Mothering is hard but mothering with emotional baggage is even harder.
There was a time in my life where I wouldn’t allow myself to be vulnerable with my son. My own mother passed when I was 22 so I was winging it, piecing together parenting by own life experiences.
I was a disciplinarian and had the notion that “He knows I love him. I’m raising a boy, I don’t need to be soft.”
For some reason I was afraid of being “seen” by a baby. I’m not proud of that. The mother instinct kicked in as far as his needs but beyond that, everything else felt contrived. I was trying to prove something to myself and others that I knew what I was doing and had it all figured out.
When I think back, I believe this was the first time I let anyone see me–like genuinely laughing and being present. It took some time and maturing. When I had him I was 26, so who I was as a woman was far from my understanding. I was also a new wife so life was coming at me fast.
It’s so funny that everyone with an opinion freely tells you how to take care of your baby, but no one mentions how to relate to them. How to be free with them. How to let yourself laugh and be human with them.
I was under the impression that if I was seen as a human being, then I would lose all kinds of respect and authority. This was something I wasn’t willing to give up as a young mother.
I’m currently 33 and six months postpartum with my second child. To think that I hid from my son seems ridiculous and hurtful. How could I hide from this gift of a child? My child who’s not a threat to me.
Mothers: let your children see you. Be transparent and apologize when you’re wrong. Be honest and say, “Mommy’s tired today and going crazy and that has nothing to do with you. You’re amazing and I love you.”
Kids need to see you be real. Otherwise, how will they know how to deal with their own feelings? No one is going to teach them how to be human but you. It starts at home, and whoever they’re learning to be, works its way outwards from the home.
Also, if we’re vulnerable with our kids, we lower the expectations of the kind of mother we’re supposed to be. All you can do is your best. Kids love us unconditionally, bless their hearts. It’s a crazy thing because there are days when I feel I don’t deserve it, but they still do.
Just remember you are everything to them, so the least you can do is give them someone to love who is authentic, imperfect, judgmental, sometimes selfish, and a work in progress.
If you liked this piece, be sure to check out Postpartum: An Experience