Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What My Children Taught Me

Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning from children

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared the many lessons their children have taught them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Like many other moms, I've struggled at times with my view of myself. It has always been easy to put myself down or to shame myself for not always living up to my ideals, whether those ideals are about my body, my intelligence, my personality, my spirituality and character or any other part.

Right now, my weight is higher than it should be, my hair needs to be colored and styled, my preferred wardrobe is comfy pajama pants and an extra large T-shirt. But you know what? My body has nourished 4 little ones over the last 7 years! They grew inside me, receiving everything that they needed to grow and be safe, and then to make their entrance to this world. Three of them are still breastfeeding! Every day, they are receiving amazing liquid love from my body. I gave birth to a 9 pound, 6 ounce baby with a nuchal hand without pain meds of any kind! I am no athlete, but that is an awesome accomplishment. I have pulled more all-nighters than I ever did in college and still managed to care for my sweeties and do what needed to be done. And my four year old says that I am beautiful. Yeah, I won't be on magazine covers, but you know what? My body is amazing!

Since becoming a parent, I have found abilities I didn't know I had to juggle all kinds of things, to multitask, to communicate with and understand someone who can't speak or explain why she is crying. I've learned a lot about child development, about pregnancy and birth, about breastfeeding, about gentle discipline and more. I've read dozens of books. Most important of all, I have learned to change my thought patterns and erase some of the hurtful messages that used to play in the back of my mind. My children have taught and motivated me to listen to truth. My mind's capabilities go beyond what I used to believe.

I have always considered myself to be socially awkward. Yet having children has challenged me to push myself out of my comfort zone and to reach out to other moms and children. Despite my shyness, my children taught me to smile at other moms, to say an encouraging word to those who seem discouraged. And I really, really hate confrontation, but I have stood up to doctors and nurses, other parents, even at times my own parents or parents in law, when I believed it was in the best interests of my children. They have made my sense of humor grow a lot, caused me to find my voice and confidence and to follow my heart and instincts.

Spiritually, my children have taught me to let go of a lot of toxic things, to seek love, joy and peace much more deeply than ever before, and to be ever more conscious about treating others the way I want to be treated. Their innocence and unconditional love have humbled me and helped me to understand how what we do to the least of these reflects our heart for God. And if we can learn to act justly, love mercy and walk in humility with God, I believe we are where we need to be.

I am not a perfect mom. It is doubtful that I ever will be. And I truly desire to keep growing and learning. But my children have taught me that the person that I am right now is not someone to shame or insult, even in my thoughts. My body, mind and spirit are full of power, love and beauty, in ways that I never would have realized if I hadn't learned from them.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 11 with all the carnival links.)


Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

I hear mamas of girls (especially) talk about how their self-image has changed so much since becoming a mother - that all of the societal pressures we put on ourselves to be beautiful/thin/perfect/etc. just seem so suppressing and shabby once you have a daughter. I definitely feel some of that, even though I have a boy - that I am worthy, that I am a good person, that I don't need to listen to the old records that are embedded in my head since childhood. You'd enjoy Aldort's Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves. :)

Unknown said...

I also had a body-image overhaul during pregnancy and after giving birth. It's amazing how bringing new life into this world makes you appreciate your body for being so wonderfully functional, not to mention beautiful!

Lauren Wayne said...

That's lovely! It's amazing how becoming a parent challenges our thought patterns and even what we thought was an ingrained part of our personality. We just have to step up sometimes and be the parents we need to be.

By the way, I had a big baby with a nuchal hand, too — silly babies!

The ArtsyMama said...

It really is true when they say children change everything. The best part is how they change us for the better and help us to want to be better for them and in turn for ourselves. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story.

Erin @ MultipleMusings said...

I just watched an amazing talk on TedTalks bye Brene Brown and it's about being vulnerable, and feeling worthy. It is so timely for me and addresses some of those issues that we women have about being "perfect". We are good enough. And we need to learn to be happy with that.

Beautiful post. Now I have to look up what Nuchal hand is :). I'm learning every second!

Anonymous said...

I'm right there with you on this one - my daughter has really changed my whole perspective of myself and my life. And for the record in response to your statement "I am not a perfect mom." but oh you are! You're a perfectly imperfect mama made especially for your kiddos :) At least, that's how I see it!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog! It's so true that many people find interests, hobbies, blog writing after they become parents. My 17 month old will definitely push me out of my comfort zone with socializing, getting out, and trying new things-- I just have that feeling! Parenting certainly brings out a new dimension to life. As far as body image, I had the best body image, since I was 13, while I was pregnant as my weight gain was perfect and I didn't feel that I needed to lose the extra pounds, and everyone was complimenting me on my cute baby bump. Nice for a change.