A letter about motherhood
It is Mother’s Day today in the UK and before I start, I just want to acknowledge all those people who might be reading this with a huge variation of emotions around this day. I know some of you are mothers and some are not, either by choice or otherwise. I know some still have their Mums while some are no longer with us, and I know some will have complicated relationships with their mothers and maybe also their children too. I am sending out this letter with lots of love to all of you, wherever you are on this spectrum.
I recognise how fortunate I am to have my lovely mum still here and my beautiful children and I take none of that for granted. I am grateful for their love every single day.
I almost avoided writing about motherhood at all, so that I didn’t upset anyone. And then I realised that regardless of what I say, all those emotions associated with this day will live in the hearts of those that hold them anyway. And what I say is irrelevant to those feelings. How arrogant of me to think that me not writing something would have an impact on such things. So, here goes.
These are some thoughts on the lessons I have learned from being a Mum.
We are all doing our best. And sometimes that best will fall far short of ideal. And sometimes we will do what we think is best and it will be entirely the wrong approach. And our children may not appreciate that until years later when they reflect. And then maybe they will tell you how their upbringing shaped them and maybe they won’t. As I say often, we can only control our own hearts and minds, we can only work on ourselves. It is the job of others to work on themselves. And depending on the age of the children, that extends to them too. I appreciate my own mother in a very different way now that I have lived through almost 50 years. Naturally, I have gained more perspective with each passing year and therefore much more understanding, empathy and a sense of peace.
We can’t fix others. And when it comes to parenthood that is the hardest relationship to navigate when trying not to fix and rescue. But the sooner you can do your children the service of allowing them to make mistakes, guiding them, but not barrelling in to do it for them all the time, the more confident, wise, and independent they become.
And this doesn’t just apply to children of course, it applies to anyone in your life who might need help. As a coach, I will always try to guide people to their own solutions. Coaching is never about giving advice; it is about allowing others to find the answers within. To hold space for them without fixing. Sometimes people just need you to sit with them in the dark. And sometimes children need that too.
Writing this takes me straight back to a memory I have of my son when he was in his highchair. I wanted control of the spoon so I could feed him his little pot of yoghurt. He was determined to do it himself. It was all over his face. I almost had a meltdown. His father had to take over as I couldn’t cope (diagnosis of PND didn’t come until he was already almost a year old so that I can show myself compassion for this meltdown over yoghurt in hindsight). But I look back now and see how important it was to let him feed himself when he wanted to do it. Messiness and all. He is still fiercely independent, and I could not be prouder of him.
I hope I let both my children be who they are. Not the version of them that I wanted to see. I hope I let go of enough control and exerted the right amount when it was required. From what I see in them now, I think I did. They’re both incredible humans and I am so proud of them.
I suppose the main thing I have learnt is that if you lead with love, you can’t go far wrong. That's certainly what my Mum did and continues to do and I hope I do too.
If you are struggling today, I hope you can find someone to be with who can hold space for you and be with you. As I have often said, I will often draw on the twelve steps. The twelfth step centres around helping others. Is there someone who you can reach out to that might need some company too, perhaps your call or visit might be just what they need; who can you help today?
If you don’t have a mum to visit today, and if that is feeling hard, is there someone else out there who might need your company, someone who might be lonely? Or could you spend time alone and give birth to an idea? Maybe you’re a pet owner and they are your babies, if that is the case, can you enjoy a long walk with dogs in restorative nature? Maybe freedom is your soulmate. Or there might be other women in your life who are incredibly important to you and who you could honour today.
Whatever you are doing today, I hope it is full of love and peace.
As ever I wish you a peaceful Sunday.