It’s okay to not know it all
Somewhere in our journey to motherhood we got the message that as mothers we need to be all knowing, stoic, infallible creatures for our kids to even consider taking us seriously. We need to have an answer to every question, address their every whim and we need to do all of this while having a Pinterest worthy house, rocking body, flawless hair and skin, and our homemade, organic cupcakes must be on point. Do not even consider asking for help or admitting you can’t do it all perfect all the time, doing so would forever brand you a failure. Your kids would be on the next train to dysfunction and mayhem. Seriously, all hell will break loose. We do this almost without thinking, as if someone else has taken control of our minds and bodies until we get to the point that we cannot bear this weight anymore, our knees are starting to buckle under the pressure.
The weight of this pressure is a feeling way too familiar to me in the first few years of motherhood. Everywhere I turned I felt like every book, magazine and movie I saw reiterated it, over and over. Celebrities bouncing back weeks after giving birth, articles about toddlers who don’t watch tv, eat, candy, poop or cry, babies that sleep twelve hours a night. What was I missing? Why could’t I do it all? What was wrong with me? I looked to my friends for a sign that they were asking themselves the same questions, but we were all trapped under the same illusion. No one was willing to speak up first, to call it for the bullshit it actually is. It wasn’t until I was forced, through a series of circumstances outside of my control, to really strip my life down to bare bones and rebuild it.
I started to question why I held myself to this destructive, impossible standard. Continually failing to meet these expectations left me feeling defeated, depressed and isolated. If I continued to do this I would never ever be enough for myself, or anyone else. So I stopped living by these arbitrary demands and I started to listen to intuition. Intuition is a funny thing, it is quite possibly our strongest sense yet it is so quiet that many times it goes unnoticed. It’s that strange feeling in your gut when something feels off, its a soft whisper in your ear that tells you the answer but you shrug it off. It’s when you know something yet you have no concrete reason of knowing it. For as intensely strong and reliable as it is, it sometimes feels like its not quite sure if it wants to jump in and help. But the more you seek it out, the louder it gets and the harder it is to ignore.
My intuition lead me to the realization that I needed to be as real and authentic as humanly possible, it made it unbearable for me to be around people who are not. This new revelation allowed me to let go of past hurts and resentments, and trust that the people who knowingly and willingly hurt and judge us are trapped in their own inauthenticity and hurting like I was. These people need to be released, they need compassion. I knew that once you live in your own truth you don’t take on other people’s ego problems.
While everyone has intuition, as mothers we are blessed with an additional level of awesome, known as mother's intuition. Because not only are we guiding ourselves through life, we are also responsible for these perfect little people who trust us to lead them when they cannot yet decide for themselves. Being able to look at your child and intuitively know what they need is something you have been doing since the moment they were born. You knew the difference between their cries to determine if they needed to be changed or fed. Mothers can often tell when something isn’t right with their child long before the fever spikes. It’s our natural instinct to just know, and we are phenomenal at it because we are amazing gorgeous creatures.
However for some reason I noticed that I led by my intuition in many ways but then there was a brick wall in how I actually related to my kids. I put the brakes on my intuition and I resorted to the stoicism I had been taught. I knew everything, I was right, I am the adult. This made no sense to me, how could I care for these kids everyday using my intuition to keep them safe but when it came to their heart and soul I became inauthentic. So again, I stopped the madness. I let down that wall and I let them in.
For the first time in their lives I showed them vulnerability. I showed them what it means to be a living, breathing woman who feels the feelings and doesn’t always know the answers. When I was sad, I was honest about it. I wanted them to see that it is okay to feel sadness and pain, and I also let them see me work though those emotions in a healthy, constructive way and come out the other side stronger. I showed them resiliency through my words and actions. Life throws so many curveballs, what better way to teach them how to handle it than by showing them exactly how to handle it. They began to see that we were exactly the same, that their myriad of feelings wasn’t weird or bad, they were universal- even Mom had them! So when I said I understood how they felt, they believed it because Robo-Mom was replaced by an actual human. This connected us, and tightened the bond in ways I could have never imagined. When I was overwhelmed I said it, out loud to them calmly which took my stress level down and I didn’t turn into scream-y mommy because I wasn’t bottling it up. When I felt taken advantage of I expressed it, rather than becoming martyr mom and building resentment.
This reduced the stress level in our house tremendously, now that they saw me as a person with people-y feelings they began to have more respect for me. Oddly enough revealing my weakness in those moments didn’t make me weak, it made me stronger than ever. I felt liberated and better equipped to handle life.
So I say you let your kids see your vulnerability, your truth, for in your truth your strength lies. Teaching them from that place of raw, unfiltered honesty is beautiful and more than that it resonates with them in a way stoic, rehearsed teachings do not. Let your defenses down, get down and meet them where they are at, it’s okay not to always know the answer. Not knowing makes you real, makes you human, it makes you empowered and strong and that is the place from which we do our best teaching. Conventional wisdom teaches us that if we reveal our weaknesses we lose control over the situation, I am challenging that. I think facing our faults shines a light onto them and allows us to disarm them, it takes away their power and restores it back to you. Kind of like the monsters in their room, the moment you flip the lights on we realize the monster was just a curtain. Liberate yourself and feel the strength that comes with it, I promise you will not regret it.