My goals as a parent are to build strong relationships with my children by nurturing them with love, respect and guidance. To set boundaries, but without too much interference. I want to be close and trusted enough that they feel comfortable coming to me with their problems and will want to spend time with me when they’re older.
In hindsight, the first three years of Judah’s life didn’t seem too challenging in the way of parenting. I read parenting books rooted in a positive and gentle approach, practiced mindfulness and had community among friends and fellow birth workers. The toddler years were a breeze! So when Benjamin was born, I was blindsided. Aside from fluctuating hormones and lack of sleep, I struggled with the transition from one to two kids. I found myself having to shift my energy to two children, each at different stages, with different needs. Judah was very loving to Benjamin, but he was also acclimating to his new role as an older brother.
On the outside, I seemed perfectly put together, but felt overwhelmed. Putting philosophy into practice became increasingly difficult. I had always considered myself a strong person who was able to multi-task and persevere through many of life’s challenges, but this really tested my mettle.
During these early years of motherhood I’ve learned that society expects perfection but it doesn’t exist – no matter how much we want to portray ourselves as perfect parents. I read an article by Starr Meneely that talks about mothering in “real life.” She writes, “Maybe it has become too easy to paint the version of ourselves that we want to be, and then publish it on the Internet. We are constantly surrounded by images of such perfect parenting that it is easy to feel like we are failing in uniquely individual ways. The truths of our mothering journeys are often difficult to find; hidden away in the fine balance between the beautiful things we photograph and our lives behind the lens.”
The truth is, we are human and we are perfectly imperfect. What matters is how we make changes as we learn and grow. I’m learning to be more gentle with myself. If I can do this, my children will learn how to do the same.