is still new and I’m still learning to navigate it but below are some of the practices I’ve implemented in my life to keep me going:
1. Say No!
If it doesn’t light me up inside or doesn’t align with where I am or want to be in life then I don’t need to do it. This doesn’t mean it will never fit into your life but ask yourself “will this serve my life right now?” Bye bye guilt and FOMO!
2. Stop and Reflect!
I have it so good! I don’t mean by comparison because that’s not really fair. Every person is different and leading different lifestyles. I have it good because I look at where I am at mentally, emotionally, spiritually, professionally, and physically and I feel content. This doesn’t mean I’m done growing in these areas because growth is what life is all about but reflecting on how far I’ve some keeps me grounded and motivated.
3. Audit Your Social Channels! Once a week or so I go through my social media accounts and reflect on who and what are adding value to my life. If a person or business I follow is no longer doing so I un-follow them. This might sound harsh but I know and can admit that at times what I see on social media can bring up my perfectionist tendencies. I don’t want to focus on what he or she is doing and why am I not doing it…my focus is on my path and how I want to define it.
4. Check Yourself! I have been analyzing my days. Where can I be more efficient, in what areas can I multitask and what things can be moved to the honey to do list? I quickly began to find extra time to fit in those things I had told myself for years I didn’t have time for.
5. Be Open With Your Kids! This is a hard one. I believe we all struggle at some point with admitting our faults or wrong doings but when we do it allows us to grow. Let your kids know when you had a rough day, when something you faced was hard. Kids go through so many emotions and they don’t always know how to deal with them. If they understand you struggle at times to, then they will begin to appreciate you and what you do for them more. This will also open up a window of communication, allowing them to feel comfortable sharing their struggles with you.
6. Be Flexible With Expectations! I let go of my need to control. Honestly, I have to work at this everyday. It’s ok to hope things go a certain way but if you’re dead set on a certain outcome, the disappointment is greater when it doesn’t come. Enjoy the ride. It won’t always be easy or pretty but from my recent experience, it’s so worth it!