How have you defined yourself as a mother? Is something else possible that would allow you to be even greater than you ever thought possible?
Another Mother’s Day has just passed. During the day, I came across this Face Book post, “A mother is selfless and sacrifices her life for her children.” I can identify with a time in my life that I thought that was true, raising my 3 sons and 2 step-children. My own mother was an example of this. However, today I find this quote and many others that try to define motherhood (and fatherhood for that matter too) to be very unsettling. In all fairness, what this quote may be referring to, is that a mother is willing to put her life aside for a moment so that she can offer time and energy to her children. However, this is not how it is always received. A moment is quite different than living this 24/7. And can have quite devastating effects.
Several ideas come up with this that many parents may find beneficial if they too wonder about similar quotes and definitions.
How have you defined yourself as a mother (parent)? Is something else possible that would allow you to be even greater than you ever thought possible?
And then there was my own choice to be a mom. I became a mother at the age of 17 and believed this would be my life and would fulfill me. Not long after my son was born, I found that being a mother wasn’t quite the fantasy I had made it out to be. However, I had decided that being a mom was the most important role in my life and so I did all I could to fit into being selfless and sacrificing my life for my son, and then later my other children. What I found myself doing, was making everything I chose about being right or wrong, which meant I had to make others right or wrong in their choices. This did not make for good marriages. It also did not allow me to explore who I truly wanted to be and how I could live a life that enriched me. While I loved my kids, there came a time when it wasn’t enough. I wanted more, but I didn't know how I could and still be a mom.
I was missing out on me. I was so focused on doing for them, making their lives happy, normal with the need to be right and self-less, that I truly lost me. In some ways, I am not even sure I ever had me. I kept trying to live my life in this altruistic way that became more destructive the longer it went on.
I passed onto my children this belief that we can live our lives for others, making them happy, and doing all we can to make sure they have what they need in life.
What about allowing them to choose what they would like?
What about allowing them to find the source of their own happiness, rather than having to look to others for happiness and acceptance?
What about empowering them to create the means to discover what they desire in life and how they can achieve that on their own?
It was through the suicide death of my middle son that I came to see the light and change my ways of being a mom. Imagine living your life as the selfless mom who gives her life for her children and then having one of your children take their own life. FAILURE was the message I received. I had failed. I had not saved his life. And as it turned out, he died for me so I could find my life. See, I taught him well through my example. This was not the way it was supposed to turn out. After all, I did all the right things- or so I falsely believed. This is not meant to place blame on anyone, myself or the lives of others. It is meant to bring more awareness to the role we have as parents. I no longer take on the guilt of my son’s death. I do receive the gift that he has given me to bring change to my life as well as to others.
I am grateful this experience took me on a new journey- the journey of Being me. And this is the journey that I believe our children would like for us to be on, just as we allow them to be on their journey. I have found that I have much more to contribute to others if I am not self-less, but rather if I value myself, my gifts, my desires, and all that I BE. I don't have to have it all right and neither do our kids. We learn along the way what works and what doesn't. We get to make choices and then have the freedom to make new choices. In this way, I nurture and care for me, and as a result, I can nurture and care for others even more so than I ever thought possible. If I make living my life a value, a joy, an adventure that I look forward to every day, I show my kids that this too is possible for them in whatever way they want to create it. At the time that my son took his life, I was not happy, I did not value my life, I was just getting by and fooling myself that I had a good life. He saw through all of that and even took on my misery as his own. Not the legacy we as parents desire to give our kids.
And lastly, as I work with parents, I find many parents who are unhappy being a parent. It is with great difficulty that they admit this. They don’t find joy in making themselves self-less or sacrificing for their kids. They want to experience life fully and all too often they too have decided that being a parent doesn’t allow for this. They think they must give up everything to have their kids. It is a true joy to see these parents move into the choice to BE who they BE and to raise their kids from Being, it is a great gift that empowers their kids to be who they be. It is much easier for them to offer themselves to their kids from this wholeness, rather than from selflessness.
As one parent stated recently, “We parents have it all backwards!” What would it take for us to have it all “frontwards” allowing us to move forward with more ease and joy as we share life with these amazing beings we call children?
My challenge to you, mothers and fathers, is to be aware of altruistic quotes, sayings and definitions about what it means be a parent. What if you aren’t definable and can be the parent that honors you and your child? What if you didn’t have to compare yourself to any other parent, you can be who you BE?
I am curious- What definitions do you find mothers and fathers often fall victim to? Share below and let’s see if we can’t begin to bust through those for more empowered parenting.