With this year’s Mother’s Day freshly behind us, it got me thinking about my role as a mother and the ways in which I do not see the weight of the task ahead of me, and the ways in which I feel I am lacking. This week on the blog, I share the ways in which I feel I am overcompensating as a mother. Have a read.
If you don’t know it already, I am a single mother, I have been for the past four years and for the most part, I am happy and stand in my decision. It is in no way something I pre-planned or even saw coming, had you asked me 10 years ago, but life is like that, right? That being said, I was chatting to a friend the other day about how spread thin I felt and how I was sad that she didn’t have (in my view), such a strong relationship with her father. After chatting some more, my friend proceeded to tell me that certain things I was doing, was because I was overcompensating because I felt this was a lack in her life. And of course, it got me thinking. Was this the case? Am I over doing certain things, because I feel as if I am atoning for the decision I chose to take? Was this a manifestation of my guilt and I simply didn’t recognize it? Oh, the scandale!
“When you feel lost, remember who you are doing it for.”
Don’t Believe The Narrative you Feed Yourself
I’ve thought about it a lot and I realize that the two previous female generations do not have any relationships with their fathers, and this was something I wanted to avoid repeating. I in no way want her to be “fatherless” or for him to be absent, but what I need to keep reminding myself is that it’s not my job. I can only do so much, I can only focus on myself and what I can do in order to ensure she has a safe, happy and healthy home. I can certainly keep the door and lines of communication open, but I cannot force a connection, it’s not my place. Like any relationship, it takes work on both sides, anything one sided will never work. I also cannot try to bridge a gap based off of my past and my own traumas- in any other context this wouldn’t be fair. But sometimes, I can’t help but feel like maybe I am only repeating the steps my mother took in my childhood. I’m wondering if, my daughter is with me far too often, if she needs to have more friends, if I’m failing because I don’t want to play video games with her…the list goes on. Just because I felt like something was missing with my father, not being around- doesn’t automatically mean she is also feeling the same things. I can’t pretend to understand, because that was my experience, but it definitely doesn’t mean it translates to hers or will also be her experience. I am one person, I can only do so much, as much as I’d love to be everything she requires and be able to give her all that she requires, I won’t be able to and to be honest, I shouldn’t have to. There are plenty of things she can gain from our community of friends and family and they can fill-in in ways I cannot and this isn’t a failing at all.
She promised herself better and never looked back.
Sometimes we try to be the very best version of ourselves, all so that we can avoid giving our kids trauma, but I also do believe that we place WAY too much pressure on on ourselves to have all the answers and raise trauma-free children. Although, I am taking active steps to be an engaged parent, emotionally available and open to learning. The fact of the matter is, at the end of the day, to be consistently that, we all know this is unrealistic. Life isn’t smooth sailing and things will test you. Be it inadvertently or on purpose, I will cause some sort of upset with her and maybe it’ll require therapy, maybe it’s only require a heart to heart. But at the end of the day, we have to give children the space and allow them to mess up, we all did. I also need to learn or ask what she desires and not assume it is any of the things I feel she might be missing. Realizing your parents are human too, shouldn’t take to being an adult to really see them for all that they do for your little family. If I can allow myself, I would say- don’t believe the narrative in your head, you may not have someone telling you you’re doing a good job, but the proof is right in front of you. You’re raising a mature, secure, self-sufficient little person, with a kind heart and one that isn’t afraid to speak her truth- that is no easy task.
Often times, I try not to lose my patience with my daughter, because in some ways, she doesn’t have another “parent” receive comfort from. I do know that, this is a lot of pressure to put on myself and that I am in no way perfect and to give her a false sense that I won’t lose my patience is a tough act to keep up. But what I mean is, I very try to ensure that she has a home in which she can and does feel safe, to be herself and to also feel free to not run away from her emotions. Part of building and maintaining that, is also to ensure that I am showing her that humans are complex and not faultless. Last week, we had a chat about the fact that simply being an adult didn’t give anyone license to be never admit fault or making mistakes. I have also had to explain to her that sometimes, as an adult you learn many things from children. So, the idea that I need to be an expressionless, even keeled person around her is not only impossible, but it’s really not a true and well-balanced view on what it is like to be human, let alone and adult.