Sunday, 8 May is Mother’s Day in the United States.
If you are a mother, do you find it to be a stress-free experience?
If you have a mother, did she find parenting a stress-free experience?
Motherhood has been the primary vehicle for my own personal growth.
In fact, I got my first coaching certification in order to relate better to my oldest child.
It’s one of many gifts my children have invited me to open.
Their presence asks me to consider: “Am I willing to face my own mental garbage in order to avoid passing it down to them?”
Hell, yes, I am.
I am one of the most happy, most laid back mothers and I delight in my (quite nearly perfect) children.
And that’s the result of effort over time.
I was a controlling, stressed, fear-full parent even though I was well-prepared for the job.
I was the oldest of 5 kids, spaced out by marriages, and I got a lot of hands-on practice with babies.
I was very comfortable with the care of an infant human. I took to new motherhood with excellence.
And I was also mentally a hot mess, with undiagnosed complex PTSD ticking like a time bomb.
But I came out the other side a changed woman and one heck of a mom. How?
Here are the highlights from my own coaching journey into stress-free motherhood.
First, get to know your thoughts and assumptions about motherhood.
Imagine the phrases “good mother” and “bad mother.” What comes to mind for each?
WHY? Where do those beliefs come from?
It’s well worth taking a few minutes to examine what you believe to be true about being a “good” mother.
Notice whether your definition would have been the same for a mother in the United States in 1972 or 1922 or 1872 or 1772.
It helps to be aware whether the definition you have for “good” mothering increases your stress.
What if you assumed it was awesome and stress-free? What would that be like for you?
Second, observe your mothering behaviors and expectations.
In general, how do you show up as a mother?
How do you expect your own mother to show up?
What are your behaviors when it comes to dealing directly with your kids?
How do you expect your kids to behave most of the time?
How often is stress the result of a clash between “I wish…” and “Things should…”?
Do your expectations for yourself and others result in a stress-free experience?
Finally, decide for yourself how you want to experience motherhood.
You set the standard for what kind of parent you want to be.
Most importantly, you set the standard for how you want to feel, in general, about being a mother.
Here is a list of possible mothering “characteristics” – choose your preferences and add others that come to mind:
If we think about being perceived as a mother, we consider other people’s opinions, including our children’s opinions.
But…what do you want to think about yourself as a mother?
All may have opinions about what kind of mother you are, but your own opinion of yourself is yours to write.
For me, I choose
- Curious about these young people I see developing so near me. I have the best seat in the house to see how they evolve! What a treasure!
- Authentic when sharing myself, my values, my opinions and my failings/learnings. I want my kids to experience a multi-dimensional version of me.
- Prepared to teach them what they aren’t likely to learn anywhere else. We have reviewed wills and power of attorney documents, investment statements, and had frank talks about relationships. I want them to learn but also see me as a resource in the future. My eyes are on the far future for them…and about creating a relationship that lasts for decades long after they have become adults (and possibly parents themselves!).
I love being a parent and it literally gets better with each passing year.
But that didn’t come naturally. It’s the direct result of coaching myself hard and with bold, tough love.
Happy Mother’s Day to each of you! I hope you, too, experience the joy of stress-free motherhood.
P.S. I invite you to fall in love with my podcast, “Less Stress, More Fun.” Subscribe today! Each week’s episodes are short (14-18 mins, on average), smart (lots of research) and fun (especially if you love 80s music).