Before I had Charlotte, and before I even got pregnant, I had this picture of what kind of parent I was going to be. Since I’m a therapist that specializes in attachment, I obviously thought I was going to be in the category of an “Attachment Mom”. Meaning that I would wear her every second of the day, and breastfeed forever and always speak in the most kind voice. Then, I had Charlotte.
I found myself running around trying to survive and at the end of the day fretting over not “wearing” her enough that day. (I also let her sleep on me for almost all naps, so I'm giving my past self some grace there. She had her fair share of skin to skin). I remember having a thought during those first three months: “I’m not the Mother I thought I was going to be”. And I felt disappointed. I felt as is I was letting my past self down and that somehow I wouldn’t be giving Charlotte the love and care she needed to grow up with a secure attachment. A secure attachment means that a child looks to their parent for comfort and when their parent leaves, they trust that they will return. Now, I know that she was loved hard and whether she was “worn” for hours a day didn’t matter. I had to come to terms with not being able to do everything I thought the books said I had to do. (Recovering perfectionist over here!) I needed to take care of myself, and that wasn’t always easy when there was a baby strapped to my front.
I also know that in being a parent, we need to “get it right” 30 percent of the time for our children to grow up secure. What does getting it right mean? It means looking our children in the eyes when they tell us a story. It means hugging them and kissing their boo-boos. It means accurately naming their emotions when they come to us with a “big” one. It means saying sorry when we make a mistake. It doesn’t, however mean being perfect.
So, you might be still wondering what kind of parent I am. I am the kind of Mother that embraces the AND. What does that mean? I am the kind of Mom that mirrors and empathizes with her child’s feelings when she falls, and sometimes I say: “you’re OK!” I am the kind of Mom that tries to feed her child healthy food, and I found her eating a dark chocolate peanut butter cup from the floor last week. I’m the kind of Mom that plays with her child as much as I can, and she’s watched several episodes of Sesame Street. I’m the kind of Mom that packs a bag full of snacks for outings, and prays that there is at least one diaper somewhere in the car. I am not perfect, and I am not the Mother I thought I’d be. I came up with that “perfect Mother” image way before I had Charlotte, and we all know we were perfect parents before we had kids. I've even come up with a list of things I said I'd never do and have already broken. I'll share that in the next few weeks!
Being a Mom does not mean that we don’t make mistakes. We can both try our hardest, and screw up sometimes. I would even argue that we aren’t screwing up, just participating in learning opportunities, and that’s a discussion for another post! There is always AND when it comes to Motherhood. It’s time we embrace it.
Now, I want to know, what kind of Mother are you?