In honor of Mother's Day and our beautiful first born's birthday, I'm sharing a bit about my journey through motherhood these past nine years.
From childhood, I was certain I wanted to be a mother. My mom told me my nickname is preschool was "Mother Mara." The day Audrey was born was the most magical moment of my life up to that point. I was so in love with her during the infant and toddler years. By the time she turned four, she was an older sister to two siblings and we had moved several times. I remember feeling depleted and worn thin. Around that time, she began experiencing some sensory processing issues, which soon came to (for our family) an extreme height. I felt so hopeless. I didn't know how to help her through it, especially amidst caring for our other two babies, then two years and newborn. It got the point we took her in for a behavioral evaluation and we were assured she would eventually develop the ability to manage her symptoms on her own. He was right - she did. But, it was a long five years. And our relationship paid a steep price.
Looking back, that was during this time I felt a divide growing between us. Or at least the connection was faint and so far from ideal. I wanted so badly to be able to help her and at the same time I subconsciously associated her behavior as a reflection of my parenting ability. I longed to be that mother that smiled every time their child entered the room. But instead, I felt myself tense up with inadequacy.
During this time, Josh and I read mountains of parenting books and remained faithful to their teachings the best we could. After some more military moves, I found myself here in Italy thinking that I was done with trying to make things better. I began to consider the notion that maybe I would never have the relationship with my daughter I had always hoped for. I lost faith that there was some secret solution or magic book that would heal the past and answer all my parenting prayers. I decided to read The Awakened Family, but told myself that if it left me with that all-t0o-familiar feeling of inadequacy, I'd give up parenting books for good.
After reading this book, I had the realization that my relationship with Audrey was similar in nature to the one I had with myself: lacking in unconditional love and acceptance. I have struggled with perfectionism and found myself unconsciously expecting that of our Audrey. Thankfully, Dr. Shefali helped me to awaken to the what truly needed changing, and it had everything to do with myself.
That was nearly nine months ago and since then we have taken such transformative strides in our relationship. Josh can attest that the energies between us have almost visibly shifted. I owe so much to Josh and his unconditional love throughout every high and low and all the times in between. He has remained unwavering in his support and we are where we are because of him.
I wish it were easier to articulate the exact steps that led us to this point of growing love and admiration we have for one another. I am, however, positive that these five changes certainly contributed to the process:
1. Intention: Setting an intention for change and creating space for new possibilities was everything. I have unwavering faith I can each day, be a better mother than I was the day before. There will never be perfection and setbacks will occur, but progress is always possible.
2. Meditation: This could be an entire post in itself. If you are new to the idea or even curious, I suggest checking out the Headspace App. They even have short guided meditations for kids that we love to use!
3. Self-care: This is HUGE. I often resist in life what I crave and need the most. Somewhere into motherhood I started pouring every ounce of love into my family and neglecting the relationship with myself. I wasn't caring for my own physical, mental or emotional needs nearly as well as I was for my children. The well ran dry and it was clear I began to crack. I began to release the inner resistance and committed to allowing myself time to invest in self-care.
4. Positive parenting and family vision planning: Lots more on this post, Family Retreat - 2016.
5. Sacred time: Creating time to invest in our relationship has been invaluable. Planning for one-on-one time with Audrey, including special dinners and an overnight trip to the spa helped speak to her love language and fill her love cup.
Happy Mother's Day to everyone one of our own mothers out there. May they feel loved and adored always.
Ps. I know leaving blog comments is so nine years ago. But, I love hearing from you so if you leave your thoughts I might have to find you and give you a huge HUG!