Twenty-six years ago today was one of my greatest life’s experiences, my amazing son was born. I have teased him for years about how he had a head the size of an orange… and now at 26 he is, of course, much taller than I am, and a grown man.
I think back to those days of being a new mother and I see how I’ve changed over two and a half decades. Back then, I expected my son’s father to know what I needed. I felt shy about asking (even though I felt very challenged by my new circumstances) because I thought that if he really loved me, he’d just know!! How many of us have made that mistake of believing that others are mind-readers? Part of it was that I didn’t want to be a bother (I have a long familial history of that one!) and part of it was that I thought motherhood should be a breeze. I remember nursing him every two hours, day and night, and doing all the baby laundry and then feeling bad that the house didn’t look like a show home and a perfect dinner wasn’t on the table.
That was a very hard time in my life. Because of all the “should”s in my life (he should know what I needed; motherhood should be easy etc.) I really didn’t take very good care of myself. In retrospect, I realize that I should have sat down and honestly shared my challenges with his dad so we could have brainstormed solutions together. Instead, I suffered in relative silence and wound up leaving the relationship when our son was 3.
If I’d know then what I know now… things would have been different. Of course we all know that hindsight is 20/20!
How do I handle things today? I am much clearer on my needs. I take steps to do what I need to do to take care of myself. When I have a request of another person, I have more skills to be able to ask in effective ways. When I feel trapped, I recognize that I always have choices. I have communication skills to try to work things out instead of being silent and building resentment until the point I can’t take it any longer… and leave. I have the courage to speak my truth now in a way that I didn’t back then.
These are my reflections today, on my son’s 26th birthday. I celebrate my journey of motherhood although there were many times that it wasn’t easy. I’ve learned a lot about myself and how a growing child’s needs change – and how to be sensitive to that. I really believe that it’s about equipping our children for full functioning in the world.
I’m so grateful for my life’s experiences, counseling sessions, courses, training, reading, discussions etc. that have brought me to where I am today. This is something that I bring to my coaching clients: a wealth of life’s experience and a fierce commitment to self-awareness and growth!