One of the more memorable and lesson-filled #BetterMe sessions we’ve had thus far was the one held last Mother’s Day at The One Core’s office on Esteban Abada. There were about 7 of us present that morning, and unlike most of our #BetterMe sessions, it was slightly shorter, but still very much jam-packed with insights.
Coach Pia wanted to gather some of the #SoMoms to “celebrate” mother’s day the #BetterMe way. After all, it is our common ground, and it is the reason we choose to get together and learn as often as we do. If we’re able to better ourselves for our children, we can be better parents and people over-all.
One thing Coach Pia said she noticed amongst us mothers (and this is may be true for moms in general), is that we are always riddled with self-doubt over the decisions we make for or in behalf of our children. It’s hard enough being a parent, it’s harder when you (or other people around you) second guess what you’ you do. And it doesn’t help that everyone has some form of judgement too.
But the self-doubt oftentimes is also self-imposed — particularly when you have more than one child. Because more often than not, what worked with one, will not necessarily work with the other. And it’s strange how some of us moms say that with a little laugh afterwards. It’s as if these kids got one over us.
Seriously though, when I think about the first time I became a parent, I really did not know what I was doing. I just tried to navigate it as best I could, and hence this blog. Then when I thought I’d somehow gotten my bearings here comes Jamie and everything is out the window. There’s this new personality, and new dynamic. So here I am figuring things out as I go. It’s tiring isn’t it?
During that session, Coach Pia gave us a few parameters and exercises to help rid ourselves of that self-doubt and be more confident in making the best choices for our kids.
It all boils down to accepting the fact that you are a different parent to each of your children. The “ideal mom” is different for each child. Each one has different needs and to be the best parent you can be to them would mean needing to be flexible and adjust. It’s such a different parameter from the way we were raised growing up, when everyone had to conform and “adhere” to what the parents set for them, or else it was seen as a failure on the part of the child (issues much?).
Ask yourself first from their point-of-view: If your child were to describe the kind of parent you are, how would he or she do it?
That exercise alone showed me that if I were to put myself in each of my girls’ shoes, they would really say two different things about me. There would be similarities yes of course. But in the way that I know them, I could already see that I played a different role in each of their lives.
Here’s an example (an excerpt from my notes): For Sam, I felt she saw me as a friend and an equal. She respects my authority but is not afraid to challenge it and reason out her side. I’m someone who can put up with all her antics. For Jamie, I’m her shoulder to cry on; her comfort zone. I make her feel safe.
Both scenarios can apply to both girls, but one is more predominant for one child than it is for the other. That’s because their needs are different to begin with. Jamie is a shy spirit and isn’t as adventurous or as outgoing as her Ate. New situations frighten her, and she would rather sit and have me wrap her in her protective bubble than go out and explore.
On the contrary, for Sam the peacock, new situations excite her. And what she needs is a mom who will allow her to discover things on her own and not someone who’ll hold her back. Conversely, because she also has no sense of what could be risky for her, Sam needs a mom who isn’t afraid to pull on the reigns every now and then.
The next exercise was to identify the Positive Qualities (PQ) and the Challenging Qualities (CQ) for each of your children. It expounds on the initial exercise earlier, but now taken from your PoV as a mom. The trick is to be as objective as possible.
From there, you can make an objective assessment and answer the question: Do I have what it takes to sustain it for the long haul?
If the answer is yes, then good for you. But if the answer is no or maybe not (and it is okay to admit this to ourselves!)… then it’s a good time to evaluate what you need as a mom to be able to be what your kids need you to be. Does it require having a yaya to help out with the kids (or around the house)? Does it mean delegating — and getting a yaya to help during the day, or getting a tutor to help with the studies so the burn out isn’t on you? Or does it mean cutting back and cutting out those activities which give you both stress (remember, sometimes an activity is done because the parents want and it’s not what the child wants! Watch out point for us all). Knowing WHY you make that decision can help free you (me) from the guilt and self-doubt.
Now here’s another interesting insight from Coach Pia: for those of us with same gender children (close in age), it’s more important to harness each one’s uniqueness above all else.
So if it means that Ate would rather not share her new Frozen doll with Jamie, then help convince Jamie to play with something else, and vice-versa. Sharing as a value can have its own moment and place in the world. If getting two of the same means they get to harness their own individuality, then you may want to consider it. Otherwise, Coach Pia says it’s just a case of testing your management skills.
Objectifying makes it “easier” to see, and what an irony that is no, since motherhood can be very emotional. It helps to remove the emotion and the “baggage” so you can see clearly how to be their best mother ever (Sam’s words). In that way you also eliminate the self-doubt in yourself, because you know that your decision is rooted in exactly what the child needs.
I’d love to hear your thoughts (and own little experiments on these exercises!). What do you think?