Having children, parenting, the whole family equation, was not something I had given a lot of thought to, so when we had our daughter it was very much foreign ground for me. I felt I was either flying blind or treading water, learning as I went along. I soon learned that nothing I read, watched or googled could support me as much as allowing myself to stop and feel what was needed in each moment.
Although being a new mum, stopping was not something that happened often. Life was busy, fitting in being a mum, working, looking after the household and of course taking care of myself. It was often the taking care of myself part that kept creeping up on me: I felt it was really important not to lose myself in being a mother, that I still mattered and was worth taking time for. It seemed to be a trap that I could so easily fall into if I allowed myself, putting everyone else first, leaving what little time that was left for myself to get dressed, shower or eat.
I very quickly realised setting a routine and rhythm for myself supported everyone and everything. That without it my life felt like one big blur, and that there was never enough time to get everything done.
So I kept it simple, picking a time to shower that allowed me the space to do so without rushing, whether that be with my daughter napping, playing quietly after a feed, or even set up on the bathroom floor watching me. It was amazing how much time there actually was if I stopped to feel what was needed, and included myself in the equation.
I learned to become more aware of the quality I was doing things in, not rushing, avoiding the overwhelm and exhaustion, and to observe: was I with myself in that moment as I was doing something or was I already living one step ahead of myself and had already moved onto the next… my mind always thinking, “What’s next?”
By bringing more focus to how I was, and how I was whilst doing things, I was able to see just how much my choices and the way I moved and lived affected our daughter. An “A-HA” moment you could say – that how I was with me impacted on everyone, and everything.
I saw that If I chose to take responsibility for how I moved and the way I did things, then I had the choice to create a day that flowed or not. I allowed myself the space to not always get it right, to be open to and aware of my quality, and if I was present or distracted: was I simply ticking the boxes, or was I feeling what was needed in each moment and moving from that space?
Parenting for me fast became about the quality I lived, how I was with myself, the level of love and care I had towards my body, the routines and rhythms I put in place to support me, and my openness and willingness to be responsible and build consistency with both myself and others.
Our daughter could feel the steadiness that was being lived, and the love and appreciation I was developing for myself supported her to feel held and truly loved. I took the time to stop and feel how I allowed myself the space to eat a meal, to choose clothes and shoes that supported me, and truly accepting and loving myself for the woman I am. Without needing anything from her, my daughter was left to be herself, not having to fulfil any of my expectations, ideals or images I may have had of how I needed her to be for me.
We can so easily get lost in what parenting ‘should’ look like, how our children should be, but we often avoid stopping to feel where we are at, how we are and the quality of ourselves in what we are doing.
We would be wise to remember that children are constantly watching, observing and feeling, even if we think they aren’t, and that no matter how young they may be, they are constantly feeling everything all the time. It is here where our responsibility as a parent begins: it begins with ourselves and self-care, and from this we create our own road map in how to truly parent and support our children.
We are the role models for our future generation, even if we are not parents. If we are not gentle, loving and accepting of ourselves, if we do not allow ourselves to feel how the choices we make impact on our body and everything around us, if we do not live without conditions, ideals, beliefs and images of how we should or our life should be, then how can our children or any child grow up and live who they truly are?
We will not always get it right, and we do not have to – we are human and make mistakes. Taking responsibility for the way we live and the quality in which we are with ourselves is the beginning.
By Nicole Serafin, 45, Woman, Self-employed Salon owner, wife and mother, Tintenbar, NSW