It’s never easy for a mother to confess to her child that she has found herself lacking. Nevertheless we all know that acceptance of a situation allows insight and wisdom to change and evolve.
I used to be an investment banker, a trainer and a teacher before my son’s birth. Of all these vocations, teaching seemed to bring the maximum joy. When he arrived I vowed to be a good mother. Motherhood joined hands with my outer-world pursuits. Over time, I began realizing some things.
I had always been inspired and energized by my MBA students. My interactions with them seemed to have creativity, encouragement and the giving of space. When talking to them, I would stretch my thinking to meet their perspectives. I stayed alert to their changing moods and allowed their feedback to shape my inputs for them. Most importantly, I never dreamt of burdening them with my expectations.
Here’s the irony: Why did I then find it difficult to maintain the same approach with my son? Why did my attitude change? With him, my mind seemed to live in a rigid skin of “ought-to” and “ought not to”. I often foolishly persisted with my original plans, even when he seemed to indicate a need for change of pace or approach – a misapplied lesson in persistence.
Other mothers assured me it was natural to want the child to work towards excellence. As a professor, I also wanted each of my students to work towards excellence. So why the schism?
I remember the times he would sit to colour; What he wanted to do and what I thought was “right” would usually be diametrically opposite to each other! When he chose to sit down to create yet another unique vehicle using Lego blocks, and I would wonder why he wasn’t out and about with friends in the playground? In retrospect, it seems so silly that I allowed his choices and decisions to baffle me. I thought like a mom, not like a teacher. As a teacher, I was geared up towards a much wider spectrum of acceptance. I was happy to use creativity and patience to deal with differences of thought. As a mom, this approach was not always there.
When he invariably followed his own heart (for which I thank the Lord!), I would bite down on my impatience and also wonder – was I being a “good enough mother”?
It took me a long while to realize that this state of mind was a manifestation of my ego: A “my child” syndrome. I learned to see him as a complete person even if he was still in the single digits. When faced with yet another situation where his will came up against mine, I started asking myself: What if he were my student and not my son? How would I handle the situation then?
I reminded myself that he is one of my biggest teachers, and that part of the mandate he has, is to be seemingly contrary to my expectations! For that is how he has given me insights into a “nishkaam karma”, the principle of detached involvement; learning to keep aside expectations of particular outcomes and focusing instead on the best that one can do.
Long ago, I read the words of Kahlil Gibran;
“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.”
Most parents would nod their heads sagely on reading these lines. Yet most of us are also guilty of falling into the trap that he cautions us against. We unwittingly treat children as our possessions and therefore foist a more rigid set of expectations on them. Mothers, particularly Indian ones, are often guilty of allowing emotions to colour almost all decisions, to the point where the child is emotionally blackmailed into toeing the line with the phrase: “After all the sacrifices I’ve made for you…”
Maybe I, and other mothers like me should remind ourselves from that the Universe has entrusted us with the sacred responsibility of helping our children discover their own potential, and work towards fulfilling it in their own unique manner. We can’t walk the path for them, or stop the pain of the falls along the way. We ought to not hand out our own “How to” guides for their journey, unless they clearly need it or ask for it. We are there to cheer their progress, to guide, and to boost their courage in the rare moments of self-doubt.
Does that mean that wise parenting is a cold, bloodless affair? Most certainly not. After all these years, I am discovering that it as a sublime blend of intense commitment, coupled with love and affection; and an equally dispassionate calm. The ability to see one’s child as much more than one’s child seems to be the trick to baggage-free parenting. I hope and pray that over the years this becomes one of my best gifts to my son, the space to be who he truly is!
Being your mom has brought me tremendous joy, but also challenges. Many times, I worry about bringing you up well enough to reach your highest potential. I see other moms and feel like I am lacking.
Taking a deep breath I remind myself this is not a test. As much as it is my job to teach you, this is your life and your responsibility to be your best. I am here to grow with you.
I’m not the best mom in the world (though I’m blessed to know you think I am).
I hope you know that I am doing my best. I hope to teach you what I feel is most important to become a fine young man and live a wonderful life.
There will always be expectations from people around you, to do certain things or behave in certain ways.
You are one-of-a-kind; born with a unique combination of gifts and talents. Seek to know who you are and have the courage to be true. Don’t compare yourself to others.
Don’t be afraid to dance to a different tune.
After some unconventional choices in my life, becoming a mom has made conscious of decisions I’ve made. I hope my life will show you that it is ok to not follow the crowd. There are no fixed rules or formulas for success. We must each find our own way, and that can only come from self-awareness.
Forget about trying to fit into a mold. Pursue your passion and live a life that brings you joy, meaning and fulfillment. Blaze your own trail.
Don’t just be a successful man, be a great man.
