Could there be one ‘simple’ secret to mastering Motherhood? On starting life as a Mother, I believed love would get me through, if I loved her enough, if I gave her everything I had, it would all be okay. So thats what I did. And she still cried morning, noon and night, I felt completely burnt out with exhaustion, and it didn’t feel best for anyone. I often heard the phrase “whats best for mum is best for baby” banded around, and it used to piss me off no end. What was best for me was checking in for two weeks in some form of spa resort, half a bottle of champagne, a ninety minute massage and solid nights sleep. My feed every hour/bottle rejecting/don’t put me down baby certainly wouldn’t have agreed. So what’s the secret, what is best for my baby? What’s the key? It turns out, my theory about unconditional love wasn’t wrong, it just meant extending it in another direction.
After twenty five months, so many tears (hers and mine) it’s a miracle we aren’t chronically dehydrated, and more lost hours sleeping than i can bare to think about, I think I’ve found it. I have found the secret to mastering Motherhood (no it’s not Gin unfortunately).
The good news is; it is achievable for everyone, it doesn’t require specific expensive training, equipment, or product purchases. Some of you may even have it without even being aware.
The bad news….it may require changing the habits of a life time, facing your demons, and turning the way you think about it on it’s head, and you can’t buy it on Amazon (not even Amazon Prime!).
The secret is: Self Compassion
Self compassion means telling yourself you are enough, right now, in this moment, just as you are.
It is stopping striving to be the perfect parent, because that does not exist. It is accepting you are doing all you can in this moment.
It is forgiving yourself for mistakes, you are new at this, you’re learning on the job with minimal training, you are tired, and you are frustrated, and you are human, and that’s okay.
It’s removing “selfish” from your vocabulary, self care to enable you to be strong and be the best Mother you can be is sensible not selfish.
It’s stopping the guilt that you should be doing it all.
It’s accepting that going to work provides a livelihood for your household, and hopefully give you enjoyment and a sense of pride.
It’s acceptance that staying at home full time feels like the right choice right now, and you are not wasting your education or sponging of your partner, you’re doing your best.
It’s stopping the hard self talk, because if you’re sharp with yourself, you’re going to be sharp with those around you, and chances are, those around you a lot of the time are the little people you care for the most.
And self compassion benefits us all, when you start being kind to yourself, you stop feeling the need to judge others. People naturally judge others in areas they feel they themselves are lacking. Judgement is born from the notion that “at least someone is screwing this up more than me”. Once you embrace self compassion, you automatically extend that compassion to others. Feeling judged is surely one of the toughest parts of parenthood, so how amazing would it be to get rid of it just by being kinder to ourselves.
Of all the things we can teach our Children, self compassion is possibly the most important, because when you are kind to yourself, that extends to the world around you. And goodness know this world needs compassion now more than ever.
Children are incredible mimics, we all know that. but they often don’t do what we tell them (I probably don’t need to till you that either”), or think what we tell them to think. They mimic, so they behave how we behave, they repeat what we say about ourselves. You can tell your daughter she is beautiful, strong, and smart 100 x a day, but if she hears you refer to yourself as stupid, if she seems you grimace in the mirror, or berate yourself for making a an error-she’s going to mimic that.
Now I said I have discovered the secret, I didn’t say I had mastered it, it’s very much a work in progress. As I said, it’s might not be an instant process, it may take a lot of energy, but surely it’s worth it? If it benefits your children, and those around you. And you know what? Self compassion feels pretty good.
And if you’re reading this thinking-what a load of rubbish, what a cop out, sounds like laziness to me. I need to do more not less, I need to try harder not let go, I should be tougher on myself, be better. Perhaps you need self compassion most of all.