While I strongly believe in being emotionally present and showing up for your children, in our busy, multi-tasking lives today we have to find creative ways of doing this on the run, without committing self-sacrifice in the process. While all parents and teachers make sacrifices for their children/students, living in a state of continuous self-sacrifice is not a healthy plan for motherhood and teachers alike. Every mother/teacher must learn to mother herself in order to be a good mother/teacher to her children/students.
“Mothering ourselves takes a great deal of courage,”
Says Dr Christiane Northrup, holistic physician, obstretrician and gynaecologist (and a favourite author of mine), in her best-selling book, “Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom (Piatkus, 1998). She encourages women to mother themselves well for the sake of their own future health. In her book, she shares the following insightful meditation on motherhood that makes for the perfect gift for you:
A MEDITATION ON MOTHERING
By Nancy McBrine Sheehan
In a society preoccupied with how best to raise a child
I’m finding a need to mesh what’s best for my children with what’s necessary
For a well-balanced mother.
I’m recognizing that ceaseless giving translates into giving yourself away.
And, when you give yourself away, you’re not a healthy mother and you’re not a healthy self.
So, now I’m learning to be a woman first and a mother second.
I’m learning to just experience my own emotions.
Without robbing my children of their individual dignity by feeling their emotions too.
I’m learning that a healthy child will have his own set of emotions
And characteristics that are his alone.
And, very different from mine.
I’m learning the importance of honest exchanges of feelings because pretences don’t fool children,
They know their mother better than she knows herself.
I’m learning that no one overcomes her past unless she confronts it.
Otherwise, her children will absorb exactly what she’s attempting to overcome.
I’m learning that words of wisdom fall on deaf ears if my actions contradict my deeds.
Children tend to be better impersonators than listeners.
I’m learning that life is meant to be filled with as much sadness and pain as happiness and pleasure.
And allowing ourselves to feel everything life has to offer is an indicator of fulfilment.
I’m learning that fulfilment can’t be attained through giving myself away.
But, through giving to myself and sharing with others.
I’m learning that the best way to teach my children to live a fulfilling life
Is not by sacrificing my life
It’s through living a fulfilling life myself
I’m trying to teach my children that I have a lot to learn
Because I’m learning that letting go of them
Is the best way of holding on.
This poem so supports what I have always believed about parenting and teaching. That the best way to effect change in your children is to work on yourself. It’s easier to work on and change you, than it is to fix a child.
While there is no doubt that there are children who need outside intervention and support, I believe there are many instances in which, if parents/teachers did what they need to do to heal themselves and resolve their own issues, change in children would be seen very quickly and with little angst and effort.
I say this not just a nice theory, it is something I have experienced with my own children, over and over again. If there is something presenting in my children, before intervening and disciplining, or ‘fixing’ them, I look inwards and ask, “What is it in me that is reflecting in my child’s behaviour right now?” It’s incredible how my own current stress, or unresolved ‘stuff’, impacts on my children. We need to get far more conscious of the parent/teacher-child bond.
And, it really doesn’t matter how old your children are, either, whether they are babies, toddlers, or in primary or high school. The same principle applies. We set the emotional temperature in our homes/classrooms. We determine ‘the weather’. We have to take responsibility for this.
I promise you that parenting/teaching will be a lot less difficult and less complicated if you take this approach. It will also be less tiring and less demanding as there will be more left over for you. You will not be giving all of yourself away, instead, you will be growing yourself and building amazingly honest, respectful and mature relationships with your children because you lead by example.
Our children come to us as incredible teachers if we allow them. Do you?
With much Love,