It’s funny how the perception of ourselves can often differ so vastly to the perception others have of us. Equally it is interesting and in many ways scary how other’s perceptions of us shape our own being.
When I first became a mother, I received a comment that laid the foundation for the way I saw myself in the role of parent. As I bounced my baby on my knees, taking in his chubby legs and tiny toes, someone said “you best look after that baby” in a way that implied I would not. It was this moment that linked together a number of other moments leading up to that one that did the exact same thing. Moments that implied or openly stated I was too young, too inexperienced or simply not cut out for the for the role of mother. It was this moment that sparked my desire to prove every, single, one of them wrong.
Over the following weeks, months, years, I threw myself into my new found role as mother. I read mountains of parenting, child development and early years education books. I poured over hundreds of journals and newspaper articles about the benefits of different foods, discipline practices and sleep training methods. I found myself riddled with guilt if I practiced one style of parenting after reading a momentous amount of research on the benefits, only to then discover a new, damming piece of research released six months later.
I threw myself so deeply into my role as mother, I lost sight of who I was in my own right. I set an unrealistic and unachievable standard for myself in my desire to prove people wrong, when in actual fact I had nothing to prove at all. I had taken this comment and embodied this warped perception of myself as it was solid, proven fact, instead of taking it for what it was, a misguided and untrue perception.
The issue with taking on other people’s perceptions or views and embodying them as my own is that even when I recognise that they are untrue or indeed my own, is that they are hard to uproot once they have taken hold. It then becomes a process of rewriting that internal messaging and taking note of the world around me. It means listening, watching and taking in the present moment around me.
I’m a huge believer of the universe or of there being a spiritual guidance of some kind. So when I stood scraping mashed sweet potato off the dining room table, while my children fought over a toy train in the living room, the sounds of their disagreement billowing an octave higher than ‘Blaze and the Monster Machines’, which was playing on the television, I listened to the voice coming from the telephone held against my ear. “Children take in more from our actions than the words we speak and they show their love in the affection they give us.”
At that moment I realised the fighting had stopped and clinging onto my leg was one of my children. I looked down at a little round face, with big eyes full of laughter, happiness and love and in that moment I realised it isn’t about being perfect, it is about being present and loving.
Then as I sat on the bed later than, with one child under each arm and a book on my lap, I read the words to a story I’ve read a hundred times before. It was then I realised that I don’t need to prove anyone wrong at all. While there may always be people who have opinion on my capabilities as a parent, their viewpoint of me is not my business and I refuse to embody those misguided and untrue perceptions any longer. Being a good mother is not about being right all the time. It is not about being perfect. It is in the moments I hug them when they are sad. It is in the times I tuck them into bed and kiss them goodnight. It is in the times I tell them, “go on then, one more story”. It is in the times we lay on a blanket in the garden picking out shapes from the clouds. It is in listening to their stories while in the car. Being a good mother is in the times I love them wholly, unapologetically and without conditions. I know I’m doing the best I can and to the people that matter most, to my children, that is more than enough. Love is enough. My love is enough. I am enough