Facing old images is a perpetual opportunity for growth when parenting. “ I’ll never be like my mother!” Sound familiar? After I had my son, I realized in moments that I was turning into my mother. This came to me as a shock! I never expected that I would catch myself spewing my mother’s curse words while picking up spills 15 times a day. I have come to call this another kind of parenting, reflex parenting. At one point I stopped myself in my tracks, and actually looked down my nose to watch my mouth move almost in slow motion as I heard things like, “oh crap”, “GD it” and worse (sorry mom). I called my mother blaming her instantly for this reflex. Another thing I thought I had gotten over, blaming my mother. We had a good laugh.
As many times as I have had, “OMG I am my mother” moments, I have had, “I know that I am not my mother” become very obvious when experiencing my mother’s attempts to influence me toward some good ole’ fashioned child rearing. “Give him a smack” and shaking her head disapprovingly, “ he really doesn’t listen”; as if to imply that I was an inadequate mother even if that was not her intention. I must admit, I sighed with sadness more than a few times with the difficulty of our worlds not meeting. However, just as I know that my mother was certainly a good enough mother for me, I know I am certainly a good enough mother for my child.
Almost 5 years later, as my son grows, I grow. I do my best to remain present with my parenting, over knee jerk repetition of how my parents parented me. While there are definitely some things I will keep from how I was raised, there are new ways I choose through my own education, experience and instinct that work better than my early conditioning. The more I allow myself to notice the “reflex” parenting, regard myself, and my mother, with compassion, and even laugh at myself; the more I am free to continue sourcing the parent within.
I notice that I am maturing with my child as I grow to be the parent he needs. Old images of myself, my upbringing, and reflex parenting will always arise if I am committed to be as present as I am capable of being. I have come to an attitude of celebration of this beautiful part of the human experience, as I move from reflex to making conscious choices as often as I can. I sometimes hear parents that worry and judge themselves too harshly for navigating this journey and making mistakes. It is our evolutionary instinct to change for the better that allows us to evaluate how we are doing. If we get stuck in judging and being ashamed that we are not the perfect parents we imagined we would be, we will hold up this very precious unfolding of our human nature toward progress and healthy parenting.
Photograph courtesy: Infusion Yoga Maui
Image Credit: Cadencia Photography