Without a doubt, mothers and others who provide nurturing care to those in need deserve tender loving care and a great dose of gentleness – applied to themselves.
I don’t know any mother who has not tortured herself for being the mother she is, and I was no exception.
You know the litany of yardsticks; you must provide the best and most balanced food, follow the latest precepts of good parenting, drive the kids to everything, be able to afford to send them to everything, help them with their homework, avoid being angry and patiently wait to give yourself space when they get older, grow up, leave home.
You’ll have your own lists of “musts”.
But you also know that no matter what you do, the books, your in-law, the neighbours, your friends, even strangers — they all point to some opinion other than yours and to the belief that you can’t avoid damaging them anyway. Guilt looms large.
And if you should also work, have a career, be a business owner and mompreneur, now you are in a deeper no-win guilt-producing category.
It’s exhausting living up to moving targets and sidestepping explosives in the minefield of parenting. Too often we are brutal with ourselves.
This is no way to live.
Perhaps you are among the ones who don’t give themselves a hard time or you’ve learned to lighten up. Then you are the exception and can help your sisters find that peace.
For the rest of us, here are 5 transformational perspectives to consider.
1. You are human
Yes, you. Human means that you can’t be perfect, and you can do your best at every moment. You will never be perfect, because that’s not a human attribute (sorry if you’re shocked, if it’s your first time considering it or if it triggers resistance).
However, you can do so much when you do your best being who you are. Don Miguel Ruiz has wonderful principles to live by in his book, The Four Agreements, that will create spaciousness and freedom in your life.
2. Love is the only option that makes life worth showing up for
Your kids, your partner, your friends — love is what they care about. If you don’t enjoy cooking, housekeeping or any of the other ways in which you believe mothers have to perform and you have loads of care and empathy, that’s what wins the day.
It means that as you love yourself, you love them.
As you find compassion for your humanness, you will teach it to them. Isn’t that what we ultimately want for our children, that they be loving human beings?
You can give them sports lessons, but without learning tender love, you’ll have thrown your money away.
3. How you talk to yourself matters
If you have an inner critical judge nagging at you, you can befriend it and challenge what it is telling you.
Those inner voices are not you. They are what we have all internalized from the world around us, and your job is to differentiate who you are and what you believe from this autopilot naysayer. Listening to those voices is a habit that you have practiced for years that needs unlearning.
If those voices trigger fear or make you feel that you don’t add up or are not enough, challenge them.
You’ll notice that you can poke holes in those voices by being curious, and responding to the fear-mongering voices with compassion.
Use the free material called The Work on Byron Katie’s site and go through her questions. They’ll provide freedom.
Who would you be without those thoughts?
Elizabeth Gilbert in her latest and deeply inspiring book Big Magic, calls fear boring. She’ll listen, she’ll be friendly with it, but it doesn’t get to drive her car. In fact, fear never gets to make any decisions. That’s for Creativity and for her to do exclusively.
4. Tap into your Inner Wise Woman
Behind the noise is also your Wise One. The wise one speaks quietly, especially if she hasn’t been given a lot of airspace.
If you invite her, she may dialogue with you in your journal even for a 5-minute sequence. Tell her how you are feeling, ask her a question and let her answer in another colour pen. You don’t even have to ask. If you wait, you’ll hear or know.
Or go for a walk, touch the tree bark, go to your favourite natural spot. Listen for it, sense it in your body, however the answers come.
If you think you are making it up, here is a secret. It’s all made up. But only you can make up what you make up, so know that it is yours and real for you.
5. Practice gentleness
To become accepting, tolerant, able to let go of control, trusting in the goodness of this life — each is a practiced habit.
The spell of self-torture through harsh judgment must be broken.
You can replace it by committing to praising your own goodness, by paying attention to the small things you do well every day, by doing what you love, by how you show up on any day.
You can create a new, supportive, loving inner world that will radiate out to others. The quality of your days will be transformed.
You are indeed already the right mother for those who came to be with you.
You are a precious creation, worthy of tender care.
It’s not enough to read and be touched. How I wish it were so. You should see the rows of books on my shelves.
Action is everything. Every small action builds an inner muscle of strength. As career mothers, we can learn to find ourselves right.
What’s the one small action that will make the biggest difference to how you feel about yourself? What can you begin today?
In the comments below, I invite you to let me know.
Latest posts by Miriam Linderman (see all)
- 5 Amazingly Simple Ways to Let Go of Mompreneur Guilt - October 12, 2015