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On shifting with the tides and the yin/yang of parenthood ☯️
I have been a mother for ten years. And yet there are times I still feel like I’m faking it, as though I’m pretending I have any idea what I’m doing.
Inside, sometimes I still feel like that young mom with a newborn suckling around the clock while laundry piles up and I wonder when I’ll shower. Except now it’s all new stuff: my youngest starting kindergarten soon, the eldest entering adolescence. But then my youngest is still young enough that when I ask her to change her clothes she strips right in front of me in the kitchen and runs up the stairs buck naked without a hint of self-consciousness. In one moment I feel the small hand of my five-year-old gripping mine as we walk across a parking lot. The next I’m having conversations with my oldest about racism and women’s rights. I’m simultaneously experiencing eye rolls, sister fights, tears over lost headbands, and conversations about privilege and personal responsibility.
Part of this is the result of having two daughters five years apart. But I think any age brings these opposing experiences. Every day feels like a pendulum swing and our best tactic as parents is to hang on for dear life. “This too shall pass,” I’m told. Every stage will come to an end, and then there will be another one. Some things get easier (true) and some things get harder (also true). Pinterest or over-simplified magazine articles might convince us there are ways we can conquer these daily battles. But lately, I’m digging Dr. Becky Kennedy’s work with Good Inside. We need to learn to come alongside our kids in their struggles and joys, and know that we are good parents even when we mess up or feel like we’re lacking the skills to handle the daily onslaught of “newness.”
A passage in Chapter 6 of Lights to Guide Me Home came to mind this morning, as I reflected on a Mother’s Day weekend in which I waffled between Mother of the Year and several moments that I hope never to recall. 🙃 These reflections have to do with very early motherhood, but what strikes me about them is how relevant they are even now that I’m a decade into it.
From day one, we experienced the yin and yang of parenthood, that in a matter of nanoseconds you can go from feeling your deepest frustrations to feeling the overflow of joy and love, so deep it cuts through you like a canyon, oozing your heart out the other end and forever carving you into something new. From day one, we learned you can look at yourself in the mirror and wonder where “you” went.
It would take years to recognize myself again amidst all the sculpting, the stretch marks, the sacrifices, the surprises. Motherhood became the new adventure I didn’t know I was on until I saw a resemblance between life with a child and my previous expeditions: that it’s better to plan for things not to go according to plan; that just when I think I’ve figured something out, another challenge comes knocking; that the moments that fill my heart can come in the most unexpected ways, gently tapping me on the shoulder to remind me to stop, absorb the moment and revel in the miracle of the here and now.
You don’t need to be a parent to feel those opposing forces of Life or the bittersweetness we can encounter, often unexpectedly. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past ten years it’s to just go with the flow, to let ourselves off the hook when we get it wrong or give into overwhelm, and to introduce joy into our lives instead of just waiting for it to happen.
If you’re feeling that yin and yang, remember they are opposite but still interconnected forces. You don’t get one without the other. We have a heightened experience with one because we have the contrast of the other. Just go with it and build up your resilience so that when the tide shifts you are ready to move with it.
Feature photo above by.
What’s caught my attention lately… ✨
Roy MacGregor is a favourite author of mine who writes uniquely Canadian books. He also happens to live in my hometown, Kanata. When I saw Original Highways: Travelling the Great Rivers of Canada in a store a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but make it my first read of the “summer” (I go for temperatures, not actual seasons here). 😉 I’ve had a close relationship with rivers in both eastern and western Canada, having lived in Ottawa and now close to the Bow River. I’m learning a lot with this book, and really enjoying it.
I wrote something… ✍️
Fresh on the blog: Memoirs about Motherhood and the Outdoors is a compilation of books that share the common thread of motherhood as it converges with Mother Earth.
Check these out too… 🙌
The Wonders That I Find - my children’s book
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