Last fall I spoke publicly as part of a local series addressed at women called She Speaks, it was a defining moment in that I chose to be very public about my battle with anxiety…anxiety that was acquired over the years starting from childhood where I learned very clearly that sharing emotions was not a good thing. It’s taken a lot of work over the last 15 years to unlearn the fact that emotions are not bad and that in fact they can be very good at times. For me what was bad was stuffing down emotions to the point that I often triggered anxiety attacks.
While I started a number of years ago working on my issues, it was my son’s anxiety that started to manifest between his junior and senior years of high school that made me realize, I needed to get serious about unlearning my learned behavior. For years I had thought no one knew just how anxious I was but the fact is my son was starting to model the behavior I had modeled and thought I had done such a bang up job of hiding. (Note, I rarely write about my son since at 20 his story is his to share but in his music he openly shares this knowledge so I feel okay sharing here)
The reason I am writing this is because yesterday while killing time online, I came across a post on Babble that broke my heart. We strive so hard to raise our kids’ right, to protect them from hazards, to give them the best but for some reason as moms too many times the one thing we don’t give our kids is our real self. In this quest to be super mom, we seem to lose sight of the fact that it’s more than okay to be human. Humans are messy, complex and occasionally emotional. Moms are not robots and frankly we get mad, sad and straight pissed off. Kids are resilient, trust me on this, I have 20 years of parenting under my belt and to see mom occasionally freak out is not going to scar them.
The legacy of stuffing myself down has led me to strive for authenticity across the board in all areas of my life. In the past year I have become so honest that at times there have been repercussions for that honesty and its okay. I admit, I almost killed a business deal with my honest face… that was a tough moment.
I think the scariest thing about the state of parenting at the moment is how we focus so much on our kids that we seem to forget that we are humans too, worthy of everything we give our kids. I know for me that has meant giving my kids the leeway to say what they need to say and feel how they need to feel. I admit that is a work in progress to allow my daughter especially to have a bad moment without that overwhelming need to stifle her anger or tears but to simply be present with whatever she feels until she is ready to let it go naturally.
To raise our kids and to truly give them the best means a willingness to raise ourselves and realize this is all a journey and we can learn together.