Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 30-10-2012
Tags: experiences, honesty, judgement, motherhood, openness, opinions, sharing
I was hanging out with one of my closest girlfriends this morning, and I confided in her that I had semi-regretted a blog post that I had written the night before about yet another night of bedtime drama. I admitted to her that I had started to feel like a broken record, and that I was beginning to fear that people might question my love for DJ. I mean, it seems as though lately all I ever do is complain about the ways I wish I could change her…specifically, her relationship with sleep. I had started to wonder if the people reading my blog ever sat back and thought, “I wonder if she’s stopping to appreciate all of the really wonderful moments.”
I was half-tempted late last night to remove my post. Or, at least follow it up with an addendum listing all of the incredibly wonderful things about DJ’s personality. I had started to doubt my candor, and had begun feeling as though publicly sharing yet another raw and honest moment about my frustration and exhaustion was a poor choice. Had I written enough loving, adoring, gushing posts? Would those positive stories be enough to balance out the hard, hard challenges of late that I share ad nauseum so honestly?
In talking with my friend this morning, she said something that really struck a chord with me. She said, “I’d like to believe that 99.9% of mothers love their children with their entire being.” Yes. Yes, most mothers on this planet will lay down their lives for their children without hesitation. Most mothers will go to the ends of the earth and back to provide for their children. Most mothers will sacrifice things that the rest of the world could never comprehend (like their very identities, or their dreams) for the well being of their children. Most mothers would go without so that their children would never have to. Most mothers do love their children with all of their being – so why then, do we doubt that love? Why do we worry whether or not others can see the depths of our own love?
My friend and I decided that when it comes to motherhood, opinions must be replaced with experience. We realized that it’s the opinions coming from our other mommy friends, from the mom strangers at Target, from our own mothers even, that cast that shuddering shadow of doubt upon us.
“I wouldn’t dream of sleep-training my baby until they’re at least 6 months old,” makes the mother who was forced to place her baby in a crib for medical reasons, feel as though she’s viewed to have loved her child less – that her baby’s best interest wasn’t at heart.
“I would never feed my baby formula,” makes the mom who just couldn’t produce the milk to nourish her baby feel like she’s failed – and I can guarantee you that she’s already beaten herself up plenty, cursing her body for letting her down.
“Your three year old should not still need you to help her fall asleep at night. Guess she never learned to self-soothe,” makes the mother who has hired various specialists, and who has sat up crying night after night, feel as though she’s not equipped with the inherent skills needed to successfully parent. She worries endlessly about what else she might not be able to get right.
“I could never put my child in daycare,” makes the already conflicted working mother feel ashamed that her family depends on her income, or feel selfish for rightfully, and otherwise unapologetically, recognizing that her career fulfills her (thus making her a happier, and better, mother for her children)
“Your daughter would do better in a Montessori preschool, because she really has a hard time at school on the days you volunteer,” makes the already exhausted mom worry that her very presence is interfering with her child’s development. As a result, she questions her involvement in every capacity of her child’s life, and fears that she’s somehow hindering her child.
These statements are simple opinions, but they can sting another mother in profound ways. We don’t always stop and think about how our words can impact someone else – especially with regard to parenting. 99.9% of us just want what’s best for our children – and 100% of us have our own unique experiences. I think that if we spoke more from a place of sharing our experiences, and less from a place of trying to force our opinions – then the unspoken bond created through motherhood could increase its power ten-fold.
If I, we, could feel comfortable and safe sharing our darkest moments (even if they are a seemingly broken record), and could be met with encouragement and empathy – then we’d stop losing so much sleep replaying conversations (or blog posts) over and over in our minds and wishing we had only mentioned the good stuff. And while the good stuff is awesome, and necessary, and our most favorite stories to tell – we have to also find the courage to talk about the other stuff.
We have to be good listeners. We have to stop offering our opinions. We must meet our fellow mom-sisters in the depths of their heartache, their challenges, their fears, their insecurities – and we must share our own experiences. Truthfully. Without fear of judgement. From our hearts – where that undefinable, infinite, and relentless love for our babies lives.