Let Go of Perfection
One of the things that can happen in the initiation into motherhood is that we can be challenged to keep or give up our ideals. One of my mentors once said something along the lines of: ideas are beneficial but ideals are limiting.
In my experience, holding on to my ideals of motherhood and child raising took me down a very unhealthy path. I was unable to respond to what was needed in the moment, both for my own health and well-being and for the well-being of my child because I was so attached to how I thought things should be.
This can be a dangerous and slippery slope when there are so many experts in the field of parenting and child raising spouting off about being the perfect parent and how that’s going to effect the well-being and evolutionary potential of your child.
Each child and parent are very different so I don’t know that there is a one-fits-all approach. I think it’s more important to focus on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being of the parents and child. Is what you are doing working? First for you as the parent? And also for the child. If it is, keep doing what your doing. But if it’s not, and especially if your health or well-being in even one of those facets is deteriorating then it’s time to try something new. Healthy, happy parents create healthy, happy children in my experience or at least have a better chance at it.
In my story I was so attached to the ideals of co-sleeping, living in a tiny house, never sleep training my child, no screen time ever, breastfeeding until two or later, and more - that my health on many levels collapsed. And even after it collapsed I hung tightly to my ideals of what motherhood looked like. For me, it meant getting so exhausted that I wanted to die before I started to open to new ideas and new ways that parenting and raising my child might look.
Parents and mothers especially are wired to put their children first and sometimes at the detriment to their own well-being. And sometimes they don’t really have a choice if they don’t have the support system in place that will give them the space to look after themselves.
This is the first shift that needs to happen. The experience of parenting doesn’t have to be coming from a cup that is empty. We need better support systems and to be reminded that taking care of ourselves is taking care of our children.
Taking care of ourselves might look like opening to new ideas and letting go of ideals and values that are not serving us. I’m not suggesting you let go of all your values but to really looking at what is not working. And it’s important to be compassionate that we don’t all live in the ideal situations or societies that might support our highest ideals. In offering ourselves and the world compassion and coming to terms with what is real, we can then do the very best with what we have and trust that everything is going to work out. Cut yourself some slack and commit to doing the best you can WHILE taking good care of yourself and your family to whatever extent you can.
For me this has meant sleep training (in the most gentle and compassionate way I could find) my son at 10 months old and sleeping in a separate room from both him and his father. Yes I deeply miss the cuddles but I also deeply love actually getting some sleep. And I’m a much better parent and partner when I’m well-rested. My son started sleeping much better too and that of course is great for his development.
This has meant my son gets a tiny bit of screen time here and there so I can have a peaceful shower or cook supper without getting completely stressed out. A stressed out parent is not a good one either.
This has meant weaning my son before he was two (and I probably should have done it sooner) because my health was still suffering even though I was doing so much to support it.
I have made my health and sanity a top priority because I’m a much better mother when I do. And just that can be a huge part of your parenting model because you really do have all you need within you.
Healthy Happy Parents can raise Healthy Happy Children
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