This is the curious paradox: when we accept ourselves as we are, then we change. (Carl Rogers)
Mothering is Our Job
In our work as parents, we strive for an ideal. We know how we want our parenting to look: joyful connection with our children, preparation of healthy meals, living in a clean and beautiful environment, reading and playing together, gently supporting our children in times of need. As these tasks become impossibly difficult, we push and struggle and wonder why we can’t make it work. We beat ourselves up, blame situations or people or our history or situation.
A group of friends has been discussing some painful realizations:
- I don’t want to play with my children.
- There’s nothing I want more than time away from the kids.
- I’m angry that he doesn’t talk.
- I hate that she’s not potty trained.
Astute parents try to shift out of these feelings by feeling gratitude for the things they do like about their children, situations and themselves. Gratitude is a lovely practice, but faking it isn’t gratitude. It becomes another should (I should be grateful for my children. Why aren’t I?) The idea that we should be grateful becomes another reason for guilt and sorrow.
When you experience such feelings, acknowledge them and love yourself anyway. Try some meridian tapping with phrases like those below. Modify the words so that they feel right. (If you don’t want to click the link, simply tap on your fingertips with the index finger of the other hand while saying the following.)
- Even though I don’t want to play with my children, I can love myself anyway.
- Even though I want to get away from my children, I am a good enough mother.
- Even though I hate things about my child, I can consider forgiving myself.
Tap using those phrases for three rounds. Finish with a round of tapping “I have enough. I do enough. I am enough.”
The purpose of the tapping exercise is not to cheer up, but to love, accept and forgive yourself no matter what.
If you tapping on these phrases – or even just say them – you may be surprised one day to discover that you really do accept yourself as you are. Perhaps you will then be even more astonished that the ways and means for more satisfactory parenting and living show up for you.
Enoughness is the container of self-kindness. (Jennifer Louden)
More quick ideas for reaching peace and acceptance:
1. Join the Swan Mothers’ Circle and learn to Love Life with Atypical Children
2. Soften your belly and breathe.
3. Lay on the couch for five minutes. Put an eye pillow scented with lavender on your eyes.
4. Have self-mercy and awareness in scared times.
5. Go outside. Walk. Dig. Lay on the Earth.
6. Gaze into the distance. Look up and out for a few minutes. See the big picture.
Several of the Getting There suggestions were inspired by Jennifer Louden’s words during an interview with Pace Smith. I highly recommend reading Jennifer Louden’s The Life Organizer: A Woman’s Guide to a Mindful Year and joining the Connection Revolution.