I’d be fun, calm, kind, gentle, responsive, a good listener, creative, inspiring and was definitely drawn to a more ‘Gentle Parenting’ approach. Looking back that was a lot of pressure to put on myself. Not pressure in the sense that it’s impossible to be that kinda parent but pressure in that you can’t predict the future.
However, your past can be a good indication of the parent you may be and it’s worth thinking about whether that’s a good or bad thing!
As a child there were some elements to how I was parented that I knew I didn’t want for Paisley and even now as an adult make me feel sad/angry/anxious. It’s something discussed often in the news and on social media, how our childhood upbringing affects our adult mental health. It’s sometimes said jokingly that ‘you’re starting to sound like your Mum/Dad’ but what if we want our own parenting voice?
I believe its natural as we grow and become parents ourselves to want to pick and choose our parenting styles based on what we experienced. We will try hard to say, not lose our temper with our children because we remember times as children being scared of Daddy shouting at us again if we are don’t follow the rules, we’ve been ‘naughty’ or accidentally spilling something (for example) but then don’t you find that some days you end up sounding just like them?
Paisley loves being helpful and sharing her food with others (including her baby)
My daughter is wonderful. She reminds me of that every day, even when the nights can get a little tough.
On a good day I am calm and patient, Paisley reacts well to a calm and understanding Mummy. It was this wonderful post from Hands Free Mama on yelling that inspired me early on that I could parent this way and avoid aggression. Even now if I’m around yelling I revert back to feeling scared as a child and it’s the one thing I’ve been keen to keep Paisley protected from.
It was this article that came back to me that day when I came to a breaking point.
Yep, perfect hard working, self employed Mummy broke.
At first we thought it was the sleep deprivation, the numerous night feeds and a daughter who was seemingly struggling at night with something taking it’s toll on me. Was it work? Was it all still too much for me?
Hands Free Mama says “the pursuit of perfection consumed me”. That was it. I was trying to be perfect at EVERYTHING. Mum, business owner, wife, daughter, sister, friend…everything.
I wanted to be the perfect me.
I couldn’t be perfect at everything as much as I’d tried and believed. One day I too went pop and shouted, in the middle of the night after the 6th/8th/10th (who’s counting?) night feed I had to leave her crying in Daddy’s arms so I could go a sob myself downstairs. I have no idea what came over me but I needed the release and instantly felt guilty for raising my voice.
I remember so many times being scared of shouting, scared of being punished and even hit on occasions because I’d done something ‘naughty’. Even now raised voices and aggression can leave me feeling overwhelmed and anxious and I am pretty certain it’s because of those childhood years. Phrases like ‘I was hit as a kid and I’m fine’ don’t stand with me anymore it’s safe to say.
Feeling awful I apologised to Paisley for her seeing me so angry and upset and me having to step away when she needed me just as much. She seemed to understand that I was sad and instantly calmed to give me a big cuddle which made us both feel better. I can already take comfort in me showing her kindness and trying to meet her needs means she can also empathise with me when I’m feeling sad too.
At times of challenging behaviour it takes a lot of my strength to remain calm when I actually thought it would have come naturally to me, what with my little wish list of parenting styles you’d read about earlier. I mean, I practice yoga, did Hypno-birthing, (try to) meditate and am generally laid back so surely it’s a given? It’s not. I’m finding that how you were parented is a part of you whether you like it or not. Maybe there’s only a hint of it but it’s all there.
I shock myself when I feel I’m going to lose my temper as the first time it felt so unnatural and unlike me. Now I see it was always there because of my past. On reflection it’s a lot clearer to see, isn’t it always?
It even took me a while to be comfortable with hugs and kisses because I was never brought up in a family who show affection in that way, another odd one I realised a few years back. I think I’ve gone as far away from that as possible as Paisley will go and hug or hold hands with anyone at the moment! We now have to explain that not everyone wants affection, one of those other children may be how I was back then and I really want both myself and Paisley to be mindful of that.
I also feel I was always seeking approval as a child and that stems from seeking approval from my Dad. I always felt I was never good enough and felt stupid, I’m sure it was his attempt at pushing me to achieve more…
In adulthood this seeking approval manifests itself in my need for perfection. That I am now certain.
2016 has been the year of discovery for me. Having new tools to help me let go a little is helping on all levels and looking at the mental health links throughout my life has been a bit of an eye opener. It’s an ongoing thing and I’ve no doubt there may be a few blips along the way.
2017 for me is all about practising a more patient, gentle and understanding way of life. Not being too hard on myself. Being mindful. Being the parent I want to be…