I’m nearly two and a half years into being a mom. But come to think of it, I count pregnancy, because that is when my mindset began to shift. It’s been interesting for me to see how my thoughts about parenting in general have grown more open-ended since I’m now a parent myself.
Living with a very young person every hour of every day has taught me something about respect for others that I don’t believe I would have learned otherwise. I have always intended to have respect for others. But let’s be honest, it’s easy to create unrealistic expectations for people when we don’t know them too well and then be disappointed when they don’t live up to those expectations – and ultimately, that’s not very respectful. Understanding that we each are indeed a complex combination of traits, preferences, and needs; has dramatically eased my invention of expectations with respect to other people. I’m grateful for that.
When it comes to analyzing a relationship between two people, this need for respect is increased exponentially because now that I’m living it myself, I see how a relationship between a parent and child is a continuous and never-ending stream of moments of intimate interaction between two complicated people. The complication factor is therefore huge. To pick out one moment, or even a few, and arrive at some concrete conclusion about the people involved would be truly impossible. So I don’t nearly as often as I used to and I anticipate eventually wiping that thought process off my slate completely. I’m grateful for that too.
There are certainly aspects to the past three years that I wish had played out differently. There is support that I would have loved to have had but did not and so I figured out my own way to create it for myself. Honestly, those disappointments do sometimes weigh heavily on my mind when I permit. But I’m quicker to recover from such lulls in mental vigilance, because I’ve got important work to do. Motherhood has helped me to be more disciplined mentally. I’m grateful for that.
Now that I’m parenting, and doing it my way. I can see more clearly why certain things didn’t sit well with me – things from my own youth, things that I’ve witnessed. Now I realize it’s simply a matter of preference in most cases. I believe that this is a factor of spending more years as an adult, that we have the opportunity to see things from enough angles to really understand them. I appreciate the insights that I have now that I’ve logged some years as a parent. And I think that I’m building the maturity to form more respectful and compassionate conclusions. I am so grateful for that opportunity.
Being a parent has taught me the necessity of caring for myself first. When I have neglected myself, the results have been clear. Aside from helping me within our little immediate family, this helps me in every other relationship that I have. I’m more aware of where I end and others begin. More often than not, it’s become obvious that the best I can offer is my compassionate presence. Whether it’s somebody practicing Pilates, watching the wheels of a toy car with ear pressed to the floor, or picking out curtain rods, just bearing witness is enough (well okay, a bit of instruction with respect to concepts in the Pilates studio – but mostly I’m observing). Anything more requires a crossing of a boundary which I simply cannot manage while staying true to myself. If that’s not a gift of being a mom, I don’t know what is. For me, it’s been a game-changer for which I’m grateful.
I realize that there is plenty of judgement-free interaction in this world, the sort that reflects people taking simple enjoyment in sharing company with others rather than constantly over-exercising their minds to create mini-theories about other people and their behavior. But there is a lot of the latter and since empty barrels do indeed make a lot of noise, I’m inclined to comment on the topic. And say that I’ve been relieved of a fair portion of my judging tendencies since becoming a parent. For the relief that comes from setting down that heavy burden, I’m grateful.
Today I will revel in gratitude and open my heart to all the goodness that there is to receive. I wish the same to you, dear reader.
I love this post. This year has been a busy one; chock full to the brim with growth for me in terms of dealing with others and developing my relationships. I love what you say here about being burdened by judging tendencies. Judging the behavior of others and looking for explanations that can’t be found is hard work (work I’ve been busy with far too often)! I know that I’m doing the best I can and I’m working on assuming good intentions from others and advocating for myself when necessary.
Thanks for sharing landmarks in your personal process. I feel that the more we share our real stories with each other the more we are able to let go of the ones that we invent in our own minds.