Parenting While Healing
Aaaw, kids. Their adorable-ness knows no bounds and they have you wrapped around their little fingers. These tiny amazing humans that come from our bodies are pure miracles of life. They are wonderful blessings wrapped in perfect bundles of love.
That is until they suck the very life-giving marrow from your bones, all while bellowing out an evil laugh as they climb over your exhausted, non-showered body that lay drooling into your cheerios and milk stained floor!!!
Okay...so I am kidding, of course,...or am I?
In all seriousness, take advice from a mom (me) who continues to learn lessons that I should have learned years ago. Without placing myself on a needless guilt trip, I would have greatly benefited by heeding to the very sound wisdom offered in place of my broken world view. I could have avoided tremendous whoa's if I would have listened to the brave women who graciously offered their advice about my tantrum throwing two-year-old and beyond!
That's why I believe it is important to share my experiences with you, now that I am on the other side of my past, to help you see what I couldn't see all those years ago. (To know my story of childhood sexual abuse read here)
My purpose for this post (and many posts to come) is to help mothers, women, and upcoming women who may be questioning their worthiness to live extraordinary lives. No matter where you're from or how you've been raised, please allow me to offer some insight from someone (with a broken past) who continues to learn valuable life lessons everyday.
As a young woman with the experience of an abusive past and as a new mom 17 years ago, it was extremely difficult for me to see through any other lens other than my past when raising my own family. There are a ton of emotional and mental battles that I've had to work through for many years in order to live a semi-sane existence in the world of motherhood.
I have gone to great lengths to protect the minds and emotions of my children from all pain as much as possible. Of course, we all know this is impossible and I would hear the occasional comment, "You can't protect them from everything". However, as a young mother typically does, my silent internal response to this was the snide and uncharacteristic comment that said, "Watch me"!
I'm generally a nice person, but I was arrogantly determined that my kids would be the exception! I would protect them so that they would not have to suffer through the mental battles that I had to. For example, when they started to become more aware of their surroundings, I went to extremes to protect them from hearing, seeing, or being in the same room when anything about sex was mentioned.
I got angry with people who weren't careful with their words around my kids. Many times, while watching television, I would suddenly flamboyantly wave my arms while making funny sounds to distract them just enough to get the remote to change the channel, or fast forward through an unforeseen risque image on the screen. I did anything annoyingly loud just so I could draw their attention away from the subject.
It literally terrified me to think that their innocent minds would be subjected to the very things that I couldn't escape from as a child. Of course, the more I grew as a person I learned how to overcome more of my past each year. I wanted my children, however, to stay pure and innocent for as long as possible (or forever in my mind), but was that realistic or just wishful thinking? Turns out those wise moms were right after all. (insert a humble wink)
By the age of ten, my sweet daughter knew more than I thought (even before we had "the talk") and by the time she reached the eighth grade, she could have taught a class on the subject! Thanks to public school and the Christian private school she attended for a short time, the very subject I was so terrified of my kids learning about was part of the weekly conversations among peers. (face palm) Silly me for thinking that elementary school aged kids wouldn't be talking about it. That's exactly the first place I heard about the subject as a kid myself.
However, I am happy to say that I am completely free from this fear and am finally at peace, helping my husband raise our children with a healthy respect for people and sex. Together we guide them through many questions establishing proper boundaries and giving them the space to grow into well adjusted adults.
There were other fears that guided my motherly ways as well and it is my hope, if you're struggling with the same fears, that you will avoid the mistakes that I made.
Fear 1: Making sure they NEVER feel alone or abandoned
Keyword - NEVER
This may not sound like a bad fear, but "never" is an impossible and exhausting task to undertake. Please allow me to explain. There is no way you can live your life in a healthy way and still cater to their every need, want, and desire.
No matter what you've been through in your own life...
