I didn’t really want to do this post but I’ve had so many mothers and even fathers ask me what I did with my kids that they are so “well adjusted and awesome” – in so many words. The intention of this post is to share what I did to be a ROARsome mom with ROARsome children so that more moms can hopefully stop feeling inadequate or weak or not good enough like I did for a long time
This post comes as a bitter sweet wake-up call. Something I thought I would never have to face!
So here goes. Because I have had so many moms ask me for tips to help them guide their young children so that they can turn out like mine I am going to share some thought processes I include in my day that helps me keep the lines open so that I can live a stress free ROARsome motherhood life, just like all moms can. I have also had moms ask me “how I cope” because my family are always smiling … when sometimes I really don’t cope! Thankfully these “no cope” moments are very limited now.
Many mothers express to me their inability to cope. They tell me about times of “insanity” while thinking that they are all alone in it! They think other mothers cope so well and that there must be something wrong with them! I sincerely hope that all mothers who read this post never ever feel alone again and fully comprehend that ALL mothers need support of some kind and more. This is why I started a private forum – but more about that later.
When I had my kids, that all-encompassing protective emotion that exceeds all expectations gripped my heart so strongly that I, with every cell in my being, became determined to provide, protect and create a legacy to leave to my little treasure. I guess all moms experience this. Then I had a second child within the space of a year and I found life pretty impossible. (By the way, breastfeeding as a contraceptive is a lie. Perhaps it works for many but not for all so be careful with your family planning! hehe).
My time and energy was so consumed that I lost perspective and became completely detached from myself as I focused on nurturing everyone around me.
Then I had a third child 5 years after the second and all wheels came off. With all the stress of trying to build an empire and having two small children followed by another baby my body started giving me messages to stop the insanity. Of course I didn’t listen. There were more pressing issues hanging like a sword over my head because I also worked.
As I mentioned, I worked because I wanted to build an empire so that my children will never want for something.
My life was compartmentalised between so many people that all that happened was that I missed out on listening to the REAL noise of my children. Especially my youngest. The last thing I ever wanted to do! So many women struggle to find balance like this and quite honestly I just don’t think women with children should have an 8-5 job … but that’s a story for another day.
To me, the single most important thing in a woman’s life is her relationship with her children.
I make a really huge effort to spend as much time with my children as possible. Everyone that knows me knows this. I make sure that I talk to them about everything and anything that interests them. Instead of forcing them to do something or stopping them from doing something (bar those that are life-threatening) I offer choices and explain consequences. I do everything I can to enable them to participate in various opportunities and creative activities based on their personal interests. I encourage them to express their desires and dreams to me so that I can share possible activities with them that will enable them to prepare for such a future.
I am so proud of my children. I get compliments everywhere on their great attitude, their presence, their ability to communicate with anyone and their ability to pay attention and navigate complex interactions and conversations. In spite of this I still experience some shockers along the way, one of which I will share with you today.
Because I spend a lot of focused time with my children (which I know many mothers don’t have the luxury of) I managed to nip a potential ‘very unhappy child’ situation in the bud. I was shocked that I didn’t even see it until this little one put it right in my face!
My 8 year old (third born) broke down the other day in absolute despair and tears. The only words she could get out was: “Nobody ever listens to me!” Oh shock and horror! Nobody every listens to her? I thought I was listening to her all the time! Making an effort to deliver every minute of the day. Where the heck did I go wrong?
When she finally calmed down she threw it all out on the table (just like all women do! 😅).
She was very unhappy with how she has to make a huge effort to be heard above all the noise of our life. This day she decided it is time to come out with it. She named several things that she was bitterly unhappy with and I didn’t even have a clue that she was unhappy at all!
I sat her down and asked a whole lot of questions. I encouraged her and helped her to be brutally honest with me. She found it very hard to share all this with me but I offered her absolute grace and forgiveness and asked for the same for me.
We established that:
- She always feels so inadequate because her sisters can do things that she can’t.
- She wants to wear pretty frilly and girly clothes but she suppresses it because she knows they get torn and dirty and she feels sorry for me because I have to always fix them or buy new ones.
- She told me about times when she showed me pretty clothes that she wanted and I wasn’t prepared to buy them because they were too fragile and I thought they wouldn’t last. (Shucks that one hurt – I distinctly remember doing that!)
- She explained that her aggressive behaviour is actually preventative rather than inherent.
- She explained that she can’t help it when she breaks things because she is still small and she is so sorry.
- She gasped for breath as she cried and felt bad about being scared at night and can’t sleep in her own room and she is so sorry.
This poor little child was in such a state and I had no idea how we got here. It’s not that I or her sisters gave her a hard time … it’s just that we kind of rushed by with all good intentions and didn’t notice how sincere her wishes were. You know how it is? Mothers running all day long!
Let’s face it. A mothers life is just way too busy and we should be helping each other more. There was a time when I got help. Not in a physical way but in a general questions and answers way. Hence the forum again.
