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Posts Tagged ‘support’

I shot a glance at the rear view mirror and caught a glimpse of her in the back seat, sitting quietly, staring out the window. I knew something was wrong but she wouldn’t say what it was. I had questioned her a few times throughout the morning with no progress. I decided I needed a captive audience.

So we left a few minutes earlier for her hockey practice than we needed to ‎and I stopped at the drive through to grab a tea. Then we pulled into a parking spot at the arena and I asked her to come sit up in the front with me.

Apparently all she needed was a change in scenery because no sooner did she sit down in the passenger seat than the flood gates opened. She was feeling down, one of those days we all have when we think we’re not good at anything, a never will be. A day when everything seems hard and sad. A day when nothing is wrong but everything is wrong.

When I looked at her face, eyes down-turned and wet with tears I was struck suddenly by the familiarity of it ‎but in a way I couldn’t quite place. And then it hit me where I’d seen that look before. I’d seen it in the mirror.

I’ve felt the very same way, more times than I can even count. Feeling like you’re good at nothing, worthy of nothing, proud of nothing. All too often I try and give advice; try to find solutions to the problems and put band-aids on the cuts and watch from a distance as they heal, even with myself. But this time I tried to turn all of that off and just say what I thought she needed to hear; to say what I wanted to hear when I was feeling down on myself and stuck. ‎And when I thought about what I most wanted to hear at those times, I opened my mouth and said, “I will always be a fan of you.”

She looked at me with questions in her eyes so I asked her if she knew what that meant. She shook her head ‘no.’

I told her I would always be the number one cheerleader of her life. I would always keep track of all of the amazing things she did and does and will do and when she can’t remember them, I will remind her. I will always scream the loudest and yell the longest and embarass her with how much I love her. When she forgets how special she is, I will tell her, over and over and over again. When she fails or comes in last or falls on her face I will help her up and remind her how amazing the effort was and help her try again. ‎I will be the voice in her head that tells her she can when everything else is telling her she can’t. And I will tell her she can so loudly and so insistently that she won’t be able to hear anything else. I will be a fan of her.

And when she looked at me this time I could tell that she understood, and that the words I said were the ones she needed to hear. Sometimes her and I are not on the same page, or even in the same book for that matter, but this time we got it right.

We hugged and talked a little more and then headed inside. I smiled to see her step seemed a little lighter, her eyes a little brighter, her face more open than it had been before. It’s a wonderful feeling to find out you don’t have to carry the weight of the world all by yourself.

She scored a goal at her game that day, her first real goal of the season and I screamed so loud you could hear me through the entire arena. And oh the smile on her face, ‎I could see it from a mile away, even hidden behind the bars of her mask.

There is a time and place for teaching, for hard truths and stark realities. She will learn to lose and fail and be chosen last. The world will teach her all of those things better than I ever could and maybe I’ll stop trying to compete. Maybe, instead, I’ll just stand and cheer.

The world is a critic; maybe I’ll just be a fan.

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baby

Image credit: happytag.blogspot.ca

I see you there with your new baby wrapped in your arms, your eyes full of tears and your mind full of all the hopes and dreams you have for them.

As I see you wishing a hundred different wishes for them, I have a few of my own for you – the new mother.

I wish you the strength to trust your own instincts because although you may doubt that you have any, you do. You just need to quiet the hundreds of voices offering a thousand pieces of advice long enough to hear them. No one knows your baby better than you. Trust that, and trust yourself.

I wish you the vision to not lose sight of yourself and the needs you have as a person, separate from the needs of your baby. Your opinions matter, your feelings matter, your wants and needs matter. Yes your baby is important, but so are you.

I wish you a circle of mothers to surround you; women who love you enough to tell it like it is. Not to scare or depress you but so that in your darkest hour, when you sit on the floor of your baby’s room, tears streaming down your face wondering if you’ve made the biggest mistake of your life, you will not feel alone. We have all felt that way. Wrongly thinking you are the only one makes it a hundred times worse.

I wish you the knowledge that every moment, good or bad, is fleeting. This too shall pass, whether you want it to or not. Accept that the minutes and hours will seem endless but the months and years will go by in an instant. There are many moments you will wish to forget, but also so many you wish you could hold onto forever.