"You cannot allow your fears to guide your parenting"
No one benefits from you living in fear. To give you even more clarity on this...I was so afraid of my kids growing up and feeling that their needs weren't met or they felt neglected in any way, that I made sure I was available at all times for any reason. I worried about everything. Even when I had to discipline them I worried they wouldn't feel loved. I do realize that many parents may feel this way at some point, but for me the stress about it all was extreme, completely unbalanced and unhealthy. No matter how many people warned me of this way of living and how I needed to "relax, kids are resilient", I was in a never-ending loop of worry, fear, and self-doubt!
Obviously, when your kids are babies YOU are their world and they are yours. These tiny humans depend on you to keep them safe, protected and comfortable in any environment. This is perfectly normal and okay when they're babies.
The difficult part for me was separating myself from their baby needs as they grew. I'm sure this is difficult for many mothers and a completely normal way to feel, but I lived in extreme internal fear with this supposedly "normal" behavior. It was so hard to switch off the horror stories in my head about them not having enough from me as their mother.
I spent every waking (and sleeping) moment tending to their every need, cry or tantrum with little thought as to teaching them how to function without my constant presence, or interference. My husband and I did, however, allow them to spend a couple of weeks every summer with my in-laws . It was nice to have alone time with my husband, but my fears never subsided. Even though on the outside I hid a lot of my anxiety, I still wanted control of what they did and how they did it. It was so difficult to release them from my constant care.
Sure, my kids know that I love them, but fear ruled how I behaved with that love. That didn't make my love for them any less, it just made life more difficult than it had to be...for everyone. I was tired all the time and depressed more than I'd like to admit. I constantly worried about their safety and was always afraid that they would somehow feel that I neglected them in some way.
Thankfully, with the help of my amazing husband, I simply forced myself to learn to trust. A huge block for me was that I didn't trust and I couldn't see it until I became free from these fears. Trusting family, friends and my inner wisdom to help guide me through motherhood was difficult. My broken childhood led me on a path where no one, in my eyes, was trustworthy to care for my kids like I did. Sadly, in our early days as parents, I even felt this way with my husband. Don't get me wrong, my husband is a wonderful father who wouldn't hesitate to give his life for our children. I married a protector, a gentleman and my hero. The problem was me. It's mind boggling just how childhood trauma effects your everyday life well into adulthood. I had no clue that I would be so bound to fear as a parent and take normal situations to the extreme. It was all I knew of life.
Why am I saying all of this?
You can't allow fear to run your life and make decisions for you. Find balance, heal from your fears and begin a quest to be truly happy with who you are inside. If you were traumatized, abused or neglected it can be hard to find the place in your heart where you feel worthy of true happiness, but it is possible even though it may take some time.
True happiness, true love, true freedom and true joy is only found within and it's not selfish to seek it out for yourself. It takes daily effort and a lot of inner work to break free from the trauma of childhood abuse and sexual abuse. It took me most of my adult life to learn to truly love myself and I'm still learning. I was so blind to this concept of loving myself for many years. I had given myself up, my true identity, to protect the ones who abused and neglected me and my needs.
When we awaken to the fact that we've lost ourselves in someone else's life choices, it is up to us to change the direction of our path. We must become aware of our inner world and stop ignoring the pain and allow it to be surfaced. It is up to us to take control of our own life and begin healing from fear and receive love in gratitude and truth.
These are the lessons we're to teach our children. Fear can't hold you bound when you live in true love and gratitude. You may feel fear from time to time, but you'll never be imprisoned by it. Love and gratitude go hand in hand. It is the most powerful healing force readily available to all who seek it out!
Be mindful that your thoughts are producing your actions. You are not only shaping your future, but the future of your children and their children for generations. Your healing is bigger than you! Your freedom reaches beyond this life alone. You are transforming generations by the things you change in your life right now. It's time to adjust to a new way of thinking. It's time to question your current beliefs. What is holding you back? Why do you have the fears you have? Where did they come from? Are they serving you and helping you live your dreams or are they stealing your dreams away?
