If we want strong, independent and compassionate children, then we have to live that story ourselves.
“Children do what we do, not what we say.”
Ain’t that the truth?
And it’s often an even harsher truth to hear that our children also learn their sense of worth and place in the world from observing our own sense of worth. Harsh, but true.
I realised very early on in my mamahood journey that there were some deep-seated belief systems that I needed to heal before I inadvertently handed them down to my daughter.
And so this journey began.
The only thing we can do as mamas is to ensure we clear up our own heads and hearts so we can lead them to do the same. That’s our only job.
Which is why I absolutely loved this reflection on her own journey of stepping up into herself – her real self – by Patti Williams. With each word, I nodded and smiled. ‘Yes!’ I thought. This is what Happy Mama is all about.
I was never what most would consider to be maternal. So when my own little bundle came into this world 2 years ago, I was surprised how life-changing and love-changing motherhood could be! I didn’t really connect with my purpose until she came along. For some, it comes naturally and has always been so clear. But for me, it happened when she happened.
You see, when she first arrived so too did the second guessing and self-doubt. Truth is, it was always there. As a young Indigenous girl who grew up in a small coastal town, I used to only ever see the limitations, the road blocks and the reasons why I couldn’t do things. The story I was telling myself wasn’t enough anymore.
What I failed to see was this: you get to choose. Live within your current circumstance OR set your own standards and do everything possible to make it happen.
If I believe that I am a poor, Indigenous girl who’s not good enough to do anything meaningful, then all I can ever be is a poor, Indigenous girl who’s not good enough to do anything meaningful.
I wasn’t willing to share that with my girl because she deserved better. And you know what? So did I.
As a Mum, I’d had enough of the endless questions and overwhelm. You know the ones:
How much screen time is too much?
Should we go private or public schooling?
What type of toothpaste should I give her?
How on earth do you raise a decent human being??!!
I decided that instead of letting my mind race with these endless questions all of the time, I would have a new filter: what is my one highest intention for her? For her to be able to create a life that she loves.
Everything else was secondary.
Sounds simple, but no amount of telling, directing and guiding her to this would suffice. In order to teach her this, I first had to live it. And so the questions changed.
What life do I want to create FOR ME? What makes MY heart sing? What brings me joy?
And then I had to go out and make it happen.
Now, when she sees her Mum, she sees someone who is willing to stand up for her dreams and turn it into a reality. She sees a Mum who embraces the challenges life has to give her because she knows there’s a gift of growth in all experiences. She sees someone who listens to her body and nurtures it because it is the vehicle that will carry her through all of this.
My girl will be so immersed and surrounded by this that she will have no other option than to do the same. I had to create a completely new story to tell myself in order for her to hear it, feel it and live it as well.
I shouldn’t have graduated from high school. I shouldn’t have a degree in Education. I shouldn’t have been a teacher for over a decade and I definitely SHOULD NOT have started my own business. Well, according to the statistics.
But my daughter will not believe in those statistics.
Instead, she will know that all you have to do is believe in the seemingly impossible, then take action, every day, to make it so.
It will get hard. It will get lonely. And you will get frustrated.
But that will happen anyway – no matter what you choose. Take that energy and use it to create the life that you want for yourself and for your kids.
So when I talk to my girl, I encourage her to struggle. I clap through the moments when she is trying to get that little shape into the hole that doesn’t seem to want to fit. I thank her for her effort and not for the outcome. One of her favourite things to say at the moment is, ‘Oops. Try again.’ And she does it because she sees that I am willing to do the same. We don’t always get it right. But we stay open to always trying. And we slow down if we need to.
Define your own story, mama.
Set your own standard, then live it. Know that your kids see all that you do. Be willing for them to do the same. And through all of this, know that you are enough.
There is nothing that you can DO or HAVE that will change this. Your self-worth is an intrinsic part of you. You’re the gift. That’s final. This is the story I choose to share with my girl.
Patti Williams is a Teacher, Health Coach certified by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and Trained Demartini Method Facilitator.