You Just Have To Show Up
Everyday, all you really need to do is show up and be who you are. In motherhood, there is so much added to the requirements of the job description that is actually just "extra." You do not need to feed your family perfect food, say the perfect thing to teach a life lesson, extend hours in the day to fit it all in, sacrifice your self-care for the benefit of others. In fact, I would argue that doing so is more of a detriment to your relationship with your family members than it is a benefit.
Here is why. If you put yourself in a position where you matter less than someone else, you teach that person to treat you as less than. For children especially, this translates to entitlement and feelings of LOW self worth unless they get what they want. When you show up as yourself, create space for what is important to you, model what it means to take care of yourself, and accept the messiness of relationships, you are setting your children up to deal with the real world AND providing the opportunity for meaningful connection.
Only showing your children a positive side of life does not lend them the opportunity to learn how to cope and rise above difficult life situations. It is our job as parents to teach them what the world is about so they can be well adjusted human beings with social interest and the ability to care for themselves.
I am personally learning this lesson myself.
I used to be so scared to show any emotion other than calm, happy, and content. I would stuff or reject any other emotions so I wouldn't be truly seen. I thought my dark side was bad and unworthy. If I let it out, I wouldn't be loved. As I am learning, like all of you, I have recognized the dark parts of me as gifts. The more I love and accept these parts, the more I love and accept others. I can break down walls of protection that keep me disconnected and perpetuate negative feelings. There are aspects of my humanness I still reject and do not want to look at. However, I know their time is coming and I will be ready to see the truth. It's all a journey, never a destination.
It is exhausting being armored all the time. It isn't sustainable to live a life of hiding. The more you deny, suppress, or reject who you are, the more tired, stressed, and disconnected you feel. Connecting to ALL of you is a way to re-energize and re-balance your life. Connecting to ALL parts of does not mean that you have to love or even like those parts right away. It takes time to build trust in any relationship, including the one with yourself, takes time
So often we armor up to our feelings so that others don't see us breakdown, cry, get angry, etc. It feels vulnerable as hell to have someone bear witness to our emotions, especially when they are raw and fresh. We make the mistake of only showing up in a happy or content mood and berate ourselves for showing even the slightest disappointment, frustration, or grief. Mamas, your children NEED to see you express your emotions. They are looking to you to model emotional regulation and expression. They are looking to you to know how to repair a relationship after a mistake. They need to see you and your partner disagree and then resolve the issue. Of course, there are certain situations they are not privy to such as rage, abuse, putting them in the middle of an argument, parentifying, or neglect.
Love yourself on your brightest of days and your darkest of days.
You can only accept others fully if you accept yourself fully. Otherwise, you just project your rejected parts onto others and punish them for being something you have not yet accepted in yourself.
When someone holds up the mirror to your darkness, Thank them. They are providing an opportunity for you to grow in love and acceptance.