10 Apr Perspective Is Everything
I’ve wanted to share this video for a long time. I saw it for the first time about six months ago. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. It moves me to tears every time I watch it. I’ve been trying to figure out why I find it so moving and so profound. This is what I have come up with.
I love my children deeply and I work very hard at being a mother but most of the time I feel like I’m doing a bad job. If I had been one of the mom’s in the video my answer’s would have been the same. I need to be more patient, more loving, more present, more, more, more… I ask myself how can I work so hard at something and do it so wrong all the time?
The shocking part of the video is that the mother’s perception of herself and the child’s perception of her are COMPLETELY different. Not one child in that video said “My mom yells a lot and is late for carpool.” They are not judging us harshly the way we judge ourselves. The bottom line being those kids know they are loved just like my kids know they are loved. Their perception and experience of me is love even with all of my imperfect ways of showing it. Maybe I can change my perception of myself. Maybe I can see myself as happy and fun loving the way my children do. Maybe the way to do this is through being happy.
I think personal happiness is deeply underestimated with regard to parenting. Mother’s in particular seem to have the self-sacrifice gene that gets activated when those little ones arrive. The problem is self sacrifice on a continual basis over time is very depleting. It also opens the door for resentment to start creeping in to your close relationships. I think it is hard for mothers to see that their own personal happiness is just as important to their children’s well being as food, clothing and education are. The happier and more fulfilled we are as individuals the better equipped we are to be patient, loving and fun to be around. This is where self-care comes in. I am responsible for my own happiness. I’m responsible for having interests outside my family – activities I enjoy and that fill me up. I deserve time to myself to do these things and to pursue my dreams and interests. We all live such busy lives and it’s hard to rationalize time away from our families – especially if we already work or have other commitments – but it is vital.
What do you enjoy? Gardening, exercise, cooking, dancing? It could be as simple as a cup of coffee and reading a magazine uninterrupted. If you don’t know what you enjoy that is a great place to start. Try some things out. See what appeals to you. In my collage workshops we use pictures to see what is calling you. My untapped passion for art came to me through a collage and it changed my life. I know that the happier I am as a person the better I am at being a mom. I want my girls to see me happy and fulfilled and to see me taking risks and pursing things I’m passionate about. I want to set an example for them that it is healthy to take care of yourself and not selfish. What could be selfish about that? When I am at my best it benefits everyone around me – most especially my family.
So I guess what I am saying is let’s let ourselves off the hook. Let’s just decide we are doing it right. Let’s decide to change our perception of ourselves as people and as parents and let’s take action to be as happy and fulfilled as possible. Doing so makes it possible to give our best to everyone in our lives. They (and we) deserve nothing less.