Motherhood. The word in itself encompasses the idea of a place (a "hood") where a woman learns who she is, what she's made of, and how truly precious life is. Motherhood is also a place where many of us find ourselves lost, seeking answers, while in the midst of all the love-enducing energy that your heart can handle. I always knew I wanted to be a mother. I felt that being a mom would give me the validation I was looking for. I thought that becoming a mother would heal all my wounds, and give me the strength I needed to push forward -- never looking back at the pains of my past. I couldn't have been more wrong about that assumption.
Being a daddy-less daughter, I had a natural distrust of men. I felt that men were unreliable and untrustworthy. I assumed that I would need a man to help me get pregnant, but figured that once the child was born, the father was no longer needed. I could be the do-it-yourself, I-got-this, don't-need-a-man epitome of single motherhood. As long as I had my education, and will to work and provide, my kids would live a great life. Then I married a man who was the complete opposite of all those terrible qualities in men I had come to expect, and he taught me to value men in a much greater sense.
Jump to a few years later, and my first daughter was born. It was then that my anxiety began to take control of my thoughts, emotions and reactions. Being a survivor of sexual abuse myself, having a daughter felt like I was giving birth to a 'little target' for other abusers to prey on. The anxiety lead to depression, anger and resentment toward anyone who didn't behave in a way that was respectful of my unreasonable boundaries. A very specific combination really threw me for a loop: Men in my home + Alcohol + my children = FULL ON PANIC ATTACK. If my husband turned to me and said, "Hey babe, some of the guys are coming over to watch the game. Is that ok?" I would always respond with "Sure..." but then I would have a severe routine to emotionally prepare to have men in my home (shower, a nap, and breathing practices). Because of this, I didn't want to host gatherings in my home, would rather lock my daughter and I in the bedroom upstairs while people hung out downstairs, and I would not allow myself the chance to enjoy company. I came off inhospitable, paranoid, and rude. And that was just when daughter #1 was born...you can imagine the tailspin that followed when daughter #2 came along. It was then that I decided it was time to seek help. I enrolled in therapy to deal with my anxiety.
In my therapy sessions I talked about everything. My father. The abuse. The resentment I felt toward others. I had to relive certain moments of my childhood; mentally. The therapist even had me do something called "exposure therapy" where I was asked to imagine the worst case scenario possible. I did, and it was terrifying. But I lived through it. I began to understand the strength of my heart and how much I could trust it. That kicked off my journey to healing. Since then I've gone to retreats, read countless books, watched seminars, gotten closer to God and allowed Him into my Spirit, and I began to change my thoughts about myself. I did the work!! It was tough, scary, but necessary. I'm able to enjoy life so much more now because of all the growth and healing that I've experienced on my self-love journey. I'm so very grateful that my girls get 'THIS' version of me, and not the old broken version of myself.
As women, we learn how to be women by watching our own mothers. We pick up on their behaviors, patterns, and manner of doing things. Daughters learn how to handle the setbacks in life, by watching how Mom dealt with hers. Was she a pillar of strength? Was she self-compassionate? Was she bitter and angry all of the time? Or was she a complete mystery? I have spoken to many women who have shared that they truly do not feel they know their mothers. The generational pattern of 'secrecy' has caused a wedge in the mother/daughter bond and as a result, a daughter doesn't know who SHE is because MOM doesn't know who SHE is either. As mothers, we not only hold the tremendous responsibility of teaching, providing, nursing, and educating our children; but we have a responsibility to walk in wholeness. We must deal with our brokenness. We must heal our wounds, we must work through our pain, we must step into a life of wholehearted living. When we fail to DO THE WORK and heal our wounds, we run the risk of passing on the residual effects of our pain to our children. Unhealed wounds affects how we parent. It shows up on our communication (or lack thereof), ability to control our emotions, and our methods to connect from a genuine place.
I don't want my children to live a life of anxiety, fear, paranoia and depression. I want them to see me walking in love. self-compassion, empathy, and courage to live in this world (with all its brokenness) with a heart full of intent and grace. I want them to know that they can make mistakes, question themselves, take time to figure it all out, and that no matter what the outcome -- they will always belong here, in our home. To trust their hearts, listen to their intuition closely, as it's God's way of delivering an important message that only a woman could hear. To know me, the real me. The me that makes mistakes, errs often, prays, plays, experiences joy and sorrow, and isn't afraid of failure. I will allow them to see ME, and in doing so, as moms we need to work on who WE are. We have a responsibility to be WHOLE women. It is beneficial to everyone....when a woman knows her worth and can walk this life with love and grace, she teaches her daughter the courage it takes to do the same. And in doing so, also extends the same level of acceptance to other women working on themselves also.
The bottom line is, there is no PERFECT way to be a mom, but there are a billion ways to be a GOOD one. All moms are trying. As Brene Brown would say, they are 'daring greatly'. So if you're in this arena, trying hard to break generational patterns, heal, and DO THE WORK...you're daring greatly. Don't stop, keep going. They say a "happy wife" makes "a happy life". If so much strength and beauty can come into a marriage with a woman's sense of self, just imagine the world-changing work we can do when we decide to become whole and healed women for our daughters. It starts with us.
May your daughter know you. May she see you. Even after seeing all of your scars, may she look up at the beauty in your eyes and see a woman of immense strength of character. A woman who found the courage to find self-love and wholehearted living; so that the daughter can have her own journey without having to carry the weight of the generational traumas that came before her.
Peace & Blessings,