drop the guIlt
How about a lot less mother guilt with a side of self-care?
As a parent, the ingrained expectations you place on yourself to put the needs of your child first – giving them the perfect start to ‘living their best life’ – at the expense of your own happiness and wellness, are a constant struggle. Expectations from yourself, your partner, your in-laws or even Instagram all contribute to a mother-load of guilt; am I good enough? Am I doing enough for them? If we stop and ask our kids what they want from their Mum – what would they say? The pressures we put on ourselves to be perfect, to meet unrealistic standards while juggling family life, careers and relationships, is unsustainable. Mothers need to look after themselves – because they’re the ones who look after everyone else. We need to release mother guilt, embrace acceptance and feel self-empowered. Your child wants you to be your perfectly imperfectly human self, not pretending to be anyone or anything but you. My 4-year-old daughter one day asked ‘why do kids have mums?’ I was surprised at her question and as I began to explain the many reasons kids have mums and the mothering role in general. I stopped myself and asked her ‘why she thought kids have mums?’ Her response was simple and heart-felt – ‘To love them’.” My lesson that day has carried forward – get your mind out of all the stuff that needs doing and simply come back to human connection. Kids have mums to love them. Full stop.
The liberation of letting go of perfection and accepting imperfection as perfection needs to be celebrated. The strong correlation between a child’s health and happiness and their mother’s health and happiness is real.
In my first two years and seven months of motherhood, I had three children. Yes, they were all planned! Some people called me ‘crazy’, others called me ‘amazing’, others, when in public would look at me with eyes of sympathy as I pushed three children on a stroller (two seated, one on a glider board, and often lots of grocery bags pushed into the stroller’s underneath storage!). I called it ‘my normal’. Although it had its challenges, it certainly had its rewards.
In my first two years and seven months of motherhood, I had three children. Yes, they were all planned!
The early years of motherhood were filled with much fascination, and joy, alongside the undercurrents of mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical fatigue, trying to be a ‘good enough’ mother, always striving to achieve ‘perfection’ status (whatever that is?!). Together with this ambition, was the desire to be a ‘good’ wife, daughter, sister, friend, and leader, running a Speech Pathology company, that served, and continues to serve, the needs of numerous families, health and educational professionals and organisations. I used to be that mum, wanting to get mothering ‘right’. Thankfully after much soul searching, I experienced the liberation of letting go of ‘perfection’ and accepting imperfection as perfect. I more fully embraced ‘my normal’, and celebrated it, as I came to realise and appreciate my own personal growth on the evolutionary motherhood path. It also became hugely exciting to accept that I was sharing my new space of growth with the children in my life, just as they were sharing and discovering their personal growth journeys with me. This opened the doors to more gratitude, more self-compassion, and self-kindness. Ingredients that led to a healthier style of self-love and an amazingly deep and enriching way to experience daily life.
The strong correlation between a child’s health and happiness and their mother’s health and happiness is real. This applies both ways. I have given and received many, much needed warm, and reassuring embraces in the realm of motherhood, for which I am forever grateful. I needed to write my book, as a gift, to share an unending warm embrace, to honour all mothers, to celebrate and support all mothers, and remind mums that, your best is good enough. You matter too. You have got this. The 21 ways to thrive with self-care and acceptance, shared in my book, are the culmination of decades, learning, listening, teaching, observing, coaching and mentoring mothers throughout my professional life, combined with my own unique personal motherhood experience.
Throughout life, I have observed, questioned, and wondered about many things. There are some things that I do continue to wonder about.
Let me share, one of those things that I still to this day observe time and time again, and it causes me to ask myself the same question, time and time again… Often, while driving – a bird will be standing in the middle of the road. As I inch closer in my car, it does not seem to move. I continue to inch closer, the bird walks a little faster toward the side of the road. As my car gets ridiculously close, the bird needs to, and does, scurry across the road with urgent hurriedness to save itself. Every time this has happened, it has made me wonder… Why does it not use its gift of wings, to fly? Flourish for Mums. May it be your hand holding companion, sharing in your journey of nurture, as you grow, flourish, and spread your graceful wings and fly. I BELIEVE IN YOU.
By Sonia Bestulic, author of Flourish for Mums – 21 Ways to Thrive with Self-Care and Acceptance (Big Sky Publishing $19.99).