Being a mother is humbling.
It is the process of having to know things even when you don’t really know things. So, you learn by doing and pretend you know what you are doing and figure it out along the way.
You have these little humans who look up to you like you have all the answers, and all you can do is hope you have enough answers to start them on the right path.
You have all these lessons and opinions from society telling you what to do, what not to do, what is appropriate, what is not appropriate. Then you have all the contradictory guidelines and messages from social media, and you have to best figure out how to work in harmony with them to create your life and your child’s life with purpose and joy.
What I am learning, in life and parenting, is that the only constant is change. Some days you feel completely on top of things, and other days you tread water. And then there are the many days you feel like you are drowning. But in every day, there is something magical to remind you it is all worth it.
Parenting makes us better people, but it also ruins us because it humbles our egos into realizing we still have so much learning to do. I am learning how important it is not to fight the process as the worst of us comes out. If we do not humble our egos enough, we get defensive or become a know-it-all. And as parents, it’s important to lead with the notion that we are all learning, and we walk side by side in this life not to be perfect but to make ourselves better, grow, and help each other through life as people, parents, and children.
We often look at our children thinking we have to be the teachers and leaders—we are the ones guiding them. And we are, in many ways, guiding our children in safety, nourishment, and the basic foundations of this world. However, they are also guiding us and teaching us to come back home to love, joy, purpose, imagination, kindness, discovery, and remembering what being human is all about.
The one thing I have found challenging is watching my daughter struggle with many things I still struggle with and wondering how I’m supposed to help her with issues that I’m still working through. I have come to the conclusion that all I need to do is remind her I’m still a work in progress and share the tools that I use so she understands that this is a life-long journey. I also tell her that I don’t have it all figured out, that I’m still learning because in my day these skills were not taught to me. I want her to know that I’m giving them to her now because I want her to be way more prepared than I was.
I also remind her that the tools I’m giving her are about making her life better—not about making her better for others. Because when we shine our light inward, we in turn help others to see the way. If life gets challenging, we must look at the work we need to do and remember that we are the only ones who can change our lives. For example, when we get stressed and take three long, slow breaths, we feel better, and in turn the situation that was causing us stress becomes better.
Another part of parenting I find difficult is that so many people look at my daughter and see her sensitive nature and think she can’t handle life, which is exactly what they say about me. While this hurts, I’ve realised that I have a 100 percent success rate of getting through all my challenges. The only things I would change are not listening to those who told me I’m weak and holding more compassion for my sensitive and emotional nature.
So now I am teaching my daughter that emotions are an important part of life. We must not deny them, but instead allow them all. However, how we handle and use our emotions determines how they become gifts and not blockages or weaknesses in our lives.
Being sensitive in today’s world can feel like you are in an HD drama; it is overwhelming and exhausting. But I am teaching my daughter something I wish I’d been taught: being sensitive brings awareness and understanding of the world and others around us. We just need to remember to help ourselves before we help others.
When the going gets tough, I remind my daughter to get creative and express herself rather than cry, scream, or even breathe (as sometimes breathing can be overwhelming too). I encourage her to play with Legos, paint, or dance; these actions serve her but can also be of benefit to others.
Being sensitive gives us the gift of empathy, of appreciating what matters in life. In turn, this helps us find gratitude for our intuition and ability to understand things on a deeper level. It helps us to see that not everything is black and while, and enables us to be passionate, compassionate, and brave—to have faith even when no one else can see it in us.
Another lesson that is strongly coming through revolves around everything I hate about my body and all the inappropriate comments people make about me on social media. I show my daughter my artistic photos and she says “Cool, Mom, love the lipstick,” or “That looks fun.” I walk around in my bikini or underwear, and she does too thinking it’s normal—not pornographic—and loving that she will soon grow boobies too. She does not see my dimples or wrinkles, and when I say mom is looking old she says “You are beautiful Mom.” She reminds me of my inner voice of love before the world’s voice got too loud, teaching me to only see my flaws.
What I am learning is that our teachings create our normal, and the best education is the ability to show our children that normal is different for everyone. I show her our time in Saudi Arabia when I wore an abaya. I show her my body art and tell her about saunas in Austria and Switzerland. I show her how Christmas festivities are different in Austria than where I grew up in Australia. I share different cultures with her and explain that what can seem rude or strange or different to us can actually be a way of life for another.
She asks me why people hurt others and I explain that hurt people hurt people. I remind her about the moments when I’ve been stressed on the inside and projected that stress onto her by yelling, but then apologize to her. Showing her this can seem small, but I do it so she can see how trauma and suffering can create even more hurtful actions. And when I cried on New Year’s Eve, I explained to her that I had lost a baby around this time in 2012, so it’s a difficult time for me. I want her to know why I’m sad so she doesn’t think it’s about her and so she understands that it’s okay to feel and grieve as long as we handle it with truth and compassion.
I remind her that we don’t have to be perfect in life or how we handle ourselves, we just need to become aware, own it, apologize, have compassion, and keep working on ourselves, as this is a lifelong journey. We are not good or bad people—we are people with challenges who need to own them instead of projecting or crossing boundaries with people who haven’t learned this yet. That is the difference between what society calls good and bad: some are conscious hurt people who choose to work through their pain, some are unconscious hurt people who are building awareness at a slower rate, and some are unconscious or conscious hurt people who do not wish to build awareness or work through their pain. I tell her this so she knows that everyone is different and she has to choose what best suits her and know that what is “right” looks different every step of the way for each of us.
But I think the hardest thing about parenting has been that I see my own shortcomings in my daughter. I see all the things that show up in her: my reactions, my tone of voice, the conversations that don’t come across so nicely, and the emotions that could be better managed. I then have to reflect and own that I am her role model, and I can always do better.
What a humbling experience. What a hit to the ego.
However, at the same time, what I am loving about parenting is that when I fail, my daughter holds compassion and love for me and tells me I am doing great in a way that no other human has. She loves me in my imperfections. This gives me hope and strength in my weak moments; it reminds me that I am loveable, and that love is always there, even when we feel like it’s not.
If I could sum up parenting in a few words, it would be this: Parenting is about humbling our ego, realising we know nothing, and accepting that we have everything to learn. The truth, in life and parenting, is that there are no rules—and that’s what makes it difficult. So trust yourself because you know more than you think you do, then guide the next generation with love, kindness, compassion and forgiveness for all that has come to pass.
Blessings and love always!