"Do unto others as you would have then do unto you." Everyone knows that phrase and probably tries to live by it somewhat. I think there should be a special "gentle parenting" mom version that states "do unto yourself as you would do unto your child." Most of us are much harder on ourselves than we would ever be on our child. While we all talk of being accepting of our children's feelings and being patient with where our children are at, we often are not as forgiving when it comes to ourselves.
Maybe it's because we forget the power of the word "yet." It's easy when we look at our children and we see their potential to think, "He isn't talking much, yet" (but she will!) or "She isn't walking, yet" (but one day she will run track!). It isn't always as easy to be patient with our children when they are throwing tantrums or disobeying us, but ultimately, we wouldn't be even trying to be patient if we didn't have faith that our children can do better and will one day master their emotions and be able to express them in less dramatic ways. With ourselves, however, it's another story. We almost never believe in ourselves the same way. Why not? Why doesn't the word "yet" still apply to us? Aren't we still growing and evolving every bit as much as our children are?
When you had your child, you likely heard the phrase, "when a child is born, so is a mother." If you allow yourself, you and your child will grow together. We may not be changing at the same accelerated pace that our children are, but we most certainly are growing spiritually and mentally a little more every day. If we nurture that growth the same way that we attempt to nurture our children, we will grow into better people through the experience of motherhood (and life in general).
I've decided to develop a new mantra for myself as a mother (and as a woman). "I am not who I want to be yet." It's the "yet" that's the key. It allows forgiveness when I don't live up to my own expectations. It allows myself room to grow into the mother and person I want to be without making judgements about where I am on my journey. Our children also benefit from the optimism and forgiveness we give ourselves. After all, how are they going to learn how to forgive themselves and others if we don't give them opportunities to see our own failings (and successes) and our own growth. Every night I pray for the strength to be a better mom (and woman) tomorrow than I was today. I acknowledge that I fail (and fail often) just as I acknowledged my son's falls when he was learning to walk, but just as I had faith that he would someday master walking, I also have faith that, one day, I will master the things I am currently working on.
You may be wondering what is bringing about all of this introspection. The truth is that today is my birthday and it's not just any birthday. It's one of those birthdays that come along every ten years with a "0" on the end of it that makes you evaluate where you are in your life. This is the first one I've had in which I've ended up spending more time thinking about the future than I have been thinking about the past. Some of it is directly related to my child and my hope to meet future children in the next few years. I dream of all the milestones that I will be privileged to witness and of all the wonderful family bonding we will do. I also dream of the rich, loving relationship I will be forging with my child as his personality continues to emerge and evolve. Yet, some of my excitement is also for myself. I never thought I would be the kind of mom I am, but somehow this mom has emerged from me and I am surprised and happy to meet her. I look forward to seeing who else I will become in the next ten, twenty, thirty years! I will not always make the right decisions or choices, but that will be because I haven't become the person I will be "yet."
So, my plan for the next ten years at least, is to be as open t0 the person I'm becoming as I am to the person my son is becoming. It is my dearest hope that you will do the same for yourself and your children. After all, you are not who you will be yet!