Skip to main content

Being true to one's self...

A number of things in the past couple of weeks have gotten me to thinking about this idea of being true to one's self - and being honest with one's self about "Who I am, what I'm like, and what is best for me"...

It is just so easy to get caught up in other people's expectation of one's self, and to be convinced that other people's "benchmarks for performance" are somehow more true than than one's own...

I've been parenting for nearly a decade now - if you include the time that I was pregnant with Erik, then it is a decade already - and during that time I've often found myself trying to live up to other people's ideas and ideals of what is good and right. Some of those ideas and ideals I really, truly agree with, and aspire to, but have on occasion had to admit are slightly too "out of reach" for me, given my limitations as a human being.

As an attachment parent, for example (this is a label I identify strongly with), I used to believe that to be a "good parent", I had to constantly be even tempered, I had to carry my baby AT LEAST 90% of the time - and that using prams was either a sign of selfishness and/or laziness - that I needed to let my children sleep with me, and breastfeed from me with no boundaries whatsoever, because their needs were MORE important than my own needs.

I used to make myself, and subsequently my children, quite miserable trying to perfect myself as a parent.

One day it dawned on me... What was I trying to achieve as an attachment parent? Well, emotionally stable, secure children who felt safe with me. And how were my attempts at perfection achieving this? Well, not really... I was modelling for my children that "if it's not perfect, it's bad"... There was no compassion in my parenting, only rules - rules applied mostly to myself. I was modelling a lack of self-forgiveness. I was modelling that my own suffering was well worth meeting other people's ideas and ideals of what was good and right...

(Oh, great, Bryn just decided to publish this for me half done...)

Anyway, so what I'm getting at is that sometimes we let other people's opinions sway us into behaviours that aren't true to our own personality type or our own way of being in this world.

I have struggled with the need to be admired, or liked, or viewed as a "Can Do" sort of person for most of my adult life - in fact, it probably started long before adulthood. A deep sense of inadequacy caused me to overcompensate by taking on more than other people, so that people would admire me, not only for doing more than those able bodied people around, but doing it with a "disability"...

I still struggle with this. Earlier this year I was pregnant, and taking care of a toddler, I'd volunteered with a community organisation and was also working on my Thesis. The stress started to affect my health, but I ignored the signs because I like the look of awe in people's face when I told them how busy I was and how many things I was juggling at once... In the end though, I had to defer my thesis, and I ended up dropping the ball on the community organisation and leaving all the work up to a friend because I had to admit I really DID NOT have the energy, physically or mentally to do all the things I'd committed to doing.

I felt bad because I felt like I wasn't doing ANYTHING, that I didn't really have a good excuse for not holding to my commitments, and it took me several months to come to the realisation that caring for a toddler and growing another human being were already HUGE commitments - already two full time jobs...

The other truth was, I had to admit that it goes against my nature to commit myself long term to anything, really. I have an extremely short attention span, and I tend to run hot and heavy, almost obsessively on a theme for a relatively short period of time, and then I run cold, and if I have to keep running with a theme I've run cold on, I get rather resentful and rebellious about it...

This may seem childish and selfish to outsiders, and of course, I don't want to be viewed as childish and selfish, but then that isn't the ONLY way to view this particularly trait of mine. Another way to view it would be to see that I can pour a LOT of intense energy into a theme for a short period of time, and being as enthused as I get, I'm great at kick starting something and getting off the ground where other people might be slow starters. I can't sustain that kind of energy for a long time though, but other people can, so we could compliment each other, if that makes sense.

Ok, so perhaps that sounds like jazzing up a personality flaw, but the truth is, if I'm completely honest with myself and people around me - if I have integrity with myself - then this is something about me that I've tried to change over the years and failed... So, rather than be self-loathing about a personality trait that is under-appreciated, I choose to be honest about it and see it as a good thing for what it is.

That really my point here... We have to be compassionate with ourselves, see our own limitations and appreciate them, because every trait has it's good points, and while we might like to be viewed as possessing the more popular traits, they're only more popular because those people with those traits have been quite good at marketing them as "the most desirable"...

