I was speaking to my sister this morning – what a wise one she is! I was sharing how hard I was finding life right now and talked about the standards I hold myself to.
These standards are partly helpful – they guide me to be the best mum I can be to Jenson. But they can also be unyielding and can cause me pain as I hold myself to them regardless of what’s going on around me.
So I thought I’d list out all my standards to take a step back to see whether they’re standards I want to hold onto so tightly.
So here I go!
- Jenson shouldn’t watch very much TV – it’s a last resort when I’m running late, not something to make my life easier
- I need to talk to him as much as possible, a running commentary of what I’m doing if I’ve got nothing to say to him
- I should enjoy all my time with my son
- I must speak French to him – it’s an important gift to pass to him
- I have to be fixed so I don’t pass on my struggles – comfort eating, avoidance of confrontation, people pleasing, lack of boundaries – onto him
- I should be able to cope at all times and never loose my temper with him
- He needs to spend loads of time outside – there are studies about how children aren’t nearly as active anymore and I’m a bad mum if I don’t take him out
As I list them here, I feel such relief at thinking “I don’t need to hold onto these things. They’re not mine”.
And I love what I saw on twitter this morning linked to this very topic:
What if the standard (and definition of success) I held myself to were to model what it means to be a person who puts their wellbeing first.
- About TV, I’d ask whether I needed a moment for myself that morning/afternoon/evening. If so, I’d put the TV on for a little bit. It’s not going to kill him.
- About constantly talking to him, I’d ask myself what I needed in the moment and what my son needed. Some meaningful interaction – singing and dancing, reading a book, chasing around – or some time in silence as I walk somewhere or just potter around. Both are ok. I’d know it was about balance.
- About enjoying time with him, I’d ask what I needed to enjoy my time with my him. And that probably is an acceptance that it’s not going to be enjoyable all the time (especially when I’m playing peepo with him for the 1,000th time, that shit gets old!)
- About speaking French, I’d continue to speak French to him – my imperfect, messy French, because it is a gift that I’m keen to pass to him. But I’d also look out for other French parents to hang out with so I don’t feel so alone in it.
- About worrying about passing my issues onto him, I’d know that worrying about this wasn’t doing me any favours in dealing with them, so I’d speak kindly to myself and remind myself that it’s not the whole truth. I’ll pass on some of my habits that I’d rather not pass onto him, but I’ll also pass on the good. My passion, my ethical compass, my love of cooking, my book wormery, my kindness, my strength.
- About coping, I’d know that I’m not able to cope all the time and that it’s ok. The most important thing is showing him how to get back up. How to apologise when I shout at people or am short with others and self-kindness to myself when times are hard.
I’d know that I’m doing my best. My god-damn best. And that’s all that is important.
And as I read this, I feel overcome with emotions. I feel a relief knowing that life can be different.
That I can rewrite my story.
And yes, I’ll probably fall as I try to do the above, but that’s part of it, right?
Falling down but then getting back up and trying again.