by Ashley Ess
There is no “perfect” mother. At least not in the traditional, societal (non)sense. As a mother, you are, however, a perfect interpretation of the unique gifts of your soul.
No two mothers are alike, and that is a beautiful thing! When we look toward others for the model of perfection, we are not honoring our authentic selves. We are living outside ourselves. We are succumbing to the myth. Could we improve on how we react to our child’s meltdowns? Sure. Could we all work on being more present with our children and families? Of course. Should we compare ourselves to the moms who seem to have a handle on the mothering thing so perfectly that we feel like crawling under the nearest dank rock to sulk because we can’t even come close to accomplishing what those moms can? Absolutely not! Oftentimes, as mothers, we are thrust into insecurity due to others’ accomplishments or judgments. And that’s not where we want to be.
So how do we authenticate and ground ourselves in being the mother we were put on this planet to be? How do we interpret the gift of being a mother with acceptance, security and joy? For starters, we must do our research. Books and the Internet are indispensable for inspiration and knowledge but the most important part of research is listening to our intuitions. Your intuition is a treasure trove of reason, creativity and influence; your own unique guiding light. As difficult as it is to access our intuitive gifts amidst all the chaos of the day––smart phones jingling constantly, tantruming children, work schedules––we must find a way. Meditation, of course, is a powerful way to find out what your intuition is telling you. But you may find that you simply have so few moments to secure a solitary spot to relax in where you can dive into discovering the vast repertoire of your soul’s gifts. If you are able to carve out time in your day to do this, wonderful! But in a pinch, in a moment of chaos or a debilitating case of perfection-itis, try doing this: close your eyes, take three deep breaths while exhaling slowly and allow yourself to tune in––ignore the chatter. It is here that we can ground ourselves again. Breathe, tune in and repeat.
As mothers it is more important than ever to support one another. A culture of intolerance has cropped up recently. Among this is the judgment of others’ mothering skills and lifestyle decisions. The dissonance of peer pressure can be deafening; one friend insists you must be “green” and use cloth diapers only while another teases you for being too “crunchy.” The resulting guilt or insecurity can detract from our true purpose as mothers. These are merely “perfection posers,” people projecting their own insecurities on you for no legitimate reason other than to make themselves feel better in the moment. The funny thing is, we fall for it sometimes. We might think for a moment that maybe they do know better for us, even though our gut reaction, our intuition, is telling us otherwise. And the perfection myth perpetuates.
Our varying opinions are important, actually imperative, to communicate but our judgments are not. Offering our advice and the wisdom of our experience or expertise is invaluable to each other; the key, however, is to do it with love. Some of my closest mom friends have varying philosophies and lifestyles; I embrace them all. They are all mothering with intention and I respect their choices. If, by chance, I begin to feel insecure or that I am lacking in an area, I simply tune in and I am gently reminded of my purpose and ask myself, “Is this an area I can improve in? Is this an area that I am grounded in or simply accept?”
Of course it is important to encourage others to make the most healthy and eco-friendly choices, but our suggestions fall short if we forget to convey them with love and then let go. Equally important to let go and not let invade our consciousness is what people think of us. If society in general does not agree that you should breastfeed until your child is four years old, so be it! Your acceptance of your self and well-meaning lifestyle decisions can only add flavor and zest (and change!) to the societal pot.
Being present is the most profound gift you can give to your child. Being the so-called perfect mother is not. Our culture simply does not honor and revere a mother’s unique gifts. If we stray from the mainstream we are often scorned for our lifestyle. But if we ground ourselves, tune into our intuition and just be, perhaps we can begin to shift the collective consciousness. It is in this space that myths are dispelled. Take a breath, tune in and repeat.
Ashley Ess is co-founder and editor of Bamboo Magazine:: Whole Family Living.