Humbleness

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from being a parent is using my willpower to walk the path of humbleness.

Being humble doesn’t come easy to me. It hurts to have to look at yourself honestly and admit you’ve been making things worse. This self reflection doesn’t come from a place of judgement or being self-critical. It isn’t about feeling guilty, although that is a very easy place to get stuck for me. Maybe this doesn’t come easy to me because I don’t like feeling incapable or inept. I know I don’t like feeling like I’ve caused emotional damage. It’s much easier to not look in the mirror and just keep doing what you’ve been doing.

But easier isn’t always the right path. Sometimes we must use our will power to ignore our ego and turn the light on so we can properly look in the mirror.

I’ve been struggling so much with my older two children. There has been a lot of conflict between them and some between me and them as well. Self-reflection isn’t something I enjoy doing, but the fact is if I want to help us move past this, it is a necessity. No, I’m not responsible for their choices , words or actions. But, I’m responsible for my words and actions and I cannot deny that how I act affects not only the situation, but the whole family. In fact, the only person I can control is me.

So I’m doing what doesn’t come natural to me, and what hurts to do, and that is self-reflection and being humble and willing to learn and change my own approach.

I’ve had this book in my stack of to-read books for a while and just haven’t gotten to it. If I’m honest, I will admit that I’ve been putting off reading it because I knew it would make me have to face mistakes I’ve been making, and that’s uncomfortable. I’d rather avoid that. But the time has come to face that feeling and be humble and willing to be open to growing.

One practice that gets me through these uncomfortable growing pains is self-compassion. Being kind to myself and talking to myself the way I’d talk to a friend in my shoes. It is what helped to pull me out of some very dark times in parenting a number of years ago.

Parenting never is dull. There are always opportunities to know ourselves more and grow.

Enduring

Sometimes the path is hard. It feels hard to put one foot in front of the other. The bushes along the path scratch up your arms and legs. You stumble and trip on the rocks on the path. You fall down and cry. You sit in the middle of the path, sobbing.

You also know that you must go on. You know that the path won’t always be so difficult and you must put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward, even if you don’t progress for a while because you keep backtracking to see what exactly led you to this hard path. In the end, you’ll get there.

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My planning is done. Everything is tidy. Our first day of school begins today. Grades 1, 4, and 10.

Last night was very hard. Parenting teenagers is not for the faint of heart. My first reaction is to cancel today and feel angry and sad about my plans being derailed. But I know my other children would be so upset to not begin, they are so looking forward to today. And I don’t want to wear the martyr hat. So, I remember I’m the captain of the boat and I put one foot in front of the other and navigate into unknown territory. I let go of expectations and just jump in and see where it goes.

I’m sure tonight I’ll post plenty of pretty pictures that will make some out there feel less-than or jealous that I have it all together. This is why I’m sharing this blog post. I think sharing our struggles, the truth behind the pretty pictures, is a gift to others. We are all human. We all have our struggles and fall down on our face sometimes. It’s easy to pretend it’s all roses with the internet. But the truth is: life is hard sometimes. Parenting is hard sometimes. Mothering can sometimes makes you feel like your heart has been ripped out. We must endure and push forward. Feel it all, give ourselves a hug and keep putting our feet down for the next step. That’s all there is to do.

Saying YES

What a whirlwind these last two days have been. And through it all, I am given constantly two choices. Accept the moment, whatever it is, and say yes. Or resist it, be angry it is happening, annoyed it is happening and see how that helps. Because, I know. I know too well. Resisting only makes me more at odds with what IS and thus more conflict arises from me (via my thoughts or words or actions).

I can be thankful for it all, and sometimes I can actually manage that. But you know, I’m human and need to remind myself later  when I’m reflecting back on my day, to be thankful for such abundant opportunities to chose love, to find peace amongst the chaos.

Self-compassion.

Saying yes.

Awareness of my body. (Which I do my literally placing my right hand on my chest. It can almost instantly bring me back to my body and to the moment.)

Forgiveness (usually, that means self-forgiveness).

These are the cornerstones of my spiritual practice as I do this mothering thing.

I don’t honestly know how I made it through mothering all these years before I knew about self-compassion. Wow. It has changed the ball game for me. To actually talk to myself in the way that I would talk to a dear friend who was struggling…that is powerful stuff. It sounds simple. And it is. But, it is powerful. Because sometimes literally *all* I can do is say to myself “This is so hard, I’m sorry you are struggling right now and I love you.”, whilst I have children screaming at each other, not even hearing me, while I hold one back from the other.

Saying yes. Yes, I actually sometimes say it out loud. Like, yes, even though I have a child who is in the middle of a temper tantrum about I’m-not-even-sure-what and he’s scaring the younger two, I also now need to go clean up a broken mason jar full of fresh veggie juice from my driveway. In case you are wondering how that looks, I took a picture. It wasn’t top priority, and didn’t get cleaned up for quite a while that morning. But, I just said yes.

image

Self-forgiveness. Whoa. Yes. Because sometimes I don’t say yes. I start resisting and then words just spill our of my mouth at my kid that I totally didn’t mean to say but I’m swept up in the wave of annoyance or whatever. Then, before I can even get to a place to reconnect with him and apologize sincerely, without that apology laying more guilt into my own self image as a mother, I need to forgive ME. This has probably been the hardest thing to do. Forgiving myself doesn’t come naturally to me. I didn’t see it modeled as a child, and I don’t think it’s really something we even do in our culture. And it still doesn’t come easy for me. I must consciously remember I need to do it, and even that can take a day or two, while in the meantime I get swept along the River of Guilt.

I used to really, sincerely think that if I parented “right”, my kids would grow up without issues or poor self-worth, or baggage of any kind, really. Ha! Aren’t we all so naive before we have kids, or when our first child is under age 3? Now, I get it. There is no magic formula to raise children who don’t have some inner work to do. This is the work of life: to experience it, and to have those experiences give us some work to do! As a parent, I can only do one thing: the best that I can. And when (not if) I mess up, I forgive myself, apologize to my kid, and endeavor to learn and grow from it.

I’ve so much more to write, but sleep beckons. My gratitude that such a thing as sleep exists is endless.