Getting back to attachment parenting... Sorry for jumping around a bit, I tend to think a bit like this - jumping around from idea to idea - if the most important thing is to meet your child's emotional needs, who is to say HOW those needs are best met. Is wearing your baby so much better than using a pram - I saw an article about a study that suggested that babies who are carted around in prams suffer more stress because quite often they face out from their parent and so the parent doesn't talk to them as much so their language skills don't develop as well as children facing inward and being talked to a lot more. Someone commented that that is why baby wearing is so fabulous - BUT what about when you wearing your baby in a back carrier? Babies worn in back carriers, or even on the front but facing out, also wouldn't get spoken to as much, so wouldn't they also suffer? And if you can remember to speak to an outward facing "worn" baby, can't you remember to speak to an outward facing pram-riding child?

So, let's not get too hung up in what other people's idea of what is good and right is, and let's ask ourselves, am I being true to myself, am I being the best person I can be WITH my limitations?

Comments

Kate said…
Hear hear and well said Sif.

Isn't it great the things we learn with age and experience?

When I *discovered* AP with Jack I beat myself up a lot for the things I wasn't doing, rather than enjoying the things that I was. I remember thinking that I wasn't really that great a parent because I didn't co-sleep with him. Oh cripes mother guilt in spades!

I find it vaguely hilarious now... it has taken three babies and six years to discover that being the best Mum I can be doesn't mean adhering to prescribed rules and ideals, but rather enjoying my time with my children and treating them with respect and love, as I would want to be treated myself.

My bubba rides in a pram (facing me ;P) and my back is so grateful. I haven't been arrested as yet LOL. We're we talking about J, or even E, I would have been beating myself up something chronic (and I must admit I find it ironic that my constant wearing of Emma was the catalyst for the back problems that mean I couldn't wear Tom all the time even if I wanted to!).

I love where I am in my parenting journey, and I really appreciate your sentiments in this post because you have really captured a lot fo what I have felt the last little bit as well.

*hugs*

Popular posts from this blog

12 Things Happy People Do Differently - a self-reflection...

A few days ago a Facebook friend posted the above poster on her wall. I believe she got these points from this blog which she enjoys reading, and the bloggers on the Marc and Angel Hack Life blog derived their discussion of these points from this book, available on Amazon - you're welcome! I have to admit, I haven't read the blog or the book I've just mentioned but wanted my readers to have access to the sources of the poster for their own reflective purposes.
The New Year will be upon us in but a few days and I thought this a great opportunity to do a little personal assessment on how I'm playing the happy game. I'm often not very happy at all - I don't need to be happy all the time, let me just say that up front - I personally believe that life is a balancing act and those who seek euphoria often will also often feel desolation because in all things there must be balance. The great riches of the few on this planet come at the personal cost of the many as is …

The symbolism of elephants...

Just recently I've been seeing and noticing elephants everywhere!

A few weeks ago I saw the Samsung Elephant Ad, and watching that led me to watching a video with an elephant painting (seriously, you have to watch it to believe it!).

Then last night the boys told me they were having a free dress day at school to raise money for 'Mali the Elephant' - who turned out to be a paper maché statue which the children will paint and then show around the council before it comes back to the school to stand outside the performing arts room.

Then this morning I followed a link from Twitter to Toushka Lee's blog and read this post about an elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka.

This morning the Grumpy Old Man did another driving test and unfortunately didn't pass. We've booked his next test and are looking forward to that now. About ten minutes before he walked in the door I saw this poster on Facebook...


At the time, I didn't know if the Grumpy Old Man had been successful or …

Do you have low self-esteem?

I don't.

I used to think I did, but having met several people who really do have low self-esteem, I've now come to realise I actually have low confidence (and note I don't say low self-confidence, but more on that later), and that is a different breed of animal all together.

I was having a chat with a friend the other day about people who constantly put themselves down. If you are a participant in social media you might be aware of this kind of person. Everyone is smarter than them, prettier than them, more motivated, better organised, or has greater talent than them. It goes further, some of these people are not at all opposed to running themselves down to others with comments like, 'I'm so fat' (and not in a proud, fat acceptance way, but in a negative, self-loathing kind of way), or 'I'm stupid' or 'I'm ugly'.

Some people are just fishing for compliments, of course, but the ones who persist; the ones who simply cannot take a complimen…