Most of us desire to be successful, and enjoy a good life. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I hope that you will also aim to be a great man. Be a man of courage, integrity, strong values and compassion, make a difference in the world. Show love and respect to others; don’t judge those who are different. Learn to appreciate. Life is not a competition, it’s a journey and we all need the company.
Be responsible for your happiness and your feelings
It’s not someone else’s job to make you happy. It all starts with the decisions and choices you make.
You can choose to let the words and actions of others affect you, or you can forgive, let go, and reclaim your joy. It’s important to acknowledge how you feel and choose to be in a positive, uplifting state.
Feelings are nothing to be scared of. They are only scary when you don’t know how to deal with them. We can learn how to positively manage and express feelings; learn to respond appropriately to others.
Feelings serve a purpose; listen to the messages they bring about any situation. When we acknowledge our feelings, we are opening the door to possibilities. Never suppress your feelings; it isn’t good for your health and wellbeing. You can be both strong and sensitive, and that will make you a wonderful man.
Failure is part of success.
Success takes effort, determination and courage. When you don’t succeed at first, don’t think that you are a failure. Instead, lean all you can from the experience.
Believe in yourself. If you persevere, you will succeed.
Success is an inside-out process
Success is an inside-out process. Your thoughts and beliefs determine your level of success. If you don’t have a strong inner state, success will be short-lived.
Focus on you inner game. Expand your consciousness to create a belief system that will support your outer success.
Gratitude is an important ingredient to joy and success in life.
When we live with a sense of gratitude, we will naturally feel happier. There’s less need for comparison; we gain a balanced view about life, especially during challenging times. Focusing on the good helps us develop a positive mindset, which is the foundation to living a happy and successful life.
As you grow older, you will have more responsibilities. I hope you’ll learn to see beyond the tasks I give you and realize that you are only given them because I trust that you can do a good job.
Take responsibility for your actions and choices. You make a decision about something; you must bear the consequences. Don’t blame others when things don’t turn out. Appreciate the responsibility that comes with making choices. If the decision turns out poorly, learn from it. In the future, you will be able to make better decisions.
Learn how to communicate well
In life, everything is about relations. You need to be able to share your thoughts and ideas in order to achieve your goals. Learn to speak and write well.
Communicating is not just about speaking. It also means learning to listen. Communication is a two-way process. Pay attention to someone when they speak, look them in the eyes, acknowledge with simple gestures like a nod or smile. By doing that, you are showing respect.
One of the reasons I am so strict about you using smartphones is because I want you to first learn good communication skills.
Let’s grow together
What things would you like to teach your children about life? What things about your own life would you like them to learn from?
This is an original article by Ruth Wong for World Mom’s Blog
Ruth lives in Singapore, a tiny island 137 kilometres north of the equator. After graduating from university, she worked as a medical social worker for a few years before making a switch to HR and worked in various industries such as retail, banking and manufacturing. In spite of the invaluable skills and experiences she had gained during those years, she never felt truly happy or satisfied. It was only when she embarked on a journey to rediscover her strengths and passion that this part of her life was transformed. Today, Ruth is living her dreams as a writer. Ironically, she loves what she does so much that at one point, she even thought that becoming a mom would hinder her career. Thanks to her husband’s gentle persuasions, she now realises what joy she would have missed out had she not changed her mind. She is now a happy WAHM. Ruth launched MomME Circle, a resource site to support and inspire moms to create a life and business they love. She has a personal blog Mommy Café where she writes about her son's growing up and shares her interests such as food and photography.
If you’re a parent, or a child, or anyone, you may have heard the phrase. “It takes a village” (to raise a child). After reading a post written by a fellow contributor, KC, I remained in thought about this village that’s needed to raise our children.
KC is currently a stay-home-mum to a precious toddler, so you know she has one of the most rewarding and challenging positions in the universe; one weighted with a lot of responsibility, as well. Thankfully she takes the time to write about some of what’s going on in her world as a mum, a woman, and as a person, because out of her writing I found something I want to discuss, too. Check her out at http://www.mummyintransit.com. She is a really good writer, and she’s funny too.
In reading KC’s post I thought about my own experience as a child in Italy, a teenager in Tanzania, and an adult and parent in the United States. What was my village like? Who did my mum include in forming my personality and my worldview?
I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!
Cooking with kids is one of my favorite activities. I have to admit, I don’t do it often enough. Mostly because of the limited space in our kitchen where two is a crowd.
My parents would let us kids into the kitchen as often as they could. We were cooking family dinners at very young ages. I remember having to do all the peeling while my older siblings were taking care of the more complex things around the kitchen. My sister was the baker. As a young girl she was baking elaborate cakes, and to these days, she impresses people with her kitchen skills.
Due to both of my kids being burned in the past (just a little, but enough for them to remember), they are pretty standoffish to the idea of being too close to a hot stove. In this situation, making them help me while I bake is more enjoyable.
