I am constantly sitting back and observing our home environment and reflecting. I ponder what modifications could be made to make it more accomodating for all my children (ages 2,4, and 6). I suppose it is the Montessori Directress in me, but observation and reflection seems to be an innate part of my being; the reason I was so keen to obtain my science degree in human development. I find this area so intriguing along with anthropology.
Our home set up is looking really good. Everyone seems to have maximum independence for their abilities and all my children are aware of the limitations within our environment. However, thinking about the broader picture of our home life, I have been really shifting my focus on one area: the speed of life.
No matter how hard I try to slow down it seems that the demands of life keep busying my mind, adding on commitments and fast forwarding our daily routines. Last year after being really mentally and physically burnt out and suffering various health issues because of it, I made a promise to myself and my family that I would revamp A LOT to ensure I did not go into meltdown mode again. It has been a conscious effort everyday since then as I am a people pleaser and the typical mum that puts everyone first but herself. I am proud to say that I have made huge progress in this area, largely contributed to learning forgiveness towards myself and gratitude in all things: yes, even in those failed accomplishments, I know there is a reason and nothing is ever really a failure if a lesson is learned.
One thing I know about children from all my years of observation and research is that they are true products of their environment. What they see, hear and do very much becomes woven into who they are becoming as individuals. It makes me ask myself quite frequently, “what do my children see when they look at me?”
What do they see? I know before my health issues they would have seen a hurricane force for a momma–a swirling gust moving from one place to the next, mostly making sure everyone was out the door on time and where they needed to be, just picking up whatever was in my path to ensure I didn’t miss a thing. It was a year ago, close enough that I can still feel the emotional intensity if I sit with it for too long, but enough time has passed that I feel like I am quite removed from ‘who that person was’and I am not at risk of becoming that bellowing storm again. All I can say is thank you for revelation and clarity!
I know I do not want my children to grow up with the belief that this is how a person should move through life. The sense of urgency and my fast past nature was something that had been a part of me for such a long time (and yes, on days when I feel overly busy and anxious they are often very unwelcomed visitors once again).
All my children are six and under; these are really informative years where the brain is developing at the most rapid rate ever. How will this view of how their world moves affect that? How will it shape their values and belief systems? I knew that I needed to start acting like the person and mother that I believed was to be valued and it did not include neglecting myself, putting myself last or moving about so fast that I become disconnected from what is important.
After all, my daughter looks to me to form her ideas of how a mother and wife should be. Just the same, my sons are gathering views about how their future wife and mother to their children should act. I don’t want my daughter to think that she has to throw the most perfect, hand-made birthday parties to be respected or to feel validated as a mom. I don’t want my sons to think their wives should always have the house clean and dinner ready at all expenses.
What I do want them to see is that a mom, wife, woman, (human being, really!) tries their best. Like my children, I am under construction, a work in progress. After all, we never stop growing, really. Some days “best ” will be knock out dinners and others it will be take-away. Most days I will have patience, but others it will be lost. So, I say I am sorry and I will try better next time.
I know that my children really do not care if they bring home-made cupcakes to school for their birthdays or a box from a last-minute pick up at the local shop. What they really care about is acknowledgement–that I acknowledged their birthday and the very special place they hold in my heart and a reminder of the unique contribution they add to the world.
So I focus on being present. I focus on being mindful. If I feel a bit of hurry entering my bloodstream I note it without judgement. If it is the stress of getting somewhere on time that is niggling me, I focus on the important bit: getting there safely even if I am late. I take a deep breath, find forgiveness in the situation and put my best foot forward. I know now that it is not a reflection of who I am as a mother or a person.
My children see how I have slowed down and it takes stress off of them as well. We are also very open and communicative about our emotions and they know what I mean when I say, “Mum is feeling a bit overwhelmed” when perhaps I have asked them to please get their shoes on for the fifth time. Because I am honest, they see the sincerity and have developed empathy towards such situations. In turn, they share their emotions with me and expect the same respect.
In short, I know that I am not perfect and it is something that I do not strive for anymore. When we leave that burden, life seems easier and more enjoyable. I want my children to learn realistic expectations and experience childhood with a mum who loves and respects herself enough to take care of herself. I could prepare a picturesque home environment but if I am not fully present; emotionally, spiritually and physically–none if it would matter.
Start living the life you want to live and deserve.