"You become what you think about all day long" -Ralph Waldo Emerson
One of the most amazing feelings that I have now is remembering and yes, honoring, those times in my life where I lived in such misery. I am living every day in gratitude for the pain I experienced because I am now stronger, wiser, more loving and in tune with my heart than ever before. I no longer give my life away to the things that no longer serve my future.
I'd like to share with you another fear I had to overcome that you may struggle with as well. If you pay attention, many of the fears we have as adults are simply carried over from unfulfilled emotional needs we had as children
Fear 2: Do not communicate FOR them on their behalf! STOP!
In my generation, many parents were still of the belief that "children are meant to be seen and not heard". During holiday meals, when visiting family, the grown-ups went first at plating their food while the kids waited. We were also told not to speak until spoken to. Many people still believe this is the way to raise kids and that's fine, but for me, I wanted to raise mine differently. I wanted them feel heard and respected! I wanted to create worthiness in them, but as usual, my fears took things to the extreme again.
The fear I had of them not feeling respected or heard created their dependency for me to speak on their behalf in many situations. In any of our silly family squabbles, disagreements with others, or the sibling rivalry between our kids, I was the ultimate mediator. This was also due to the fact that I hate contention and just wanted to quickly resolve things for the sake of peace, but most of it had to do with the underlying fear that my kids wouldn't feel heard. For me, this wasn't a small thing. This fear was HUGE as well. I had to learn how to let go!
If you are living by this fear, do what it takes to STOP IT IMMEDIATELY!!!! Bite your tongue if you have to!
STOP speaking for them. STOP explaining to your spouse on their behalf. STOP explaining to your kids on your spouse's behalf!
STOP! STOP! STOP!
Your fear of making sure everyone feels heard is ruining their chance of developing their own voice! You're taking their power away. You're teaching them that they're too weak to speak up for themselves. In reality, that's exactly how I felt as a child...to weak to speak up for myself and too afraid that my voice would continue going unheard.
I get that there are situations where we must speak up for a child when they can't speak up for themselves. This is necessary in cases of abuse. However, on a normal day to day life it is not healthy. Teach your kids how to process and speak up for themselves. Teach them that your home is a safe place and that you will provide them the love and respect they deserve as human beings. Teach them how to communicate and let them do the talking even if they have a problem with you. Guide them in arguments but don't speak FOR them. Don't assume what they're thinking and don't take away their power or their freedom to say what's on THEIR minds.
A powerful lesson that I learned recently is that our children are NOT ours. They simply come through us. Yes, they are our responsibility to help shape them into amazing adult humans, but they are their own person. That certainly places things in a much bigger perspective for me. I'm literally responsible for shaping the world with the people who come through me. They will take what I teach them and use it to shape the next generation. These aren't just your children, they are the future leaders of our world. Wouldn't it make sense to raise them in love and gratitude instead of fear and torment?
"Your past is NOT their future"
Our kids have an amazing opportunity to experience a full and whole life full of love. When you live in a state of fear that they will somehow turn out like you did, you're measuring their future against your past. Stop wasting your life by worrying and stressing. Learn to allow love to guide you, your parenting and your healing.
Are you longing to feel peace and fulfillment while parenting? My dear friend it's time for a change! It's time to realize that you're never going to be the perfect parent and the more you try, the more you'll mess it up. Make the decision everyday that you're going to let go of fear. Accept life's issues as lessons to learn and grow from and get over your guilt! It's time for transformation!
How do you begin? Begin by finding 5 to 10 brand new things to be grateful for each day. That's it! This action step will crack the window of your heart so love can begin to heal you from an "effed up" past. When we find things in our lives to be grateful for we're letting go of the old thoughts and the victim mindset of our past. We gain peace and the empowerment to live the life of a survivor, a warrior, and not a victim.
Become free from your past. Become the greatest version of you. It's never too late to start healing your life. Your family will appreciate a new and greater version of you and so will you!
Thank you for hearing my heart today! I would love to hear from you as well!
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As always, I'm sending you love and hugs today from my heart to yours!
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