“I thought I could love my children enough to push out all their insecurities. In my heart I was hoping that the surety of my love would be enough for them to know how much they are valued.” I told my friend this a couple months ago when I called her, crying and at my end because of a hurtful exchange between my son and I. I was shocked and deeply hurt by what he said to me but I also was stopped short enough to really think hard about what was happening and why I was reacting the way I was. In essence, what he said made me feel like he thought that I valued him less than my other children, less than my husband or myself. His self-talk over the years has clued me in to pain that he carries, yet this felt like a big blow. After talking through it with my friend and giving myself time, I spoke with H about it and we were able to understand where each other was coming from more. But the exchange has stayed with me.
When I was able to put that hurt into those words I realized how desperately I want for my children not to struggle with insecurities like I have. How in the deep of my heart there is this mama bear that fiercely wants to pave the way for them and see them through this life journey – see them walking confidently, with joy and courage and excitement for what is to come. But all of that happening isn’t dependent on how much I love them. It will come more from how I love them. How I allow them the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them. To try things, to feel pain, to learn how to come back stronger from that pain. To figure how who they are. To feel validation in their struggles and in their insecurities. To feel validated in every emotion they experience.
My friend reminded me to remember that our kids are not an extension of us. They are their own separate person with their own set of experiences, emotions, and their own way of processing. Their own view. Their own response. Some of this is shaped by us as parents but some of this is who they are. I have to honor them as individuals. I cannot control how they choose to respond and I have to stop letting their chosen response decide how I will respond and how I will move forward. I am me. I want the freedom to be me. I need to be loved as me. All my messy parts and all the together parts. They need to be loved as they are, right where they are as well.
I want them to grow to be strong humans with a strong sense and confidence in who they are. Controlling or attempting to control their response is not honoring of that goal. I want them to know who they are, to love who they are, to be strong in who they are. I can help them to get there by validating them in their emotions. To be honest in my struggles. To let them see my humanness, my short-comings, my quirks, my struggles and how I work to overcome and work toward change. I need to meet them in their humanness, in their short-comings, in their quirks, in their struggles with love and mercy. It is all I need in the face of mine. When I have been loved, without stipulation, in the face of my short-comings, when I have been shown mercy in my failing, when I have been validated in the heat of my strong emotions, it is then that I have felt able and strong enough to be the real, true me. To confidently stride into this world, knowing that I am enough just as I am.
Mama’s, be encouraged today. When we are our open, honest, real, messy, true selves, when we allow ourselves that freedom, our children will benefit ten-fold by having that example set before them and the freedom from us to be that themselves.