Since the New Year is now in full swing, I’ve done a lot of thinking lately as it relates to being a mother. What does being a mother actually mean? Does it mean you’re in charge of someone? Does it mean that, more than likely, someone’s in charge of you? Am I even old enough to be a mother? That last question is rhetorical.
Like a lot of you, I had to navigate the rocky terrain of blending a family. While there’s a ton of people that are born to be a stepmother (kudos!), blending families can also cause a lot of stress and strain at first. But after the initial ‘I think I’m going to throw up’ stage, it can also become something brilliant. This was our case and it’s more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.
I was young and naïve when I strolled into a blended family. Sometimes I screwed up (really screwed up) and sometimes I did alright. I got better as I went along, matured and listened to my intuition. I would venture they would say the same. It took time, but there became a familiarity that’s present in all families. My love for them grew into something I figured was akin to having my own.
Then our daughter came into our world and rocked it again. It made me feel young and naïve all over again. I screw up (are you sensing a theme?) and I also do a great job when I’m on my A-game. I’ve gotten better as I’ve gone along, understanding and listening to her voice. It’s easy to listen when she’s humming to herself, but it’s also necessary for me to listen (most of the time) when she’s screaming at the top of her lungs.
Let me just put this out there before I go any further. In my wildest dreams I’m one of those perfect mothers waiting with a perfect cookie that’s been whipped up and fresh out of my spotless oven when I pick my daughter up from school. In reality, I have thrown some haphazard snack together in the car while peeling out of the driveway already 5 minutes late. Ya feel me?
Of course we’re all busy. We all lose it on occasion. We all have a day in which we’d rather lock ourselves in a room instead of play another round of the ‘game de jour’. If you think everyone’s better off by locking yourself in the bathroom to hang out in the tub, you’re probably right. I have zero judgement. I think it’s imperative to take care of yourself and nurture yourself so you can nurture others.
We have been given the ultimate gift of being a parent. It is a tremendous honor, is it not? After a ton of reflection, I truly think one of our primary purposes as a parent is not to teach our sons and daughters everything we know. Our primary purpose is to listen. As a result, we are the ones who learn and the monumental side effect is that the child feels confident in his or her own thoughts. When a child is self-assured, she continues to listen to her inner voice well after she’s stopped listening to you (cue hair flip and eye roll here).
Being a parent teaches you about yourself. Fortunately, it allows you to become aware of your quirks, hot buttons and joys. By listening, your internal awareness becomes focused: continually fine-tuning your strengths and softening the rough edges (I have those for days). Constantly becoming a slightly better version of ourselves is the payoff. Then everyone, including you, reap the benefits.
What’s your intention for 2017? My intention for this year is to simply be present. I have to remind myself to slow down and pay attention to that dandelion because SHE notices it. She invites me into the world in a way I have not seen before.
In my humble opinion, a child’s point of view is the most breath-taking.
Bev harber says...
Liz, this is beautiful….miss your family
January 18, 2017
You write quite well. Articulate, considered and composed.
As a former stay at home Dad, I especially appreciate the gender neutral aspect since your words spoke to me as well! Thanks!
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