I remember all those mothers in whom I confided as I stood around playgrounds, or on my home phone because I couldn't "get out," discussing how frustrated and half-alive I felt when the kids were running raging fevers and the doctors advised me to wait yet "another 24 hours observation and we'll go from there" (screamingly annoying). Just give me the damn antibiotics I'd think, in desperation for one good night's sleep!
Obviously at midlife most of us have moved on to another time in our lives and I miss the park days and the social bonding times of young mothers sharing all the joys (first steps, words, and cute sayings) and pains (sickness, physical hurts and rejections) of those special times when the kids were young…and then, not so much as I remember that almost trapped feeling, hardly ever seeing a movie, regularly having cold dinners, less sex, too little, if any romance and most of all the constant sleep deprivation.
So now as my children are into their teen years and I have more freedom I sometimes wonder what happened to the wonder years of mothering. Whose hormones are worse – my daughter’s or mine and is this freedom temporary? My daughter is in the teen roller-coaster highs and lows of love and romance and I'm in the throes of starting hot flushes and peaks and valleys of a relationship with myself. A rather sensitive household at times as we navigate our respective cycles of life.
Mothering is to date the most difficult job I have ever undertaken and yet is the one I am most proud of. Strangely enough, it doesn’t take pride of place on my resume, website or other social sites where you can have bragging rights of showing off your education and achievements. In most salaried jobs your work is validated by evaluations, bonuses, salary increases; you are head hunted by organizations competing for your skills, expertise and contributions; and yet the most important job I have done is not “paid.”
Last year I mentioned to my husband that in 15 years of mothering he’d never told me that I was a good mother. I didn’t realize that I indeed needed his approval for all those years and that the painful awareness stung when I saw a text to his new girlfriend of 2 weeks, post our separation, telling her that she was a great mother and how lucky her child was to have her in his life. Mothering is not something I knew I was doing well. I naturally compared myself to other mothers and was often insecure. My painful lesson was learning that I needed to have asked for reassurance in the past, and the newer lesson was not seeking my worthiness from that situation. I learned to stand deeply in my own sense of self. Thankfully, we live in a country where our contribution is valued equally and I have huge gratitude for that.
When I decided to have children, I never realized just how challenging it would be. There is no badge of honour or salary. I often wonder why it is that society has chosen to criticize the woman who carefully considers this massive change in her life and decides for many reasons it seems, not to have children. For women who are longing to mother and simply haven’t found a partner willing to co-parent, or the desperate woman who’s had In vitro after In vitro with no luck…midlife can take a tricky turn of events if you feel you don’t have your own life under control or are making the wrong decision. I think it’s difficult for women not to attach their self worth and identity to their mothering role.
A reminder for myself looks something like this:
Finding the connection with my forgotten values and my meaning and purpose grounds me.
Challenging myself by asking how I balance my current mothering role that is generally more demanding than rewarding, and still maintain my integrity.
Enjoying my Zen moment when I can cherish the sweet hug or the “I love you mom” and truly savour the fact that I’m doing an okay job.
Freeing myself to be who I am, frees my children to be who they are becoming.
Stepping into being whole makes me the mother who honours myself at every phase of my children’s lives (after all, they did not come with an instruction manual, so we do the very best we can in the moment and trust in our intuition).
Life coaching ironically came into my life at a perfect time. It taught me the skills to create and trust in myself. That I have all the resources within myself and that tapping into my instincts was part of the wisdom of being the mother I am. I’m fully capable, confident and assured of my children’s abilities to navigate through life, because I know I have given them loving guidance and tools to take their own independently chosen paths.