I am committed hook, line and sinker to helping moms navigate motherhood with more ease, grace and joy. There is nothing more important than raising another human being in ways that brings out the best in them and YOU. BUT, we are plagued by myths in our pursuit of motherhood… our society narratives are killing us and turning motherhood into something like a “survival of the fittest” kind of experience, instead of one that is nourishing and truly fulfilling, AND leaving our children struggling. Let’s look at some of the myths of motherhood and life and learn how to “unfollow” them!! I’m not ashamed to admit… I fell for all of them and struggled. I didn’t know another way, thus the narratives prevalent in our daily experience (what everyone was doing) became my default and made motherhood, and life, so much harder… until I learned how to go within to listen to my own voice and create a new path for myself and my children. I hope my experience, and what I learned as one by one I “unfollowed” these myths, will help you not live by these myths one moment longer… your joy, peace and love for life awaits!
1. If I do everything right I won’t mess up my kids.
Talk about pressure! Who does everything right? NO ONE. I tried and crashed and burned!🤦♀️ And who is to say what is right or wrong? The reality is you will mess up, you will do something that your kids will say messed them up or has them feel that your choice wasn’t in their best interest etc… It is going to happen as you are human and raising a human being with a different point of reference about life. If you mess up, clean it up. Repair the damage, say you are sorry, figure out what went wrong, learn and make changes. Our kids will learn from our mistakes as much as you will. No one escapes unhappiness and pain. It’s part of life. As attentive as I was of trying to be my best and not do something my children would feel hurt by, I did do things that hurt them, minimized their feelings, left them feeling misunderstood. It’s painful and it hurts. We don’t mean to do anything hurtful, but our unconsciousness comes out when we least expect it. Once seen, you can then pick up the pieces and share a bit of humanity with your children so they too are freed up from doing everything right and can make amends when they mess up. Let go of doing it right, and just do what you do with love and compassion. 🙏🏻
2. If only there was a manual or someone telling me what to do I’d be fine.
I used to wish for a manual thinking everyone was going through what I was going through so surely someone wrote a manual to follow (now a-days there is Youtube for everything under the sun, but still no manual on how to be a mom). Nothing could be farther from the truth than you needing a manual. Every relationship, especially the parent-child one, is unique and will bring out unconscious needs to be worked through. This is really the beauty in the parent-child relationship… a mysterious bonding that has the power to heal and end generational patterns that don’t serve us anymore, AND create new experiences that bring out the best in YOU and your children no matter what society says to do or not do for all the future generations to come. It is as if our children came pre-programmed to bring up all the situations we thought “would never happen.” These situations happen not to test us, but to help us grow and learn. Our children come into the world after us, bringing in new possibilities to help us grow as much as we help them grow. Motherhood is as unique an experience as each of our fingerprints are unique. Your children will show you what is needed to be learned by you to be the mom they need for them to flourish. What they need is also what you need… but perhaps didn’t know it. Thank goodness our children (and life) show us how to parent if we are awake to the gifts they bring us.📖
3. Motherhood comes naturally and effortlessly.
Not so for me, but for some this may be true. I have run across moms who do seem to just know what to do and think motherhood is effortless, but it’s not like that for everyone. It’s a myth we are told and it can be a big shock when you find yourself so successful in other areas of life, but motherhood. Let me say I did not get the memo that motherhood needed different skills than I learned to succeed in the work place, and for years I struggled feeling ashamed that I just didn’t have what it takes; feeling I shouldn’t be a mom, and thinking all the time I don’t know what I am doing! Motherhood is one of the hardest jobs on earth, with so many twists and turns your head spins, but if you relax and learn to trust you have what it takes and you just need to find a way that works for you and your child, then you’ll naturally find your way. It’s a bumpy ride for sure (buckle up), but you will find your way if you stay the course. Besides, there is no “get out of jail free” card in the game of real life. Jail meaning pain and struggle we seem to put ourselves behind the bars of as a way to learn. The way out is the way through and you can’t sidestep this. Just don’t give up trying, don’t expect it to be easy and give up doing what everyone is doing. 😜
4. Just do what I do, it worked for me so it will work for you.
Oh how this one did a number on me. And in today’s Instagram world there is a fix, a 5 step plan, a “do this” guide for everything. Instead of helping you it often time leads you down a slippery slope of self-doubt and blame as you find it doesn’t work for you or your child. You wonder what went wrong and blame yourself for not knowing what to do. What I have found that works is to be a scientist and try many things and trust your gut to give you feedback. If you feel an approach to solving a tricky situation doesn’t make you feel good to try it, don’t use it. You know you and you know your child better than anyone. Trust your own intuition more than what worked for someone else. This is not to say there is wonderful advice and books written to help all kinds of parenting situations and they can be a source of comfort. I read plently of them! I’m just saying you still have to “try on” the advice and experiment with it until you find what works. When I was growing up my mom said that the parenting advice of that time was “don’t hug your children too much as you may spoil them!” Ha! Talk about a society narrative that is a myth. My advice, be a scientist, challenge the status quo, and find a solution that works for YOU. 🤓