Also, our older daughter is very picky and I’m hoping that letting her be involved in the kitchen will help her become more open to foods. She loves sweets, of course, so I love baking with her. By doing it, I hope, being in the kitchen will be associated with something positive for her.
Both of the kids love our family cooking project: “quest for the best cinnamon rolls“. I feel like this project has made them, especially the picky one, very excited about being in the kitchen.
We started it 3 months ago, and so far we’ve tried 3 recipes. In the meantime we have also baked our regular cinnamon rolls several times.
Cooking with kids is fun and messy, and it’s a great opportunity to spend quality time with them. I’m always trying to sneak a little more of the good stuff into our recipes, and with baking, it seems like hiding the nutrients into the food is less of a hassle then fighting over eating a piece of a carrot. So, why not?
Our last recipe wasn’t really a cinnamon rolls recipe, but it was close enough for me to add it to our project. I got it from one of my clients, who saw me doing this project and she shared the link to this “Whole grain cinnamon swirl bread“.
I wanted to try it because of the of possibility of sneaking quinoa into the recipe as well as all kinds of different goodies.
Creating the whole-grain mix was a great thing to learn about, and I actually started using it in all kinds of recipes. My kids don’t even know they eat quinoa anymore. I’m loving it.
If you struggle with a picky eater, finding things in the kitchen that make them excited about food is really a great way to get around it. It makes them focus on the positive things in food, not the bad things.
With this project we are doing, I still let them be picky, and I find it interesting to see that our older daughter is less picky with eating what we bake than the younger one, who normally is very open to trying new things, and eating in general. Every time we bake new thing, the kids can express their thoughts about the dish. We talk about what they don’t like in it. And after that we get excited about the next recipe we will try.
How about you? Do you have any picky eaters in your home? Any interesting family projects going on? Please comment below to share!
Ewa was born, and raised in Poland. She graduated University with a master's degree in Mass-Media Education. This daring mom hitchhiked from Berlin, Germany through Switzerland and France to Barcelona, Spain and back again!
She left Poland to become an Au Pair in California and looked after twins of gay parents for almost 2 years. There, she met her future husband through Couch Surfing, an international non-profit network that connects travelers with locals.
Today she enjoys her life one picture at a time. She runs a photography business in sunny California and document her daughters life one picture at a time.
You can find this artistic mom on her blog, Ewa Samples Photography, on Twitter @EwaSamples or on Facebook!
A truly marvelous thing happened to me this month. Or perhaps more accurately, it was a series of interconnected events. Thanks to social media, I have reconnected with some of my closest friends from the past after a gap of about three decades. This has been a real roller coaster ride of fluctuating emotions. Rediscovering these special people from my childhood has triggered highs of emotions that I don’t remember experiencing since giving birth to my children.
Comparing our stories and memories of shared events has caused me to experience a real epiphany: people don’t always see us in the same way we see ourselves. For me this has caused real joy…and relief!
Since leaving England to live in southern Europe I have tried my best to reinvent myself. I wanted to leave behind the troubled child and young woman who never felt comfortable in her own skin, who was complex to an extreme degree because she was motherless from six years old and fatherless from 15. The memories of holiday gatherings and celebrations where I felt awkward and depressed were pretty difficult to shake off. The flighty attention seeking behaviour I used to exhibit as a teen has terrorised me over the years during many a losing battle with insomnia. It is true to say that I’m fairly embarrassed about the teenage girl I once was.
Although a good student and very quiet during lessons, the breaks/recess were a completely different story. I remember being loud and pretty flirtatious…yes, that makes me really blush now! It was my way of trying to get some of the attention I was desperately lacking at home. Quite simply, I don’t feel proud of the teenager I was. The memory I have imprinted of that time was OTT or Over The Top.
The staggering thing for me this month has been to learn that after three decades of avoiding trips down memory lane, those closest to me didn’t see things in the same way. One of my friends described me as being “witty, smart and knowing how things worked.” Another ‘bestie’ told me she found me funny, fun to be with and pretty mysterious as I didn’t like to talk about my family life.
Really? That’s how they saw me? Playful and teasing but NOT anywhere near as bad as I thought?
I have avoided going to reunions for all these decades because I was embarrassed to ‘inflict’ myself on my old schoolmates?
Wow! If only I had known all this earlier! I’m sure I would have been a much more confident young woman with a much brighter self image!
One of these old friends stayed up until the wee hours of the morning last night to scan and send me photos of our school exchange trip to Berlin, Germany, in the late 80’s. I realised that even after all these years good, decent kids usually remain good, decent adults and GREAT friends, too!
My message to you is keep tight hold of your childhood buddies and those closest to you. At some point down the road when you look back on your life, it is those people who will reaffirm the good in you and show you how others see us. These ‘treasures’ are priceless especially to those with low self-esteem.
