I believe that the people and events in our lives are here to teach us what we need to learn in this lifetime. This worldview always has me asking, “What is this person here to teach me?” “What can I learn from this experience?”
There's nothing that has taught me more than being a mom. I'm sure other parents will agree that there's no greater spiritual journey we could be on.
As Mother's Day approaches, I'm thinking about the big lessons I've learned from parenting my two amazing kids. This Mother's Day, I'll be focusing on how grateful I am for them and thanking them for being my two greatest teachers.
Here are my reflections on what I've learned in my first 13 years of motherhood.
1. Our souls are connected beyond this space and time. When my son was first born, before I even held him in my arms, he looked directly and intently into my eyes and held my gaze. At that moment, I felt with every fiber of my being that our souls were already connected and that we were meeting again. Because of my infertility struggle, I had waited 4 years for him to arrive. I realized as I looked at him that the journey happened exactly as it should have and that it couldn’t have happened any other way - because he was meant to join us at that moment. Maybe I'm crazy and this is a common birth experience, but to me it felt extraordinary and life-changing. What an incredible way to begin motherhood.
2. I can’t control anything beyond myself. I began this journey under the illusion that I could be in control as a parent. Ha! If the newborn sleep stage didn’t cure me of that, the toddler tantrums certainly did. Learning that my focus should always be on my own energy has probably helped me more than anything I’ve learned. I remind myself often: There is no control. My only choice is how I react.
3. Every life stage is beautiful and has its own unique gifts and challenges.
First the gifts: I've loved every age and stage of my kids' lives so far! Looking for the good at each age helps keep me in a state of gratitude. It also helps me remember to be present with my kids. I don't want to miss out on the gifts of each age.
Next, the challenges: Early on, it was so easy to get stuck in worrying that a challenging phase would last forever. I realized after a few phases passed that at each stage, my kids were learning what they needed. I learned to trust in their development and to let go of the fear of how they’ll turn out. I adopted and still use the mantra “This too shall pass”.
4. Allowing space for expressing emotions is important and necessary. For a while, I tried to convince my kids that they shouldn’t express negative emotions. The more I tried to stop them from having angry and upset outbursts, the more they persisted. I eventually realized that I needed to validate how they felt and to teach them HOW to process their emotions – how to feel them and express them. This has been an important lesson for ME too.
5. My energy affects everyone else’s energy and is reflected back to me. Have you ever had a stressful day where you just needed your kids to behave? Why is it that on that one day we need them to behave, they’re at their WORST? It took me a while to figure this one out, but now I know: KIDS CAN FEEL OUR ENERGY! Not only can they feel it, but what happens is that they match it and reflect it back to us in their own unique (and challenging) ways. Moms, this is why taking care of ourselves – physically, emotionally and spiritually – is imperative. I check in and remind myself often, "I am responsible for my own energy."
6. My job is not to protect my children from feeling hurt. This one is tough because it’s painful for us to see our kids hurting – it makes us feel so helpless! Trust me, my default desire is to fix everything so they don't ever have to feel disappointment. However, I now know that teaching them how to move through pain is one of the most important things I can do.
7. Children come into this world with their own unique gifts and personalities. If you have more than one child, you know, they come out of the womb with their own blueprint! Therefore, it's not my job to shape my kids but to support them in becoming who they already are. This is such a big one! I’ve caught myself so many times projecting my desires and expectations onto my children. I’ve had to let go of that need to control and to trust that they have their own unique paths. I’ve realized that my job is not to steer them in any direction or shape them – but to give them the freedom to become who they already inherently are.
8. I can’t be perfect. There’s no better cure for perfectionism than parenting! There’s nothing perfect about it! I make parenting mistakes every single day. Sometimes I forget everything I’ve learned and everything I know to be true, and I get lost in my own stress, busyness and need to control. I’m constantly starting over, and that's ok.
9. Forgiveness is an everyday practice. I find that I need my kids’ forgiveness more often than they need mine. Even more, the forgiveness that really needs to be practiced is within. I have to forgive myself so that I can move on and do better next time.
10. I always have more to learn. In no way am I under the delusion that I have it all figured out! But I am willing to keep asking, “What is this here to teach me?” and “What can I learn from this experience?” I know that if I stay focused on what I need to learn, I’m doing the best I can. I know that my kids will continue to be my greatest teachers.
By the way, this isn’t just about motherhood. You can apply this approach to any of your relationships. Just ask yourself: What have been my biggest lessons? How can I be more open to learning about myself? I hope this serves you.
Love and light,