5. Motherhood goes by so quickly, you need to enjoy every moment.
Says every mother, yet no mom enjoys every moment, really. You are a mom for life. You are your child’s go to person for life. The universal concept of “mom” is comfort, joy, peace no matter what is happening… right? There is no stage better or worse than another as at each stage you will be challenged and you will enjoy it… forever and ever. I will say, what works better than to try and enjoy all of it all the time (which is impossible) is to find the silver lining in each phase and be able to let go of the parts that bring you frustration, or “pick your battles” wisely as they say and return to a place of peace. Time goes by quickly no matter what. My experience has taught me that to stay in the present more than wishing time away (or secretly wishing this phase would just go away) is a more graceful way to embrace motherhood. There are so many situations that come up and so many things that you won’t agree with your child on, so make sure you know where you won’t cross the line and where you will widen it, and don’t go to war when it is just a battle in the moment. This kind of approach will bring more enjoyment overall than constantly living from an expectation that you have to enjoy every moment as time is going by quickly and you feel guilty you aren’t enjoying it like everyone is saying. Present moment attunement is key to making time feel like your friend. Savor each moment for “better or worse” is better advice than enjoy each moment. 🥰
6. Our children’s poor choices reflect we are poor at parenting.
This one is a bit trickier. I do feel that our children can make poor choices if they see us make poor choices. If we don’t try and learn from our mistakes and our children continue to misbehave and act out and make poor choices, then get some help to help yourself make better choices. What I feel is truer is most poor choices children make are more a matter of the child not understanding how to handle their feelings and so make choices that aren’t in their best interest and this is how they learn. While we as parents are trying our best to educate our children on how to handle their emotions and feelings, there are just not enough ways to know what the child is feeling as they often don’t know themselves. So when a poor choice is made look underneath the action and see what unmet need was not met. This doesn’t make you poor at parenting, it makes you honest and genuine. There is no way you can prevent poor choices in anyone, so ease up on yourself and when something happens dive in and explore what is going on that isn’t seen directly. There is always an unmet need somewhere that needs a way to be met in a healthier way… that is more the truth than you are poor at parenting. You and your child are wired differently and experience things differently and if you recognize this early on and realize your child is not doing this to annoy you or make you frustrated, then you can “be with” what is happening instead of “reacting to” and assuming… which never ends well. And what I’ve experienced is just before a breakthrough is about to happen there will be tension and poor behavior… like a struggle inside happening before the birth of a new level of awareness for you and for your child. 🦋
7. Your limits are the reason you feel frustrated as a parent… something is wrong with you.
Well, yes we all are limited in some way shape or form. And limits aren’t wrong or bad, just something to be recognized. We all have limits and limiting beliefs. But our world has changed drastically leaving us all floundering more than flourishing as limits on anything seem to be non-existent. We are having to deal with way more issues than our parents ever thought of, and we have no time to learn new ways in our 24/7 go go go world. There is a big gap between what you know and what you need to know to raise a child in today’s world to be able to thrive, but it isn’t your fault or due to your limitations. It just means you need to recognize that you need an update… like our mobile phones get updates all the time… well we too need some new “operating software.” So instead of blaming yourself or getting angry at the world, try and learn new skills. The skill most needed is self-awareness… the ability to live more in the present moment awake and aware to what is happening without reaction. It is more likely your lack of self-understanding that leads to feeling frustrated and this can be remedied. You can learn what triggers you, what has you not be your best etc.. And this self-awareness will then inform how you parent and you’ll find a more harmonious relationship with your child. Self-awareness is key to being able to flourish as a parent.💐
8. The relationship with your partner will grow and you’ll be a team.
Well, to have a happy relationship with anyone, with or without children in the mix, takes work and conscious effort. Having children in the mix will have you bump up against your pasts and what worked for you or didn’t as children, and then you’ll debate which way is best, and then it will all fall apart as your child continues to create more demands, and you’ll sit on the floor having a tantrum of your own wondering what happened. But don’t despair. Instead, expect children to put strain on your relationship and know that you will have differences and want to parent in different ways. This isn’t bad news, this will actually help you both grow and learn how to be in partnership (partnership is when all individuals are working toward mutual goals but perhaps in different ways and that is ok). There is no right way to be in relationship and to be a parent. Don’t listen to how others are doing it or what they say is good or bad for you, your partner or your children. Truly do what works for now (stay in the present), work on moving towards what you want in the future, and give each other grace. So many times in my own life my husband and I disagreed on what to do or how to handle things with our children. We simply choose to respect the difference and see that each of us had ways that worked for us, but not necessarily worked if the other tried to do it. So if one of us felt strongly about something we’d try it and see and adjust as needed. Many times I found myself saying to my children, “Well your dad feels this way and I feel this way” and we’d offer both options. This helped our children see more than one solution and that good partnerships are a give and take and require mutual respect, no make wrong. Phases and stages will pass and your children will grow out of stages, and then you’ll do it all over again in the next stage. You will be a seasoned relationship expert at some point if you keep looking for what is needed at any given time, stay open and present… as present moment awareness is full of insightful gifts.🤩