Encourage your kids to keep up the ties they are forming now, and GO TO SCHOOL REUNIONS!
How many of you still keep contact with best friends from childhood? Do you think that you see yourself the same way as those closest to you, or do you tend to be more self-critical?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Ann Marie Wraight of Greece. Photo credit to the author.
Having lived in 4 different countries, Ann Marie finds it difficult to give a short answer about where she's from. She regards herself: Brit by birth, Aussie by nature, with a sprinkling of Greek and German based on her insatiable appetite for tasty food and chilled beer!
This World Mom has been married to her Greek soulmate for 16 years and they are the proud but constantly challenged parents of two overactive teenage boys. (She secretly wonders sometimes if she was given the wrong babies when she left the maternity clinic.) She can't explain the fascination and ability that her 13 and 14 year-olds show in math and physics or that both boys are ranked 1st and 2nd nationally in judo. Ann Marie can only conclude that those years of breastfeeding, eating home cooked meals and home tutoring really DO make a difference in academic and physical performance! The family is keeping its fingers crossed that---with the awful economic crash in Greece---continued excellence in math and/or judo will lead to university scholarships...
In addition to writing, enjoying a good glass of wine and movies, Ann Marie also works as a teacher and tends their small, free-range farm in the Greek countryside.
I used to visit the library every chance I had. It was my favorite place in the world. I loved its quiet atmosphere, the air thick and warm with stories, knowledge, wisdom, all ready to be discovered in hundreds of books.
And oh, the smell. I loved walking through those endless-looking shelves filled with books waiting to be read. I was a fast reader, and devoured books as if I was a hungry predator. I was always looking for a new book to read.
The selection of books was a meticulous process. I’d browse through the youth section of the library, searching for the perfect choice. I would take a book out and put it back, carefully study book covers and read the information on the back. I was very picky about the cover. The cover had to be pretty. If I wasn’t feeling it, I wasn’t reading it. If I didn’t like the cover, I wouldn’t even flip the book over to read the back. I was never going to read an ugly book.
The downside to being a fast reader and a picky book picker was that after a few months there were no more books to read.
No books with pretty book covers that is. Hesitantly I started perusing the youth section again, this time going for second best. I read Roald Dahl’s The Giant Peach, the one Roald Dahl book I had neglected to read because I didn’t like the cover.
I vividly remember how much fun I had reading that book. After that, I discovered one surprising book after another. They all revealed content that I never would have guessed from looking at the cover alone.
One day I read The Blooming Mimosa Tree by Gerda van Cleemput. For months I had kept putting the book back on the shelf because of its hideous cover. When I finally read it, it blew me away. The book told the life story of Helen Keller. I was intrigued and found my first real hero. I cried with her disappointments, cheered with her victories. When I had to walk down the stairs I closed my eyes and tried to find my way in the dark. I sat on my bed trying to imagine the sweet smell of mimosa flowers.
The book left a huge impression on me. It taught me the meaning of the word “perseverance”.
Yes, I learned a valuable lesson at that young age. I am wired to react to visuals, and I’m naturally drawn to pretty things. I guess we all are to some extent. We let our eyes guide us and motivate who or what to choose and how to judge. And by doing so we miss out on inspiring people, fabulous places and great experiences.
So say hello to that other mother who is not your kind of person. Give your best smile to that teenage girl covered in face piercings. Offer coffee to the eccentric old man across the street or offer to help that foreign family with their different manners and clothing. You may find a hidden treasure on the inside.
These days I’m still a little flaky when it comes to picking out books, and I’m still oversensitive to pretty book covers. When choosing a book I touch it, smell it, read the back, open up the book and read a few lines.
But I never ever judge a book by it’s cover. Because beauty isn’t always visible from the outside.
Are you tempted to judge people (or books) by the way they look? Tell me about the hidden treasures you have discovered when you ignored whatever it was that your eyes tried to tell you.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Mirjam of the Netherlands. Photo credit: Entressen kirjasto. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.
Mirjam was born in warm, sunny Surinam, but raised in the cold, rainy Netherlands.
She´s the mom of three rambunctious beauties and has been married for over two decades to the love of her life.
Every day she´s challenged by combining the best and worst of two cultures at home.
She used to be an elementary school teacher but is now a stay at home Mom. In her free time she loves to pick up her photo camera.
Mirjam has had a life long battle with depression and is not afraid to talk about it.
She enjoys being a blogger, an amateur photographer, and loves being creative in many ways.
But most of all she loves live and laughter, even though sometimes she is the joke herself.
You can find Mirjam (sporadically) at her blog Apples and Roses where she blogs about her battle with depression and finding beauty in the simplest of things. You can also find Mirjam on Twitter and Instagram.