Unusually, today I decided to start with a story. Mainly because I couldn’t think of a better way to start this without having my emotions scattered all over. It’s a bit emotional because this is a situation that specifically happened to me, and it was not until later on that I discovered I betrayed myself and didn’t act as rightfully as I now think I should have. Come to think of it, “Good girls don’t get the corner office“! Anyway, be my judge.
So, one of my friends, now ex-friend (because there is no way we gonna be friends again) came over to my house one afternoon and said very hurtful words towards me.
I am a mom to one beautiful girl who for some reason is not living with me at the moment. The reasons are valid to me and they obviously don’t have to make sense to anybody else. One of the lamest reasons that I want to cite here for the sake of this story is that I needed a break from being depended upon by another human. I wanted to wake up and not make breakfast because I didn’t have to. I wanted to stay in bed all day without starving two stomachs. But of course, this is Africa and the last thing a woman should do is be tired. In fact, how dare you even fall sick. God forbid that a baby should be birthed by such a lazy mother.
So, according to my ex-friend, let’s call her Marion, I should NEVER have my baby 200 meters away from me. Given the fact that she’s also a few years older than me, and has older children she of course has all the knowledge and expertise that pertains to childbearing and rearing. More reasons I had to sit under the sound of her voice as she lectured, condescended, and even humiliated me in the presence of some younger girls who had visited including my younger sister. Now, have you ever wished for a situation to repeat itself so you can handle it in a more legendary manner? That’s what triggered me to share this story. Believe it or not, I left my own house almost without a word. You could be asking where Marion is at this point, and yes it’s what you are thinking, she was holding a plate of rice in the same house. Now make it make sense why I had to be the one leaving? I most definitely need lessons on self-respect!
Lessons learned from the incidence
I’m a professional overthinker who gets paid nothing for the skill. I thought through the issue, of course not trying to make sense of what Marion said because she most definitely wasn’t addressing me in that tone. I am a firm believer in “what you are saying is as important as how you say it” and she failed on the ‘how’ so even the ‘what’ can’t be the water under my feet. However, I am watching the rearview mirror closely and this is what I have to say to all first-time Moms.
They aren’t better than you!
Listen, I don’t care how many children they have raised or how old they are but they are not better than you. In her book, Daring Greatly, Brené Brown explains how strategies on “how to parent” are both seductive and dangerous. She further states how these strategies breed absolutes, intolerance, and judgment and that’s why parents are too quick to criticize other parents because that makes them feel like they are doing a better job. In the real sense, parenting is a shame and a minefield of judgment where all of us are wading through the waters of uncertainties.
One day I had a conversation with my mother who raised eight of us and a few cousins haha, she admittedly said, parenting doesn’t get easier even with more children. Every child is different and she gathered courage all eight times because it never got better. The desire you have to engage in “good parenting” and the engagement you are having is most assuredly enough and trust me as long as you raise a wholesome child, perfect is the most impractical word there exist.
You deserve help
Say it after me “I deserve help”. Ever heard of “Every woman needs a wife?” This however is not an absolute rule. If you feel like a super mum and can hack it all, then my hands are tied. To the woman who gets fatigued, don’t be guilty of saying you are tired of raising the babies and you need a small break. If you have a partner or parents who can relieve you for a few days or months, then why not? There is no glory in suffering whatsoever.
One interesting fact I have learned from the older women in my life, they didn’t know they could ask for help. They were raised by other women who defined their roles in what sounds like “being a slave” in the subtlest of ways. If the same women decide to see things from a luminous angle, then they most definitely will encourage you to get the help you need. However, the miserable ones, need warmth.
You can stay away from your kid(s)
I have heard several women tell me “I can’t live far from my kid(s). While I don’t have a problem with that, can we just stop shoving that agenda inside people’s throats? Harsh as it may sound, raising children is hard work. Forget that ted talk of “children are a blessing”, whilst that is undoubtedly true, they can get to your nerve or two. Women asking for help with their children is not a question of their love and commitment but a question of self-care so they can get back to parenting graciously.
Breaks can sound something like a solo coffee date on a Saturday afternoon, a weekend on the beach, a month at home alone, and so on. All said and done, as a mum, you need rest and “me time” from time to time.
You are doing a good job
Parenting is not a competition of who is doing what better. It is instead the most challenging assignment that comes with no manual. We just wake up to do what we think is good for the well-being of our children. I don’t care how many children they raised before you, you are a champion and the best mom there is for your children.
Think about it this way, when you were a child, did you ever think of your mom as bad or not doing the best? Most definitely not. That’s the same way your child(ren) thinks of you. good and perfect. Funny story, that’s who you are.
Your presence can be felt whether you are physically present or not
I have given a personal experience before of a time I used to be physically present for my daughter but never available for her emotionally. It happens all the time when you are not in good vibrations with yourself. Sometimes you just need a simple break to get your emotions together then go back and carry on with your parenting duties. Kid(s) want to feel your presence more emotionally. It is almost useless for them to see you but cannot connect with you.
I am here to encourage every mom, if you feel like you are growing weary, that’s normal. Do not guilt trip yourself. You are only human and you deserve to rest. People working in corporates receive annual leaves and so should you.
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