I have been facing some quite intense experiences in relation to my role as a mother in the recent weeks, and I have slowly but surely started to wrap my head around what has actually been going on within me, and why it has become so intense.
So what I have found is that I have created an delusional, unrealistic expectation to myself to be a perfect/optimal mother to my daughter, really like placing myself on a high horse in my mind and think that I am ‘polished/well-rounded/elite’ when it comes to my ‘skills’ at being a parent. And yes, for sure, there are aspects of parenting that I am kickass at. But of course there also plenty of aspects that I’m not. Every single personal issue I have with myself will somehow compromise or reflect on my parenting in a potentially consequential way. But I had created this delusional bubble of perfection in my mind (which I’ve realized is not the first time I’ve done), and so all my energy went into feeding that and making that real.
What this meant was that I only accepted the positive aspects of myself as a parent, and completely rejected all the negative aspects. So any experience of frustration or irritation or boredom, I would suppress. I would do my very best to sound upbeat, gentle and calm around my daughter, which I find I’ve been surprisingly good at. The only problem was that I started becoming more and more bitter and negative towards my husband.
Obviously it can be quite a turbulent period in new parents lives when a child arrives, but this was something more than that. The more positively I experienced myself with my daughter, the more negatively I experienced myself in relation to my partner – to the point where I actually considered if it would be best if we ended the relationship. He couldn’t do anything right, and I remember catching myself thinking that I would never treat a child this way. Eventually when it became really bad, the thought that I didn’t want my daughter to see or model me being this way towards her father – I stopped.
Looking back at my life, I see that I have been the same way with my cats which I’ve written about previously, and how I became neurotic in trying to give them the best home possible. But I even see how I’ve created similar delusions in the past, as my own made-up way to try to succeed in life (because I had no idea how to do it for real), so I’d create this elaborate fantasy of how I wanted things to be, and then I’d hold, hold, hold onto that as long as I possibly could, only for that bubble to burst as hard as all the daydreaming I had put into it.
So what I did today was that I embraced all that suppressed emotions that I had hidden from myself in relation to my daughter and especially also to being home with her alone. I allowed myself to embrace that feeling of being annoyed or irritated because she’s so wiggly and difficult to change clothes on. I embraced the experience of shear boredom I felt over being isolated at home with my child. And you know what, it was liberating and it was empowering, but more than anything, it supported me to relax more.
When you’re constantly trying to uphold a (totally unrealistic) expectation to yourself, a lot of hard work has to go into keeping that delusion going, so dropping all that, and instead facing what is here, gave me some ‘space’ within, to say the least.
I have realized that I resist just being here with my daughter, and I have admitted to myself that that is a problem and indeed very odd. Why would I resist being here, when I am already here? Why would that be something that scares me, bores me? So what I’ve been doing is, when that experience comes up, I deliberately immerse myself in the HERE moment, whatever it is. And the more I push myself to be here with my daughter, the less bored I feel, and the less irritated I feel.
And I have had this sneaking idea that it is like my daughter being here and me having the incredible privilege of staying home with her, is my chance and opportunity to learn how to be here, because in the past I’ve been able to resist it and blame it on not having time for example. But at the moment at least, I’ve got nothing but time. There are moments, and days where I can’t do much housework because my daughter needs me to be physically close to her at all times. Or I put her in her ‘backpack’ and strap her to my back. And since we live far out on the countryside, there isn’t many places to go, so we are for all intents and purposes ‘stuck’ here (today we went to the little local supermarket just to get out for a bit and see some people) – but maybe that is not a curse, but a tremendous blessing in disguise.
To be continued…