On a personal note, my son has just completed his final day of school. And I cannot wait to see what is next for him. He is a remarkable young man and I have learned so much about being a woman and about being a mother…and still very much learning, every, single, day. Let me share with you some of what I have learned...
I was 24 when he arrived and not quite understanding what it was to be a woman. In some respects I was still very much a little girl. My dedication is something that has always been a strong point, so I took the role of becoming a mother very seriously…yet at the same time, took on many ideals and pictures about what this looked like.
It started out with me wanting to sacrifice everything for my son, to be the best mother in the world, to protect him at all costs, to give him the best and most natural of everything. This was a pressure that I now do not wish upon anyone. Yet this kind of pressure is not uncommon and is what, in society today, we call love. I thought this was love. Yet I was drained, exhausted and riddled with low grade high functioning anxiety. From the outside you would have said I was doing everything right. Well, the proof was in the pudding as they say – because my son was not sleeping well, he was not settled and I found myself often very frustrated and upset with him. He could see straight through me and as much as I was trying to do good and to be right, it simply had no substance…you could say it was empty. My body and his body were both communicating very clearly…that this was not love.
I soon learned that ALL the models of parenting I had bought in to and even the ones I had not, were not it. I invested so much in getting it ‘right’ that I was completely devastated when I couldn’t breastfeed; I was anxious almost constantly; and I was absolutely exhausted. I was a single-mother, also trying to finish my degree and navigate having a new baby - yep, thought I was superwoman!
We’ve always had an amazing connection underneath it all. But the ideals I held were imposing on him and they certainly didn't do me any favours either. I really hated that this was tainting what I knew to be absolutely divine and glorious. I simply had to change my entire approach to parenting, as the trajectory I was currently on was not looking so great. I realised that I had jumped from ‘little girl’ into the role of being a mother and had forgotten about knowing myself as a woman first. We were doing ok by societies standards (from the outside, ticking boxes) but I knew there was a depth of support that could be offered and I also knew it had to start with me.
This is when I started to learn what true support actually was and that offering this to another is impossible without living it in full for one’s self. I began to learn about what love truly is. That love is the essence and magnificence of who we naturally are. So therefore, I could not give my son love because he already was love. What I could do though, was keep working on being all of the love that I am and by way of reflection show him that he has everything in him to do this too. What developed from here was a boy who became so much more settled in himself and a relationship between us that was open, honest and very real. My words started to reflect what I was living and he could feel this. And most importantly and most beautifully, he responded to this. It was like I had been given the golden key to parenting. As the unfolding continued, he knew he could come to me with anything…and he did. The standards in our house were based on this and on a continually growing level of love that very quickly revealed anything that was not this.
It’s really difficult to give someone space to grow when you are so caught up in your own expectations of yourself and of them. It’s suffocating actually. It’s called ‘smothering’, which is not anywhere near what I now know to be ‘true mothering’. Through the changes I continued to make, I gave myself space and he was given space, the space to learn for himself. And he now knows that he cannot ‘un-know’ the foundation of love that he has in his life and that it is always there for him to return to at any moment, no matter how far he may stray.
Parenting, without all of the ideals (to the best of my ability), has been an absolute honour and privilege, in raising another being to know the truth of who they are, to know what love is and to know how to appreciate it all.
Love is not love without first knowing that you are already love yourself.
Thank you Sebastian, for being you. I cannot wait to see what’s next and for all that will unfold for you...and from there what you will bring to us all.