9. Other moms are your allies.
Oh how I wish this to be true more than it is not. While there are moms who truly support each other and help each other out (I have many mom allies), the truer reality is moms compete and want to do everything right and look like they are in control or risk looking like the misfit. Just as kids compete for friends, athletics, grades etc, moms compete for attention too I’m afraid to say. And every mom will do things differently so you can’t compare your motherhood journey with any other. A better way to embrace the mom reality is to pick moms to be your friends not because your children are friends, but look for moms who want to grow and learn and not do it right or do it all. Find your allies in common values and human compassion not competition and popularity. It will save you a ton of heartache. I created Meaningful Mom groups when I first became a mom and we shared the values of growth and learning and held monthly lunches to help each other grow and flourish… this is a wonderful way to experience motherhood with other moms.😍
10. Do everything for your children that wasn’t done for you.
This one will make you crazy. This myth comes from feeling like you were short-changed somehow in your own childhood; that you didn’t get to do things other kids were allowed to do or weren’t able to purchase things other kids had etc… This myth goes against the way life works as in life is going to give you the circumstances needed for your own growth and development, thus you will get what you need, not necessarily what you want. But no one tells you this and now you as a mom will tell yourself that your children will not go without or you will bend over backwards or bust the budget to give your children things and activities you think will give them what they need… as everyone is doing it so it must be good to do or to give. What to do instead? Be present. Do and give with moderation and help your children, and you, learn boundaries, budgeting, importance, priorities, big picture perspective and that life is not a compare and contrast exercise. It’s about learning how to get one’s needs met in ways that work for your circumstances, and experiencing life as a beautiful, magnificent place to use what already exists in ways that meet the needs. When we indulge our wants, we don’t teach life skills of patience, working towards outcomes, appreciation and how to be ok with someone saying “no.” No is not a bad word, it is a word that helps you make choices so what matters is what is front and center, not placation of wants and whims. I am certainly guilty of this. I grew up without a lot of things, we did not have extra money for extras of any kind and my parents were not home a lot. So I did the opposite of my childhood experience and soon realized that I was not doing anyone any favors. I was parenting from a perceived sense of lack instead of abundance. I “unfollowed” this myth and taught my children how to earn and work for what they wanted and helped them see that to get what they want also meant they had do what was needed first to get what they wanted. 🏻
11. Keep your children as busy as possible so they don’t get into trouble.
I can’t tell you how many times this was said when my children were young! “Idle minds tend to wander and get you in trouble” others would say. So they kept their children so busy they never had time to think for themselves. They went from one planned, organized activity to another, like a robot with a scripted punch card. While I am not saying children won’t get in trouble with idle minds and hands, they can, what I am saying is be aware of the conditions this myth sets up. It inadvertently can make you, as a mom, feel like you are giving your children activities to stimulate them and help them experience life, yet you also teach children to follow and not lead. They never get a chance to slow down, connect to themselves and learn to self-guide their inner yearnings as we are over-riding this with so many pre-planned activities. Also, be aware that we often times do this because we don’t know what to do with our children to “occupy” them or we are too busy and over-scheduled ourselves to spend time with our children just hanging out together. Ultimately we need a balance of activities, down time, boredom and creative endeavors that pop up when nothing is planned. Over planned and over scheduled leads to dysregulated nervous systems, lack of self-awareness, and a lack of connection to oneself… which causes more trouble than an idle mind. Connection to self is the reward of a less scheduled, yet safe and structured, way to spend time doing nothing… just you and your children getting to know each other! 😊💕
In conclusion, every one of the myths listed above applies to life as well as to motherhood. Life and motherhood share similar experiences. Both are full of uncertainties, both need tender loving care to be given and received, both give you what you need, not necessarily what you want, and both embrace mystery, awe and wonder. For me, one is the other as I can not separate them. It took me becoming a mom to really learn how to create a life I loved as I learned to give myself what I needed.
When I looked at my children and saw how magnificent they were, yet untouched by the world, I wondered how on earth was I going to raise them to know their own magnificence and how to live a life they loved? I didn’t know how to to do that for myself… so I set out to find a way that I could love my life and my own magnificence so I could teach them how to do it too. Such a meaningful way to experience life. Not easy, but definitely worth learning how to “unfollow” the myths, connect back to me and find a new way… this new way I call THE BE MEANINGFUL way.
P.S. If you are wondering what to pursue as ways to live your life if you “unfollow” or “unsubscribe” to these myths, remember last months newsletter gave you 10 Meaningful Ways to live your life. You can get the self-assessment by clicking on the link you see at the bottom of this post.✨