Being Humbled, Becoming Whole: One of the Many Gifts of Parenting

Posted by on Oct 22, 2013 in All Articles, Parenting

It was just before 10am and I was expecting company for 10:30am. We were a solid, 5-minute walk from home, and I had timed our bike riding adventure at the community centre parking lot (it has lots of cool ramps for gliding) perfectly. I maximized our play time, being the “good mom” that I am, waiting till what I felt was the last minute before needing to gather us up and rush home to tidy before our guests, who have a consistently extremely tidy home themselves, arrived.

I bundled my boys in the stroller, turned towards the street down the walk and that’s when we saw it: city trucks in the field across the street taking down a tree, chain saws and all, and turning them into bark mulch before our very eyes. My 16 month old was napping, but could wake any minute at either the lack of stroller movement or loud tree-chopping noise.  Naturally my 3-year old son was mesmerized, and I have to say I was pretty taken, too. It was an awesome sight. And it was ruining my plans. How could I remain the awesome, fun mom that I am and still get home to cleanup, thus maintaining the image of having it “all together” to my friends who were set to arrive in just 20 minutes now? With the “toy-nado” in full effect across our living space, they would be lucky to find a place for their feet to walk, and if they succeeded there, I was sure they wouldn’t be so lucky as to not step in some kind of crunchy (or worse) food mess. I hadn’t swept in a few days and those of you with a toddler or two know how gross that really is.

For reasons not to be discussed here, my own “go to,” or instinctual way of being is to maintain appearances at all cost, always be presentable and present a tidy home, and to always be on time. Always. I should be able to do this. Hence my current dilemma and how proud I had been just a few minutes ago at thinking I was going to accomplish all these goals while still being a most excellent and fun mama in my boys’ eyes. I was clearly falling short here.

My first reaction was anxiety and stress: either I left despite the polite pleading of my son to stay and watch a few more minutes and was a no-fun, rigid mom, or I ruined my image and revealed the everyday reality of my messy home to my very tidy, everything-in-it’s-place friends. I couldn’t win.

However, then from somewhere inside me, the wisdom of my inner child kicked in.

Where did these “shoulds” come from? Who says I have to have it all together? So what if my friend coming over always has an immaculate house? So what if she judges me? Isn’t it more important to slow down, get over myself, and share this sweet experience with my boys (who were of course both fully awake and absorbed by what their eyes were taking in)? Besides, nobody’s perfect, right?

This little situation called into question the validity of these “shoulds” running through my head, and the anxiety at not meeting them tightening my chest. I was confronted with my own “stuff” because of a tension between my issues and “shoulds”, and my parenting goals and priorities. My son had, in his extreme curiosity of all things mechanical, provided me with an opportunity to introspect, challenge unhealthy strivings, get over them, and decide with intention what my new/true priorities were.

So, we stayed until the NEW last minute, making it home just before our friends arrived (only because they were also running late, thank goodness!). My sons and I enjoyed the lumberjack show, and I got to, however reluctantly, model Adler’s “courage to be imperfect” in showing off my spectacularly messy home. I did sweep while they were there, just so they wouldn’t have to have a foot bath before re-entering their own fastidiously kept home, but at the end of it all, I was humbled, more grounded in an awareness of myself and values, and thus, more whole. What a gift. And our opportunities to receive these gifts as such, as we moms know, happen all the time.

Thanks for making me late, son. Thanks for helping me grow. I love you.