Have you ever looked at your children and found yourself wondering where did the time go? How did they grow so quickly? Lately I've been having these feelings a lot as my children rapidly approach the milestone of adolescence. One day you are handed a brand new baby and the days stretch endlessly before you. It feels as if the nappies, the crying and the tantrums will never end. Yet too soon they are adults, packing their backpacks for round the world trips or moving out into the world of independence. There's so much I want to tell them, so much wisdom I want to impart to prepare them for the journey that lies ahead. But too often these words are left unspoken, lost in the day to day busyness of life. I'm tempted to make every conversation count, to fill it with gems of advice that will help my children grow and become strong, resilient people. Yet I'm also conscious that this would likely result in multiple eye rollings and cries of 'Oh Mum.' Even more than I already get!
Real life doesn't always allow these conversations to happen. We have to talk about homework, what we are having for dinner and whether the school uniform needs a wash. Still, if you could share your own gathered wisdom with your child (and you didn't need to talk about times tables, school lunches and the need for clean uniforms) what would you say? What life lessons would you hope to impart before your little one graduates into adulthood? These ten small offerings come to mind to me today.
Be kind to everyone you meet, even those who are angry, ignorant, or difficult. They too have their story.
Stand up for what you believe in. Your values will be your compass through life's uncertainties.
It is better to be liked by a small few for who you really are, than by many for who you are not.
When difficulties come, and sadly they will, draw close to the things that give you substance and help you find your strength...family, friends, and faith.
Let love in but be careful who gets a ticket to your heart. If someone hurts you it's important to forgive but it's also okay to walk away.
Manners are really important. Please and thank you will take you far in life.
It doesn't matter what mark you got or whether you won the race. What matters to me is who you are and all that you stand for.
Most people in this life just long to be seen, to be truly seen for who they are. The greatest gift we can offer another is to listen deeply to their story. Be the person who listens to the words that are left unsaid.
Be gentle with yourself. Offer self compassion. You are human, you will not be perfect, you will make mistakes. The journey of life requires that we fall down many times before we can stand. It is in the getting back up again that the strength of our character shines.
And know that I love you. Through all of the circumstances in life it will be a love that is unchanging and whether you are 12, 45 or 67 I will always think of you as my baby. My beautiful baby.
These are my wisdoms today. Tomorrow, they may be different. What wisdom would you hope to share as your child grows?
Becoming a mother for the first time (either through the birth of a child, adoption or the complex navigation of step parenting), can be an overwhelming, daunting task filled with many feelings. It takes time to process the enormous changes taking place and for these feelings to be transformed.
Many years ago, my first baby, a long awaited daughter was born. The start of a very steep learning curve, I recall in the early days feeling daunted by the enormity of the journey ahead. Self doubt, confusion and worry all made their presence felt. And yet, we survived. Somehow through the challenges of the early months, these feelings were gradually transformed. They didn't go away completely, but it got easier. Alongside doubt and confusion, happiness and contentment became part of the journey. The bigger part.
I often think back to those anxiety ridden early days and wish I could reach out to my new mother self and say 'It's okay. Hang in there. It's going to get so much better.'
We all need the kindness and wisdom of mothers who have gone before us. If you could reach back in time and offer a few words of wisdom and comfort to your younger self, and to other mothers entering this journey for the first time, what would you say?
Leisa Stathis is an individual, child and family therapist who currently is in private practice. She is also a mother. A very real, very ordinary mother trying to do something extra-ordinary ; be good enough. Becoming a Mother is her journey, as much as it is anyone else's. A journey of learning to sitting with the uncertainty that parenting brings, of letting love steal its way into her heart and of being transformed into a new identity. You will find no experts here, just real mothers facing the everyday challenges of parenting with thoughtfulness and intention.