Being a mother has taught me things I never knew. Not just that there is a “right way” of cutting a toddler’s sandwich, or how to wash cloth nappies, but about myself and my strengths and weaknesses as an individual.
Before I had kids, I considered myself a fairly patient person. But three little people later and seemingly endless time spent waiting for them to put on shoes or finish a meal and I found I wasn’t quite as patient as I thought. While not great, knowing this about myself helps me to be on guard against unnecessary impatience and irritability.
I also found reserves of love and resilience I didn’t think I had too. When you yourself are sick, and dog tired, and still find it within yourself to lovingly care for a sick child. Amazing! In such times you also learn about your amazing friends and family who help where they can, with a meal or even just a caring text message from afar.
I found I loved snuggling up with my kids and reading books to them. We found joy in taking them exploring in the bush. I never thought I’d be outdoorsy as a Mum.
I thought I’d be the type of parent who got involved in the kid’s sports and school activities more than I do. My introversion means I do this less than many others. But the thing is I don’t need to compare myself to others. I need to do what works for me and my family. I need to know myself and how much I should take on. This can vary from year to year as children start and stop kindergarten, childcare or school. It may also vary from month to month as you juggle responsibilities, commitments, or times of ill health.
The point is that we enter motherhood with certain expectations about who we are, and the parents we will be. However, theory and practice can be vastly different things. We learn and grow alongside our children as parents, and as individuals. Knowing who we are, and what our strengths and weaknesses are can help us thrive as individuals, and make the best of the tough stuff.