I wish you the ability to cut yourself some slack. You can’t do it all; some of the balls you are juggling will fall to the ground and that’s okay. Maybe you’ll pick them up, maybe you won’t. Life will go on whether you finish the baby book or not.

I wish you a group of true friends who knew you before you became a mother and stick with you after. Friends who realize it may take you a few days to answer an email and accept without question why you have to bring your breast pump to dinner. People who know visiting the baby is one thing, but coming over with a home-cooked meal and a genuine desire to fold the laundry is a thousand times better.

I wish you the understanding that happiness exists in moments, but true contentment lasts much longer. There will be moments of bliss so pure that you will literally feel your heart breaking, but they cannot and will not last. If you expect them to, you will live your life in disappointment. Strive for contentment, acceptance, and the ability to wait in peaceful anticipation of the next moment of bliss, whenever it may come.

I wish you the patience to deal with people who criticize and judge. You can’t control how much their words will hurt, but you can control how long you let them sting.

I wish you the wisdom to accept help when it is offered. If someone wants to cook you dinner or do the dishes or change a diaper, let them. Doing everything yourself does not make you a better mother, and at the end of the day, you’ll be the only one keeping score.

And most of all I wish that one day you will gain the confidence to realize that you are doing a great job at this motherhood thing; no matter how loudly the voices in your head try to tell you otherwise.

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Everyone has seen the picture by now: the cover shot on TIME magazine showing the woman breast feeding her toddler while he stands on a stool in order to reach her. It’s everywhere. You can’t avoid it even if you try. And believe me, I’ve tried.

And everyone who sees it has an opinion about it which was exactly the point when TIME decided to run the picture. I don’t think they did it to create meaningful discussion about parenting, I think they did it purely to create controversy and sell magazines. Not that I can blame them – it is a business after all – but it bothers me nonetheless.

I first saw the picture when someone on my Twitter feed retweeted it. It took me a little while to enlarge the picture on my phone enough to actually figure out what it was but once I did, I felt like I should be mad about it.  I should be mad about the picture, about the headline, about the pure exploitation of the whole thing.  If I don’t agree with a woman breast feeding a three-year-old then I should feel angry about that; if I do agree with it then I should be angry about the slant that the headline takes.  I felt like those are the feelings that were expected of me; and when I realized that, I also felt manipulated, and sad.

I felt sad that once again, in a world with so many questions without answers, problems without solutions, we have turned our attention instead to judging how people choose to live their lives and raise their children. Their children. Their. Own. Children.  And it was done, I believe, specifically to perpetuate the great division between mothers; to place us on different sides of a great parenting divide where we apparently have no choice but to shoot harsh criticisms at each other about the choices we make.

As Twitter, then blogs, then tv and news media began to light up with reviews, rebuttals and righteousness, my sadness grew. The predictability of it all became too much. Want a surefire way to create controversy and sell magazines, newspapers or books? Talk about breast feeding, or co-sleeping, or vaccinations, or epidurals, or working/stay at home mothers. Pick a side, publish half of the story and stand back and watch the sparks fly.

Why must we fight each other over which way is ‘best’? Why can’t we just support each other, as parents, as mothers, as women?  Why do we feel it necessary to justify the very personal decisions we have made to the extent that we dismiss the ideas of others?  It’s great that we are able to share our opinions and beliefs about that which we hold dear but when opinions are given with the specific purpose to make others feel bad, small and worthless, they’re no longer opinions, they’re judgments.

I have spent the last few days contemplating buying a copy of the magazine so I could read the article in the interest of forming an ‘educated opinion’ but I decided that would just make me part of the problem. Giving TIME my money would be, directly or indirectly, showing my support for the continuation of the “motherhood divide” and although my voice may be soft, my money speaks a bit more loudly.

So I’m not going to give TIME my money; instead I’m going to give it to a shelter in my area that helps mothers and their children escape abuse and start new lives. I’m going to use that money to help a woman on the road to feeling better about herself rather than spending it to encourage mothers to make each other feel worse. It’s not much, my few measly dollars, but it’s what I am choosing to do with it.  I am choosing encouragement over division; support over judgment.

Motherhood is hard. We’re all doing the best we can.

Maybe one of these days we can finally just leave it at that.

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