Mother’s Day, unlike some holidays, can provide a chance to reflect and take deep personal stock.
I am a mother of two grown sons and the grandmother of three baby girls. I have daughters-in-law who are thick in the midst of raising babies. I coach women in their thirties with children of varying ages and others who want nothing more than to be mothers as their biological clock ticks faster and louder.
As I take stock about motherhood, I have much to think about. My mother is alive at 90 years young and I am so grateful to have her. I grew up wanting to be like my mother and I raised my sons trying to emulate her. It wasn’t until years later that I felt the call to be different as I experienced parenting ways that worked for her but didn’t always work for me. Nonetheless, the underlying truth is that she and I both, in our own parenting styles, had the best intentions.
The women I coach shoulder many challenges. Women are, for starters, forever questioning themselves and their abilities. Our shadows expand to full bloom, however, when we navigate motherhood. We want the best for our children and to do the best job we can. Like I was in my early mothering days, many woman want to be like their mothers and as many strive for the opposite or at least many degrees removed. Throw into the mix the predominant childrearing philosophies of the day, and it all gets quite complicated.
I remember every stage and worry about parenting. I remember the victories and the losses, the ebbs and flows and joys and the grief. I remember the stresses of dealing with sick children and the habit I had to de-prioritize myself in the family hierarchy. I watch my children raise their children and it all comes back.
We all have heard the tongue-in-cheek comment that newborns should come with an instruction manual, which ironically is part of the problem. Sometimes there seems as many books and theories about how to raise children as there are children. My life coaching strives to help women empower themselves by seeing and embracing what they do right instead of repeated self-focus on what they do wrong. Parents are inclined to spend precious little time looking at what’s right as they tend to concentrate on what isn’t working; whether it is about them or their children. Looking at what is right makes you feel good, strong and worthy. It is a redirection that deserves constant repetition because it is easy to backtrack into disempowered mindsets.
Parents face multiple choices that affect both them and their children. The key is deciding what kind of a parent to be and being vigilant in making choices consistent with that formulation. I coach my “mother-clients” that feeling good about themselves is essential to becoming good parents. Motherhood is as much about the mother as it is about the kids. Fill your own cup if you want to parent successfully.
Happiness is an inside job, and in the maddening rush of raising children, it is easy to relegate one’s own happiness and self-care to the back burner. Mothers need to learn self-care and self-love and to feel empowered about who they are and how they are raising their children, and not only on Mother’s Day. Appreciating yourself is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children; so be generous with yourself.
Like all of us, children are meaning making machines, but because of their limited emotional resources, they lack the capacity to process significant emotional events like we do. That often causes them to internalize skewed interpretations about their parents, not merely based on what parents say but how they look, interact and act. Parents are well-served to clean house from inside out. Living on auto pilot is not the way to parent. Every choice matters, a principle effective parents embrace and teach to their children. We each had fantasies about what kind of parent we would be and how parenting and family building would feel. The challenge is letting go of the fantasy. From there, we can make choices that help us build the relationships we want with our children.
The best tool I can share? Stop and notice even the smallest moments. Don’t parent on auto pilot. Find meaning in every choice. Take a quick snap shot a few times every day so that seemingly mundane moments become memorable and impactful. We lose many beautiful moments in the feverish pace of parenting. I taught my sons to make a picture frame out of their hands and take a snap shot of even their routine experiences. I look forward to doing the same with my grandchildren. It is an easy and effective way to signify the moment and create a rewarding and enduring visual.
As a mother, I take my children’s ups and downs to heart. I watch them navigate their complicated lives and put my faith in to the Universe that everything is as it should be and the Universe has their back. On this holiday of honoring mothers, I marvel and recognize that the job is never done. I still pray I am mothering them the best way I can and I still am happiest when they are happy.
I am so grateful I raised my boys the best way I knew how. Every sleepless night was worth the fruits I am reaping. Did I do everything right? Of course not; ask my sons! For me, it was and is the best job I have had, and on this day, I can sit back and love myself for the job I did for my sons, their wives and my three beautiful granddaughters.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mothers in the World and especially to you Mom for being the world to me.
Peace and love,
If you or anyone you know would like to be coached through: Great Parents Empower Coaching; please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org