I have seven children. I clearly know that being a parent is a hard job. When people ask me what I do, I always first reply that I am a mother. It is the most important job I will ever hold. It is a hard concept to grasp that many of our actions will have a ripple effect on this other person that is involved in our life.
Along with the work involved there are a lot of benefits that come along with raising children. For me they are a continual source of joy and wonder. There can be no greater sense of accomplishment when you are there to witness a child’s self-discovery. Their discovery can become your discovery, as well. But before this happens, you may question yourself – your motives and actions – as to the efficacy of your methods and if you are really doing the right thing. During this time, please keep in mind these seven things that can calm your fears and uplift your spirit.
- This too shall pass. While this might seem trite at first, there is great truth in it. Your first thought in thinking this is that you just want to get through this phase. But wait – you really might want to take notice of each phase your child goes through. This will probably be the only time your child will go through this phase, and while it might be fraught with emotion, there are things to be learned from this time in your child’s life – for both of you. Make sure to journal each phase, complete with pictures or other bits and pieces to keep in your memories. Believe me, you will be glad you did as you glance back during much calmer times.
- Children are resilient. Actually, to give each of us our due, we all are much stronger than we give ourselves credit for. It is actually healthy for our children to have to struggle to achieve certain things. If we do too much for them when they are young, when they reach young adulthood they will be poorly equipped to handle the stress that will come into their lives. We can be there for our children as a support and to give some advice, but they should start learning early on that they are capable of doing things for themselves. This can start with crawling. We are always so excited for them to learn a new skill, we sometimes take over and do it for them. We need to be patient – with our child as well as ourselves – as they learn each new phase. There is also a great discovery about ourselves as we do this.
- Ask for help. I understand this concept now, more than ever, as my older children have children of their own. You can read all the books and watch all the videos and shows, but sometimes there is something to be learned from someone you know that has been there. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of true strength in yourself, that you have the wisdom to know that there is more for you to learn. Also, sometimes in our lives we need a break, a breather to re-analyze things. That is when you call on those in your life circle to help – whether it be for an hour or a day. To have that quiet time knowing that your child is in competent hands can help you move miles as a parent. And, as your child sees you reaching out in search of help, she will also learn from your example, and know that as she goes through the phases of her life that she can ask for help. I have to admit that I feel great joy when my children come to me looking for help – whether it be on cooking or to help with their children.
- There is always something good. There is always a silver lining, the sunny side of the road. The work is in trying to catch that glimpse of it. I have found that when I feel that I have warped my children for good, and that I am the worse mother that ever existed, I need to take a walk. The fresh air, the movement of my muscles, seems to clear some of the cobwebs. By the time I get back – and on the really bad days that can be a while – I have a different perspective on things. They are not as bleak as I once thought. I have also found that a good yoga session can give me a good paradigm shift. The key is to realize that when things seem bad, there is probably something to be learned from it. Sometimes lessons are hard, harder than we thought. As we breathe through these times, we will find ourselves stronger than ever.
- You’re growing. This builds on the last thought. Just as your child grows stronger with each skill and lesson they learn, so do you. Our children are our greatest teachers. They reflect so much of ourselves. Rather than retreat from it, embrace this with joy. When things happen, ask yourself why, what is to be learned. This is another great reason to make sure you journal. You may want to have a journal that you will throw away when it is done, never to be read again. You can write things in this that you need to release, to truly understand yourself in a loving way. As you grow, you become a better parent, a better you.
- Life isn’t fair. While this seems like a negative thought, it really isn’t. Life has its ups and downs, much as hiking a trail. There will be rocks to trip over, or a limb in the way. But you will eventually reach the summit and see the beautiful view. While we are each individuals, with different talents and skills, we also have different obstacles to overcome to magnify our talents. We all have a trail to take. This is actually the great equalizer. Sometimes there seems to be others that have all the luck and things come easily to them. Know that this is an illusion. If somebody else’s child seems to have everything, then maybe they haven’t learned the greatest lesson – to have hardships that help them to grow into a better human being. One of the best lessons you can teach your child is that life is not a smooth path, that there will be hardships. But they can get over these bumps in the road and be a better person for it.
- You can do this. Sometimes you have to look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself, “You can do this.” Give yourself a big hug and know that you are up to the task. Your child was given to you for a purpose. You have much to teach each other. You are not alone. Your child is not alone. I know you can do this.
While you might be wondering what all of this has to do with feeding your health, remember that the primary way we feed ourselves is through our emotions. When you take care of yourself emotionally, you’ll be ready to take care of yourself physically. You will be able to help teach your children proper health and nutrition, to be their best selves. I know you can do it.