UNCONDITIONAL LOVE & ACCEPTANCE
The last few days have been hard. While missing my mother never goes away the quiet simmering beneath the surface bubbles up and over around holidays, big life events, during quiet solitude. Today while I was showering I caught myself thinking about my mother when I was caring for her just before she died … it felt like another lifetime as if it were a movie. I then caught the thought “I can’t believe she’s gone”. Even after 5 years I sometimes can’t believe and sometimes don’t want to believe that she is gone. It twists my mind up thinking about her in the past tense. Over the last 5 years I’ve become conscious of how these thoughts and emotions affect me, I am gentler with myself for it. But sometimes I forget and the extra time I usually take to acknowledge this energy shift or the extra moments alone become thinned out and so does my compassionate way of parenting.
Lately I’ve felt myself becoming impatient. This morning my soon to be 1 year old woke around his usual 4/5am time slot. I asked my husband to take him downstairs before he woke our soon to be 5 year old. I knew if she woke she’d want to hang with her brother and that would mean an exhausted girl for the rest of the day and that would mean big emotions. Being exhausted myself I didn’t dig that idea but alas, the cards were dealt and we had a household awoken. Mama wasn’t impressed. I asked my daughter to stay in bed with me and she was happy to until our very vocal dog began to bark after having had her morning pee and wanted back in. So up went my daughter and down went my patience. Thankfully I allowed myself a few minutes before heading downstairs after the clan and I was able to get a teeny-weeny bit closer to accepting what was going down. I went downstairs and turned on my faithful, dependable, gorgeously generous coffee machine ~ without whom lots would be impossible.
So I got to thinking as I began a new batch of pancakes. What is it that leads me to impatience? And what is it that leads me to think wanting my child to adjust to suit me is ok? I realized it is my inability to accept myself unconditionally. I judge my faults ~ I put faults in italics because they are faults based on opinion not truth ~ and I judge my triggers so harshly that when I see something happening with my daughter that brews a self-rejection response I don’t truly accept her either. The self-rejection response isn’t a loud pounding yelling within myself, it can creep and lurk behind the scenes without any hint of it. It just lingers manifesting into nail biting, clenched jaws, a racing mind. So it can be tricky to realize it all falls on how I love & respond to myself and has absolutely nothing to do with what is happening in front of me. Nothing. And when not addressed it can compound until an eruption occurs. This isn’t a usual thing thankfully although I did notice my trying to control things the last few days (control = the illusion that exists to distract from an unsettled nagging feeling within). This was a big wake up call again to re-evaluate what was happening within me not what was happening with my daughter.
I intend to write out the things about myself that trigger a clenched jaw or a subconscious disapproval of myself then I am going to fully embrace them. Like big embrace. Full on hug and sloppy kiss embrace. I’m going to love up my faults & triggers so much that when my children do anything that would otherwise result in a reaction I will be reminded to look at them and speak with such love & compassion they won’t have a chance to internalize anything but unconditional love & acceptance. In loving and accepting my less-than-desirable’s, I allow myself the chance to let them go.
If I don’t accept myself unconditionally how will I ever be able to accept anyone else unconditionally, especially my children who are the people who really need that? And if I don’t accept every last bit of my kids then how can I truly love them fearlessly without judgment? And what does accepting every last bit of my kids mean? Wouldn’t it be lovely to not have to work past our opinions of behavior and just love our children without conditions or judgements?
I will love & accept myself unconditionally and hopefully as a result my children won’t have to learn how to do that in their 5th decade like I am.
Brené Brown’s The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto hangs in our kitchen. I had it framed when my daughter was still an infant. It spoke so clearly to who I wanted to be as a parent, how I hoped our family would grow together. It’s a blessing and a great reminder to have compassion for the whole journey; even in the tough moments love & unconditional acceptance is vital. Now I find myself years later enrolled in Brené Brown’s online course The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting: A Wholehearted Revolution , which began January 9, 2017. My growth over the last 5 years as a woman and mother have been immeasurable although I know I have much more to learn & unlearn. I look forward to diving deeper into compassion. I’ll post after the 4 weeks are up with the discoveries I’ve made.
HOW MY MOTHER’S PASSING HAS IMPACTED MY SELF-LOVE & ACCEPTANCE
I was pregnant with my first child when I was caring for my Mother before she died. I got married shortly after she passed. We moved a month before I gave birth. To say I floated through that year in a haze is an understatement. I was on autopilot. Literally. I’m not sure how I survived other than instinct to take care of my baby to be. I didn’t mourn her passing the way I thought I would mourn. I didn’t even know what mourning meant.
I remember the day, the minute ~ well before my Mother died ~ when I realized she wasn’t going to be here very much longer. I was sitting alone at my kitchen table when an overwhelming terror and sadness filled my body causing me to climb on top of my chair and scream a primal sound I’d never made before or since. I had zero control over how my body was processing the sadness and fear I felt. I remember feeling as though my body was trying to get as far away from the earth as possible as if that would change my reality. As if that would prevent my Mother from being ripped away from the physical world.
It took years for me to come up for air from that sadness and anger. I remember the day when things started to change for me. I remember feeling as though I was walking out of a dense dark forest. I didn’t know I was in the forest until I was leaving it. I could see the path leading out into a field bright from the sun, the forest dark. I felt like the skies opened to reveal the vastness & vibrancy of life. Inviting me to come back and find my way again.
Still though I looked outside myself to occupy & distract my mind. I focused on the craziness of the world. I focused on all the things happening around the planet that I had absolutely no control over but helped to surface my emotions, bringing the anger of her death out of me. Bringing the broken heart that lived within me out into the light. Only in this last year or so have I had the strength to see that mending my broken heart was not going to happen. The loss of my mother, the trauma of what happened in her final years will never be resolved. It will live within my being for eternity. That kind of pain does not heal. It does not go away. I learned the only way I will be able to live with peace in my heart was to accept that I would always be sad. I would always cry. I would always feel the loss of my Mother. The shift in identity once your Mother dies is something you cannot prepare for. The person that gave you life, whose body you came from is gone and that shakes the very earth beneath your feet. Today I looked at her bottle of perfume that I have and I cried. And that is OK. I sprayed it even so I could smell her in my bathroom while I prepared for family to arrive. And that is OK. The only way to live with this kind of pain is the live through it. To allow and accept it. Walking with a broken heart you have no choice but to accept all the stuff hidden that you could otherwise manage just enough to get through. And having children you can not hide from it. Not for long.
In accepting my pain and not judging myself for how I’ve worked through this process I’ve learned to love myself in a different way. But I’m still learning how to let go and truly love all of me and I find that really exciting. It’s the most powerful revolutionary act; embracing & loving myself fearlessly & unconditionally. My children need me to be so bold & brave.
If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.
~ Carl Jung