I’ve been a mother for twenty years.
This day in March 2002, my first child was born.
As we celebrate Harvey’s birthday today, I am also reflecting on my journey as a mother. It’s bittersweet.
Looking back, there are lots of happy memories and pride, but also lots of regrets and pain. If I had a magic wand I’d go back and change a lot of my parenting moments.
As the oldest of my three children, Harvey got the brunt of my unidentified perfectionism (with it’s obsessive need for improvement and control) and so my Inner Critic tells me he’s the one I’ve ‘damaged’ the most. I know this isn’t the truth, but sometimes it feels very real.
When Harvey was eight I finally realised that my perfectionist habits & strategies were not conducive to being an unconditionally loving mother. But knowing that and changing my daily behaviour are very different things, and there have been some ways of being – my own survival strategies – that have been more difficult to let go than others.
Loving my children with unconditional acceptance is a daily practice – with varying results. The self-awareness I’ve gained as I unpick each automatic reaction has moved me, inch by inch, towards a more conscious, loving and supportive parenting style. I’ve had to unlearn – or at least manage – my own childhood survival strategies in order to love my children for being themselves, and not try to mold them into who my Inner Perfectionist thinks they should be.
Any meaningful and sustainable inner work is impossible without also learning how to be self-compassionate – and this is often the hardest thing for Perfectionists to do. We have lived for years with a loud Inner Critic that thinks being kind to ourselves is ‘letting ourselves off the hook’ or being ‘self-indulgent’.
The truth I now know deep in my heart is that the only way we can parent our children with unconditional love and acceptance is to learn how to bring compassion to ourselves. I know without a doubt that self-compassion has helped me be a much better parent to Harvey, Jassy and Zach and enables me to live with my past mistakes and regrets. I just wish it hadn’t taken me so long to learn this.
It’s not hard to understand why supporting other mums to increase their self-awareness, self-compassion and emotional resilience is so important to me. My Perfectionism coaching, the Voice Dialogue, my work for One of Many, and my Heartspace membership group for perfectionist mums are all part of this mission. It’s my way to make my difference.
In such fearful and challenging times I think you’ll agree that the world needs more self-aware, kind and emotionally intelligent people.
I have all three of my children to thank for being the motivation, the challenge, the reason why I do the hard inner work myself. Each one has challenged me and loved me and inspired me in their own unique way. I’m still learning from them.
Happy Birthday my precious bundle of joy.
Until next time,
Lots of love and compassion