Thursday, May 19, 2011

I'm a Mindful Mother!

Today I came across a very thought-provoking blog by Monica over at Holistic Mama.  She described three types of mothers:

1. "Natural" mothers who live solely for their children and are absolutely fulfilled by the role as mother.
"They can do copious amounts of floor-time, and usually experience empty-nest syndrome. They don't concern themselves much with their own needs. They tend to form friendships almost exclusively with other mothers and enjoy talking about their children."
2. "Also" (my word, not hers) mothers who see their mothering role as only a small part of who they are as women.
"They love their children but feel best with them in nurseries, schools, or with nannies/childminders. They don't spend hours contemplating the impact of their choices on their children or analysing to death their child's behaviours. They have many personal needs. Alone time is either for creativity or simply 'me time'. Their choices tend to go with the social (family or larger community) flow."
3. "Mindful" mothers who are conflicted between their innate need to personally do absolutely all they can for their children, and their desperate need to meet their own personal needs simultaneously.
"She spends a lot of time pondering her children and their lives. She analyses her choices. She is not content with having someone else raise them (sometimes, to educate them). She wants to be with her children but she can't sit through lengthy floor-time. She has many personal needs and sees all the needs of her child. She desperately needs to give expression to other aspects of herself. Alone time is almost always for creativity (in the broadest sense). She is not fulfilled by her mothering role. She is a mindful mother, but she is more. She often struggles with the conflicting aspects."
As I read the first description, I immediately felt myself to be a "natural" mother.

Before Kaya I never felt completely satisfied with life.  I was always searching for more but never knew what "more" was.  I spent years studying and training to be a psychologist but in less than a year of working in the field I realised it just didn't resonate with me.  So I left and spent several months driving a campervan around Australia.  I came back and started studying to be a naturopath while flitting from job to job and country to country.  I worked in government administration in Australia, as a teacher in Japan, as a cashier in a theme park, as an entertainment host on a cruise ship, as a secretary, as a massage therapist, as a personal assistant to a Captain on another cruise ship...  And then, while trying out life as a resident of Turkey, I became a mother.

Finally I felt a sense of satisfaction.  Everything in my life became about Ky and for Ky.  Every book I read was about parenting.  Every website I browsed was about parenting.  Every thought I had and plan I made was about parenting.  Because I was breastfeeding everything I ate, drank, smelt or touched was with Ky in consideration.  And every other minute of the day and night was spent with my baby - baby-wearing, co-sleeping, breastfeeding.  And I felt more satisfied with life than ever before.  But.  But.  I deep down I felt a kind of emptiness.  I felt lost.  I felt like I'd lost myself...  And I felt guilty for feeling this way...

Back to Monica's blog.  When I got to the third description my heart skipped.  This was me!  Exactly me!

I do constantly agonize over every little decision I make for Ky.  Have I researched 'this' enough?  Do I have the skills or experience to parent like 'that'?  Is this really the right way when mainstream tells me it's wrong even though it feels right?  Maybe I should study this a bit more?  He wants me to dance with him to the same song for the eleventh time but I really feel like writing or reading or sewing or painting...    I need to think of a new sensory activity for him, but I really just don't feel like going to all the effort right now... Do we have to walk around the block again?  I'm so tired...  If only he would sleep a bit longer, I really need this quiet time for myself...

It's true that I'm not completely fulfilled by my mothering role.  And I certainly am a mindful mother.  But I am more than a mother too.  And after reading this blog and seeing the many many many comments by her readers with similar feelings, I finally feel understood.  I feel a sense of belonging.  I'm not alone in feeling conflict between being the "perfect" mum and wanting more for myself.  Somehow reading Monica's blog has allowed me to feel more comfortable admitting to myself that I want more and it's okay to want more.  I should not compromise my Self.

I've copied Monica's declaration below.  Isn't it just perfect?  I've also printed out her words to remind myself of the importance of being an authentic parent both for myself and for my child.

Mindful Mama - Authentic Self
: a declaration 

Parenthood is a gift.
I have many passions.
My child is my heart.
I am a multifaceted being.
My child's needs come before my own.
Not 'in place of' my own.
Nothing is a sacrifice.
I choose to do from love.
I am there when my child needs me.
I take space for myself.

Mindful Parenting

I value every aspect of my child's world as soulfully, spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally significant in his development as a person.
I think about and weigh up challenges, issues, and potentials, as well as small daily living, and its impact on him.
I make decisions that I feel are best for my child but might be challenging for me.
I move towards an ideal of parenting.

Authentic Self

I express all that I am, without apology.
I am open and flexible with my opinions, philosophies, and beliefs.
I relish the perfection of my imperfection.
I do not compromise my Self. 
I live noone's life but my own.
I do not ignore my passions or what brings me joy.
I am mindful but not obsessive as a parent.
I allow myself a full voice (I weep, grieve, shout, laugh, as I need to). 
I recognise and honour every aspect of myself  (woman, creatrix, writer, mother, soul...)
I make challenging decisions from love, instead of guilt, obligation, or martyrdom.
I respect everyone, I help many, I nurture some, I please myself. 
I don't demand that I reach an ideal.
I let go what no longer works for me or adds to my soul. 
I recognise that authenticity is everyone's right - what is right for me or my child is not the same for everyone.


Monica said... [Reply]

I'm glad this brought you something, it's why I shared it. Although I never realised just how much it would touch others. Just so many of feeling lost in a gap.
I'm always moved by each mother's story.

And we have so much in common btw!
I studied psychology (then fine arts), then travelled around Australia, then did a assortment of jobs, then qualified as a reflexologist, then moved to UK and now Montenegro!
glad I'm not the only nutter. ;)

p.s, Holistic Mama (just couldn't get the url)

Colette said... [Reply]

Monica! Isn't it interesting our similarities! Must be why I often feel such a connection with your words - I love your blog.

Thank you again for your post.

ps. I've fixed the "mama"... sorry about that.

All the very best to you!

terence said... [Reply]

Beautifully expressed big sister. It has been inspiring to see how dedicated you are to Ky's journey and the strength you show in maintaining this path in the face of those challenging you.
It is a reward for me to be able to observe this and I am excited to see the surely wonderful grown man that Ky will become.
Much love to you all!

Colette said... [Reply]

@terence Awww Tez, thank you! I look forward to seeing the wonderful man Kaya will become too! Love you!