Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Honest Motherhood

First chapter in.....and I am hooked. Was this book written as a letter to me? It sure feels like it, because so many things in just the first chapter alone echo thoughts or feelings I have or have had as a mother. From doubts and frustration to pure exhaustion. At any given moment I am thinking one, two or all of these thoughts;

       My 19 month old is still waking up every hour or two most nights, this can't be normal.... What am I doing wrong? It's gotta be teething......Should we have sleep-trained?..... Why does every other baby sleep?......I would give anything to have 8 straight hours of sleep....... I swear if she asks to nurse one more time I am weaning her cold turkey.......Why did I commit to not weaning her before she was ready? Oh right there are hundreds of reasons that it is beneficial to breastfeed into toddlerhood <insert google search to remind myself of these reasons> aaaaaaand it's official I will be breastfeeding this little milk addict on her first day of kindergarten..... why is this so hard for me when everyone else makes it look easy? Am I the only one that has these thoughts? 

The first thing I felt after reading the first chapter in the book was a sigh of relief. Oh.....I'm not the only one. It is surprising how much peace you can find just through knowing you are not alone in your thoughts and experiences. The 'shoulds'. The self-judgement. The pressure. The expectations. The doubts. The comparisons. All of these thoughts and feelings are very real and yet they get in the way of living in the moment, enjoying the present and truly accepting life as it is. Up until now, I kept those feelings inside because I thought ignoring them was the best way not to let them take over, but in ignoring them I am not accepting that it's ok to have these feelings. This book is challenging me to make a huge perspective shift and is helping me realize that the real power lies not trying to pretend these feelings and circumstances don't exist but to recognize them, accept them and smile anyways. This way, I am still being honest with my experience but I am not dwelling on the past or the future.....instead the goal is to accept every thought, feeling or moment, whether good or bad, and find peace in the present. Imperfections and all. Obviously this is easier said than done.....and so every day this month so far I have tried to find a quiet moment to meditate where I am able to practice letting things go. My mantra for the month (in green) gives me something to replace those thoughts with. So when I start to feel frustrated that Alexis is asking to nurse for the 7th time before 10am, I can accept that thought, let it go and then redirect my thinking to something more positive.....like one day Alexis will wean (hopefully before she hits kindergarten) and I will miss these moments with her. These are the thoughts that I want to fill my brain with.  
One of the first lines in the book is a quote by J. Marriott; "good timber does not grow with ease, the stronger the wind the stronger the trees"
      Motherhood is hard. I choose to accept this, and use it as a way to grow. 
Nobody said this would be easy. But letting go of the 'shoulds' and the comparisons is a good start. Every mother will struggle with different things. My struggles may be another mothers strengths. And vice versa. Comparison is the thief of joy.
     I choose to trust myself and my instincts. I know I am enough. 
I am not perfect, but I know I do my best. I will make mistakes but motherhood and life is a work in progress. Focus on being at peace with wherever I am in my mothering journey.  
    I choose to seek peace not perfection.
Expectations are the hardest for me to let go.....for good or for bad when you let your happiness depend on their outcome the result is never good. If I expect Alexis to have a nap and she doesn't I can't help but feel cheated out of something that, really was never a guarantee. And on the flip side if she wakes up every hour one night and I expect the next night to be the same, I am unhappy about something that hasn't yet happened....and may not even happen at all. This may sound familiar to some of you or it may sound completely ridiculous. But I do it All. The. Time. 
    I choose to live in acceptance not expectation. 
I don't want to look back at this time and realize that the struggles with sleep overshadowed the hundreds of sweet moments I got to spend with my baby girl or that I let the feelings of doubt and frustration define me as a mother. 
I choose to count my blessings and find happiness in every moment. When you love what     you have, you have everything need. 

Just one chapter in and this book has opened my eyes to a whole new side of motherhood.  It may be called deliberate motherhood, but in order to embrace this journey and find peace, purpose, order and joy....it all starts with being honest with yourself. So if you are reading this and you relate to the feeling of trying to appear perfect or even just striving for perfection as a mother yet you find yourself struggling alone behind closed doors....please know you don't have to pretend around me! I am not suggesting that we focus on all the negatives, but when you are discussing your day with your closest girlfriend.....maybe don't leave out the time that you yelled at your two year old because she deleted your favourite show off the DVR. Not your most shining moment as a mother, I'm sure, but being honest may just make your friend feel less ashamed that she did the same thing last week. And if you really did have the best day ever, then by all means share that too! I am just saying that, we all know that being a mother is not always easy, so why are we pretending it is? Let's just be real, be authentic and accept that there is no shame in being less than perfect.  We all have our moments and we are all doing our best. 
Honest motherhood. It's the newest thing. Pass it on.

♥ Lindsay

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