Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mothering the mother

I have found another great "mom" website: firstourselves.com. The site is dedicated to helping moms take care of themselves first so that they can be better parents & partners to their family members.

Here is a post that I really enjoyed called Mothering the Mother:

Mothering the Mother: How to Feel Better About Yourself as a Mother
One of the greatest gifts that we can give each other is courage. "I believe in you," is a token phrase, one that we share often and easily. But saying that you believe in someone is more than just an attempt at a pep talk. When we say I believe in you, what we're doing is
holding onto a higher image for another. We're sharing our vision of who they can be---how we see them, through our eyes---to enable them to grow beyond their own.
"I believe in you," is more accurately said, "I see you." I see who you really are. I see you through my eyes: through the eyes of love. And this love renders you wonderful.
How often do we honestly see ourselves as mothers? Do we overfocus on our moments of weakness; underfocus on our successes? I'm thinking of the times when I berate myself for not measuring up, for not being a perfect mother; for losing it and yelling at my children; for succumbing to fatigue, overwhelment, or irritation, and sputtering, "Because I said so!" instead of offering a gentle reply. Some days, these feelings pile upon one another, forming a cloud that blocks my perspective, and I feel heavy with regret. I feel like a terrible mother. My biases, regret, judgment, and experiences are tempering how I see myself.
But let's turn this perspective around: let's imagine a friend, a sister, or even a stranger observing this series of events. Imagine a loving guide accompanying you throughout the day. What would they say about you? How would they see you? Can you view yourself through their eyes?
What about your children? Have you ever stopped to ponder how they see you? Have you ever looked at yourself through their eyes?
I'm thinking that they believe you're a queen. A goddess. The most beautiful woman they've ever seen. The woman they love more than anyone else in the world. A wonderful Mommy.
(If you have teenagers, and you're laughing at this point, think about how your children looked at you when they were little. Adolescence isn't forever; this stage---doesn't every teenager despise their parents at one point or another?---will pass.)
There's a line in a Nikki Giovanni poem, "Love in Place," where she remembers a time with a former lover, and the joy she felt then: "I see the old photographs and I am/smiling and I'm quite sure/happy but what I mostly see is me/through your eyes." Isn't that beautiful? Seeing ourselves through another's eyes---through the eyes of love---takes us out of our perspective of ourselves, which is often clouded with too much self awareness; too much judgment. We're so much harsher on ourselves than we ever are with other people. Would we ever say the things that we say to ourselves to a friend, or loved one: You're a terrible mother. You're a fat cow. You're a piece of crap. You can't do anything right.
Let's try this instead: let's view ourselves through the eyes of love. You're a wonderful mother. You have a beautiful, curvy body. You're beloved, divinely created. You do so much right.
Gene Kelly once said, "You don't love a woman because she is beautiful. She is beautiful because you love her." It is love that softens the edges, that smooths our rough parts, that allows others to see the essence of who we are, to see our beauty, to see our kindness, our compassion, our selflessness---even on the days when they're clouded by stress or fatigue.
I believe it was comedian Chris Rock we spoke about "loving the crust of somebody." Not just the soft, white, chewy bread, but the hard crust, too; the crumbs.
Your children love the crust of you. God loves the crust of you. Your family and friends love the crust of you.
Do you love the crust of you? Stop, pause, and move out of your perspective. Remove your criticism,and see: Can you see yourself through the eyes of love? Can you see yourself from your children's eyes? Meditate on that perspective throughout the coming week.


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