As she sat there in my arms it was my turn to explain. This very sensitive little being never had the opportunity to show her soft little heart.
She really thought she had to be perfect and just accept whatever she was dealt.
Her sisters and I were on a roll and she had to run her little legs off to keep up with the “Jones’s” (being us). We were so busy we just got on with it, never even thinking that she wasn’t keeping up! She never said a word! I never considered that she had to compete – she is so much younger – BUT I also didn’t let her know that she didn’t have to. I made a big mistake not knowing that she needs more encouragement when she does something destructive by accident rather than just reprimand. Not knowing that her hearts desires were not being met. Not comprehending her aggressive outbursts and demanding attitude. Never considering that she was a very very sensitive soul who needs more nurturing than I realised!
I then remembered reading this awesome book written by Hettie Britz called Growing Kids With Character. It helped me so much with my first two but it never occurred to me to reviewed it when my third was born. I went back to it again and yes … this little character has fundamental needs for nurturing because they are born leaders with extreme empathy which they hide behind a powerful facade that they think will protect their softest kindest heart that lies within. A “rose bush”. Thorns and beautiful roses all in one. It was confirmation for my suspicions after this life changing event. (I strongly suggest that any and every mother get a copy of Growing Kids with Character. Just click on the link and order it from Amazon. It’s the best investment I ever made when it comes to my kids.)
The dynamics of our family instantly changed.
Everyone is more nurturing and focused on each other patiently and in a kinder way now. I went out and bought her frilly and pretty clothes that she chose herself. Her sisters are more attentive to her needs and I pay attention to her every day situations and ask her more questions about how she feels on a daily basis. She has improved so much and is so much calmer and our home is becoming a haven of peace! This is why this is a bitter sweet event. The blessing came because she isn’t trying to make her mark through aggression anymore – the only thing she thought to do. And we thought she was just such a kind of feisty person! Wow! How mistaken we, and especially I, were.
This event was a wake up call.
I had to do a serious double take with this event. I had to ask myself …”Are you really hearing what your children are saying or asking for?”
I now make a extra effort to:
- check my daily habits.
- check and ask what has happened in their day.
- encourage them to share great moments and nasty moments that we can discuss. These are precious moments because this is how I can share with them how I would deal with a difficult situation and they can go out and give it a try. They are always free to come back and tell me how it went and we can work it out from there.
- encourage them to be brave. To not be shy to ask questions.
- to encourage them to do their absolute best in spite of jealousy and ridicule. In other words, to believe in themselves and their own abilities and specifically not to compare themselves with others.
- help them be non-judgmental. To always work with their own experience with people rather than what others say about those people. This within reason of course. I help them to keep their eyes wide open and share with them what to look out for and how to deal with what they experience in a pro-active preventative manner where necessary.
- be present in every moment so that I can encourage good interaction and adjust impatience and aggression.
- ask them if they feel that they are being heard. And if not, to specifically sit down and listen. If you do this, you may get a massive surprise like I did … or not.
I got a blow on the chin. And it was the catalyst to doing this blog post since it has been a long time coming and so many people have asked me how I grow my children because they are truly awesome young people.
Wake up call!
Check. Ask. Listen. You might be missing the boat like I did … for a little while.
I often ask myself these very serious questions:
- Are you misunderstanding the desires and needs of your children? Check it.
- Have you been so focused on survival that you lost perspective? Check it.
- Have you missed doing the very thing that you’ve been trying so hard to do? Double check it.
- Are you paying attention to all the interactions between the family members? Check it.
- And most importantly, could the above be YESes without you even knowing it? Ask and listen and double check.
Here’s the cherry on top!
I realised on a deeper level that I was neglecting my own child within. Now I am setting my life up for more play again in a much more surrendering way. This little girl showed me where I was lacking in joy and nurturing and especially emphasised how I was NOT listening to my inner voice – my little inner child. It has been the biggest personal growth lesson of my life and I can add that I am now more stress free than I have ever been. It is a lifestyle. I’m am focused on being a ROARsome mom again.
What a true blessing this dear little child brought me. One of the 5 big loves of my life! Children are so much more than we realise. They should be cherished with all out hearts.
Another Hope is that you internalize the fact that everyone has a mother. And there are so many mothers. Mothers are so intertwined into our existence yet we forget. Let’s find a way to look more positively at each other. No matter what your position or status. Everyone has a mother. Or a mother figure. Whether she was there for you or not. It is through her that you are able to be here. The fertile soul into which your other half can be planted. Mothers grant respect and consideration for mothers. It’s not an easy task to be a mother. And every mother wants to be proud if her kid. So let’s do it for mothers if nothing else. The future belongs to mothers.
Of course I can’t leave out fathers. They are the seed. And we need fathers. We need them to care and be part of us. From my experience most of them do and are. But many don’t and aren’t. We have to remember that we are part of a family. Every one of us. I hope to protect that. As a mother. Like the lioness protects her family – to be a ROARsome mom again.