Reflections on a Decade of Mothering

My daughter turned 10 in September. The past decade has been an amazing adventure and a time of intense growth and challenge. Being a mother has brought me to extremes -- joy & sadness, rage & peace, worry & acceptance, and fear & love. I have learned a ton about myself. Here are a few of my biggest discoveries:

You can't give your kids what you don't have. I got this from Brene Brown and I'm so grateful. Of course you can give them material things, but confidence, empathy, and values are learned. It's nearly impossible to teach your kid to have a good sense of themselves when you walk around feeling unworthy.

Self care is so much more than going to yoga and getting massages. It means caring as much about yourself as your kid. It means valuing your needs as much as anyone else's. It means looking at yourself and feeling love and kindness rather than only seeing your faults. It means accepting yourself as you -- a perfect imperfect human. Self care is what allows you to refuel so than you can be the person you want to be.

Support comes in many forms and is essential to feeling alright. It can sometimes feel easier to power through on your own -- then you never have to reveal your vulnerabilities. And you probably can do it on your own. But having help can simply make life a little easier. 

You will probably say things your parents said to you that you swore you wouldn't. As you're saying it, a part of you will recognize its happening but you might not be able to stop it. It may actually help you understand your parents.

it is both heartbreaking and wonderful to see your kid grow. When they're at a challenging time you might wish for time to speed up. Then you just want it to slow down to savor every moment. Each new age brings delight and frustration. Staying present will allow the savoring as well as the trust that things will change.

if you're partnered you may not always agree but it helps to be on he same team. Disagreements are normal and showing your kids how to resolve conflicts is key.

You won't know what kind of parent you'll be to a 2 year old until your kid is 2 -- and so on for every age. You'll be growing right along with your kid.

There will be things about your kid that have nothing to do with you. They are their own unique beings and that's both scary and a relief. They can be influenced by people and things that you have no control over, but you don't have to be solely responsible for their happiness and success in life. 

When your kid pushes your buttons it's more a reflection of your own internal wounds than their issue. What can drive me crazy about my daughter are the things I see in her that are like things I don't love about myself. When I'm judging her and feeling critical it's because it's a reflection on me and my own fears about who I am. This knowing has helped me stop my judgement of her and to focus on loving those parts of myself and her.

Having 2 kids isn't harder than one, and it isn't easier than 1. Having kids isn't harder than not having them. It's all hard and it's all doable. We do what we can with what we've got. 

You're not alone. 

This learning was inspired by my decade of mothering and of living. Getting older has given me perspective. And I look forward to continuing to learn and grow.