When I was a little girl all I wanted to do was grow up, get married and have babies. I'd always had this strong desire to be a Mum.
I was drawn to babies like a bee to wildflowers, I didn’t care if they pooped, spewed, or cried. I wanted to be around them.
When I was older and had my own space, I had two prints on my bedroom wall. One with a dad with their newborn baby lying on their back, and the other with their baby cradled in their arms with the dad looking lovingly down into the baby’s eyes.
And all my diaries and cards and calendars were Anne Geddes themed with the beautiful babies. Therefore, it was no surprise to me when I had my first son when I was twenty years old and by the time, I was twenty-three I was a mum to three beautiful sons, and it was exactly what I wanted. I have no regrets of being a young mum as I never imagined living life any other way.
In fact, I would have happily had many more children as that was what I felt I was meant to do. When my husband decided that three was enough and had a vasectomy, I was devastated and felt completely betrayed as my feelings on this were not even considered as part of the decision making. It was a decision he and his mother made together without me.
It took me a very long time to heal from the betrayal of that and living my life without having the option to have more children was very hard for me.
As it turned out, I now have a beautiful daughter who was born 20yrs after my youngest son. Kahli was born eight days after my 44th birthday and 21 days after her dad turned 50yrs old.
Our daughter was not planned and in fact in my early 30’s, I had an ectopic pregnancy which resulted in the removal of my fallopian tube and I was told that the other was completely blocked and that the chances of falling pregnant were less than five percent.
So here I was at 43yrs old, my three sons’ grown and living their own lives… and about to be a mother again. Let me tell you I was not prepared for the journey of being a Mum again all these years later. I had closed that door and had moved into being the mum with older children phase (whatever that is).
One thing I decided from the get-go was I was going to do better!
You see, I had so much mum guilt with my boys. I was so emotionally unprepared to be a mum. At the time I thought I was grown up and I did the very best I could, yet it didn’t matter how hard I tried, I failed as a mum, or at least I believed I did.
I was angry, I would yell, I would smack my sons and then I read a book that was recommended to me called ‘Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child’. I regret that so much, but I wanted to be a good mum and I didn’t know how to be, I was willing to learn to be a better mum, and unfortunately the book that I was learning from caused more pain, guilt and hurt than I imagined.
I know what it feels like to yell at your child because you are having a bad day and they are an easy target to release your frustrations on.
I know how easy it is to yell and scream and blame them for you having a bad day.
I know how hard it is to stop yourself from being a bad mum when things are tough.
I know how much I hated myself for losing my shit and saying things I didn’t mean to my family.
I did the time out,
I did the controlled crying,
I did the putting the child down to get them to do as I wanted them to do.
I did the manipulation and control.
I stole my child’s self-worth and inner self belief of who they are so that they would conform to what society expected of me and them.
I was not fun loving and free and embracing; I was strict and controlling and often embarrassed of my sons’ behaviour. They were never good enough, and I did that to them because that was all I knew.
And I didn’t want to do that to my daughter, I didn’t want to do that to another child.
You see when I found out I was pregnant with Kahli, I was already doing the work to heal my own inner child and to forgive myself for being the mother I was.
Because the mother I dreamt of being versus the mother I turned out to be was far removed from each other, and I had so much sorrow in my heart that it disconnected me from myself and my sons. And I could not find forgiveness within myself, and the more I punished myself for being a bad mum, the more I pushed my sons away from me. How did I deserve to have a great relationship with my sons when I was such a bad mum?
Even though having another child so many years later was not expected, she has been such a wonderful gift to me. She has been the medicine I have needed to heal my own inner child and my own self and find forgiveness within me to reconnect with my sons.
It has not been easy; I have certainly made many mistakes and I have no illusions that I am perfect or that there is no more healing to do.
This is what I have learnt.
Being a great mum is not about the child, it is about you. Loving yourself, forgiving yourself, being kind to yourself and saying sorry to yourself and others when you need to.
It is about ensuring that you heal your own wounded child within yourself first, as you are not able to connect with your own children well and with kindness when you are not able to do that for yourself.
Learning to love yourself will not happen overnight, but over time you can learn to see yourself and like yourself.
Our children are always watching us, so no matter how much we pretend that we like ourselves or that we are okay, they see right through us.
Without meaning to, we hear our own mother or father coming out of our mouths, often saying things we hated!
Saying I am sorry can be incredibly hard, yet it is so powerful. Living with guilt is a terrible way to walk through life and it has such a high emotional cost that it steals any happiness that might be available to you. You can start by saying I am sorry to yourself every single time you feel the guilty feelings come up. I am sorry I feel like a bad mum, I am sorry that I yelled, I am sorry that I lost my shit again, I am sorry for behaving like that. I am sorry that I was too busy to be there for you. Keep apologising over and over again and apologise to the ones whom you are hurting, especially YOU. I am sorry I did that; I am sorry that I yelled etc. Own your behaviour, own your mistakes, justifying that you did it ‘because….’ continues the cycle and you want to break the old patterns of self-destruction and self-loathing that comes with destructive behaviour, be accountable, own it and say sorry.
And forgive yourself for the mistakes you made, please forgive me for yelling at my children, please forgive me for being too busy all the time, please forgive me for being in a constant state of overwhelm, feeling angry, hurt, sad, depressed. Holding onto the mistakes you have made and the pain that it has caused will continue to bring more pain and suffering to you. You will continue to make the same errors over and over again as that is what you believe about yourself and if punishing yourself really worked, wouldn’t you be healed by now?
Take time to give thanks for all the good that you do, for forgiving yourself. Thank yourself for turning up for yourself, thank yourself for being kind to you, for listening to your pain, for who you are, for being you, for doing the best you can, for anything you can, give thanks to yourself. Say thank you for simple things, thank you for the big things. Never stop thanking yourself for what you do that is good and right and healing.
I am sorry.
Please forgive me.
I thank you.
I love you.
The Ho-oponopono prayer is powerful and will change your life with consistent action every single day to heal yourself. Do not underestimate the power of prayer. The words you choose each day are what have brought you to where you are now, and it will be the words that you choose from now on that will take you to where you are going.
You get to choose self-forgiveness (faith) or the old negative self-talk (fear). Each day in each moment we choose faith or fear depending on the feelings, words and actions we stand on.
I wish I had learnt this before I had my sons, I wish someone had told me that I did not need to worry about what anyone else thought. That the only person who mattered at the end of the day was me and my sons.
That I was the beginning and the end to my own story of being good enough and worthy enough and loveable enough.
But I wouldn’t have learnt everything I have learnt if that had been the case, I wouldn’t understand what I now understand about how powerful I am as a mother, as a woman and as a leader in my own life and the lives of my family.
As mothers, we hand over what we believe about ourselves to our children. If we hate ourselves and feel unworthy and unlovable and yell and scream and live a life standing on the belief of fear, then that is what we gift to our children. Therefore, it is our responsibility to heal ourselves and to choose in as many moments as possible to stand in faith and love and to live a life that is worthy to pass onto our children.
Actions speak louder than words, but your inner words are what dictates your actions so heal yourself, listen to your pain and do the work to understand what is going on within yourself, it is never too late to start to love your beautiful self.
Today, write down something about you that you like or feel proud of. It might be that you have nice hair or that you are good at spelling. Each time you see yourself in the mirror remind yourself of what you are good at, what you like about you. And over time add to the list, look more into your own eyes, and acknowledge what you do like and most importantly, ban yourself from saying the old familiar nasty comments.