I’ve been a mom now for almost ten years, and I’ve been a writer for more than seven. I’ve been dis-empowered in both for both lengths of time. For years I had it that I couldn’t actually be both a writer and a mom, that if I wanted one aspect of my life to thrive, the other had to suffer. Coming from that mind frame, you can guess what suffered the most.
My kids also got put to the side at times to make room for my writing. As a result I spent a lot of time beating myself up about how unfair I was being to my children, and how selfish it was of me to pursue my dream when that meant I didn’t give every aspect of myself to them. Empowered? It wasn’t even in my vocabulary.
I realize now that me pursuing my dream is exactly what they need to see happen because when I empower myself, I empower them. I had it backwards. I had it that I couldn’t combine the two, when I now see that every aspect of my life can work together in harmony, and my kids can be a part of my team in my writing. They themselves can empower me to go for what I want, and in so doing they’ll see the magic of helping somebody else while also seeing for themselves that anything is possible.
I write this because I know I’m not alone in the guilt that comes with parenting today. We are constantly bombarded with how to be a better mom, how to be a better dad, how to spend more quality time with our kids. We’re also bombarded with the 10 things you should never do as a parent, 100 things you should always do as a parent, and 50,000,000 things you should absolutely-at-the-cost-of-everything-in-your-entire-life-do so your kid never has to suffer or deal with life in any way.
What does all this cause? Guilt and more guilt. Especially to young parents new to this whole parenting thing. Nothing you ever do is right. Any time you take for yourself is detrimental to your children. If you take 10 minutes of time for yourself, be warned that your children will probably be dead by the end of it.
Okay, that’s an exaggeration and I’m being sarcastic, but you get the drift. The result = crazy, miserable mom and sad children.
One thing I want to add before I go on is that I do understand that this has been my experience because I’ve chosen to let all the advice weasel its way into my beliefs of life and how things should run, which left me very dis-empowered. I’m not here to offer advice, just to share the experiences I’ve had and the knowledge I have gained, which I’m hoping will resonate with somebody else.
After living in Mommy guilt for far longer than I want to admit, I came to a few realizations. These insights took a lot of tears, a lot of really long talks with my husband and friends to discover why I live in such a state of chaos. They took long looks at myself and how I was operating, they took looking for where I was being inauthentic with myself and family, and I had to look at what beliefs were behind the scenes running the show. Some of what I discovered was astounding. For example: I discovered that I had a belief that if I didn’t excel as a mother, I was going to hell. Not kidding. My children were my ticket to paradise. When I saw that I let it go immediately, and started creating something new with my children and myself. That mentality wasn’t fair to them, to myself, or any individual living on this planet with me. I started looking at things differently.
One of the things I realized in all of this is what I mentioned above, that my children can be empowered by me, and in turn I can be empowered by them. The second hit me like a ton of bricks when I discovered that while I thought I was helping my children by operating the way I was, it was actually hurting them. I wasn’t present as a mother. I had time with them, but I was miserable and trapped so that time didn’t create any connection or love. It was just existing together. I was also giving them the impression that my world revolved around them and I was there to make them happy. When they’re adults, can you imagine how that would look for both of us? I would either be free and celebrating or miserable because my anchors uprooted, and they may have some strange mentality that it’s all about them.
As I worked through a lot of ingrained beliefs, and discovered who I am as a person, I began shifting how I mother and who I am as a mother. I stopped thinking of all the things I wasn’t doing right, and started looking at all the things I could do right. Things like letting them see that they can be empowered to be incredible people, showing them how to love themselves and others, showing them the value of service, teaching them to respect themselves and others, teaching them to work as a team in our family instead of as an individual where it’s all about them. The list goes on and on and I learn more every day.
Now, my writing is as much about them as it is about me. I’m hoping that I can set an example for them to follow their dreams, and for them to have everything they are willing to go for in life. I want my family, and I want to publish books. I can now have both.