Here’s the deal about being a mom: We are all new moms.
Every child is different, as is every phase of life. Just when you think you have mastered momming, you give birth to a second child who defies the logic to which you had become accustomed.
Case in point: Your first child had horrible gas as an infant. You gave her Mylicon and it was miraculously cured! Second child comes around. You treat his gas with Mylicon and…nothing. The screaming ensues. So basically it’s as if you are a new mom all over again.
Mess Up, Rebuild, Heal: Growing in Motherhood
Moms have to develop new tricks, discipline strategies, and creative approaches to tough love for each child. It’s a never-ending barrage of trial and error, tears and laughter, mess ups and successes. I have learned to welcome this inevitable pattern of momming.
I mess up, rebuild, and heal.
I remember the day vividly.
My 6-year-old daughter asked, “Mom, can you stop asking me how my day at school went?”
Surprised I replied, “What? Why? That’s my job! I am supposed to know about your day.”
“Yeah, but I am afraid to tell you if I had a bad day.” She started to cry and I wanted to vomit.
You see, I had created a pattern of anxiety in my daughter. She would walk off the bus, I would ask her about her day, she would share all of the ups and downs, then I would harp on the negative as if it would actually help change her behavior.
“What do you mean you were spoken to on the playground because you went on the monkey bars? You know that 1st graders aren’t allowed on those!”
“You didn’t finish your morning work? Again?”
Even typing this makes me want to curl up in a ball of embarrassment and heartache.
Was I truly angry at my daughter? Of course not. What I realized was that I had some serious work to do on myself! I was projecting my fears and insecurities onto an innocent little girl with a zest for life like no other. Eventually, she began avoiding eye contact with me as she came off the bus—forcing a smile when I asked how her day was. Truthfully, her days were usually great, but I had conditioned her to be anxious when she saw me after school. I was more concerned with how her actions reflected on me as a parent, that I was neglecting something even more important—our relationship.
The shift in our relationship saddened me. I knew I had to dig deep and search myself to figure out how my behavior was affecting our relationship.
So, I began to rebuild. I started to seek to understand versus judge. I was intentional about healing with love, rather than fear or frustration. I became her advocate and unconditional supporter.
As vivid as her comment was that started this journey, the pivotal moment of this rebuilding process was even more powerful.
I will never forget that Friday. It had been weeks—maybe even months—since I had started to rebuild our relationship. Every day our connection grew stronger, more positive, and less stressful. I was no longer trying to “fix her.” I realized it was me who required fixing.
The bus pulled up and I saw her cute, stylish pants step off. Her hair was wispy and the braid I had secured earlier that morning was barely holding on. As she stood across the street with her oversized backpack, watching the bus driver for the signal to cross, I waited. The driver gave the motion to cross and it was as if it was slow motion.
Her head turned from the bus driver to me and she wore a smile as if her heart had just exhaled. Something had shifted! Our months of rebuilding had finally come to an end. She ran towards me then jumped into my arms! I found my arms unable to squeeze any harder than I was!
I didn’t ask about her day because really—it didn’t matter. She was in my arms. She trusted me and our hearts were healed.
Growing in Motherhood
Now don’t get me wrong, there is no perfecting the skill of momming and I anticipate the inevitable mess up again. I am finding that parenting is more about self-reflection, rebuilding, and healing than anything else.
We can’t be afraid to turn the mirror back on ourselves. Welcome every opportunity to become a better person and a better parent.
Trust me, your kids will thank you for it.