Following on from yesterday’s post, (and thank you for all the wonderful, honest and supportive comments) I wanted to expand some more on why we feel such parenting guilt and then share with you the ways in which I’m hoping to reach out to parents who feel the same way.
Do you ever feel intimidated by other parents? I know I do. And that’s nothing to do with those parents, it’s entirely my perception and lack of confidence. For example, I have a friend who is, from my perspective, the most wonderful mother. She forest schools, she crafts, creates, home cooks, never watches the TV, and her child is well behaved and wonderfully advanced. And whenever we meet, I just feel totally inadequate and like a completely shit parent. And this is all based on my own insecurity.
I think this is also the reason I struggle in the school playground, and almost fear talking to other parents. I’m sure if I had the confidence to go speak to them, I’d be more than welcomed. But when I have two kids tantruming and running in opposite directions, I just don’t have the energy to make friends, especially when I feel embarrassed that I can’t control my kids and I’m just assuming I’m being judged all the time. The reality is, we all have moments when our kids are out of control jerks! And I only ever look at those parents with empathy, as I’m sure they are doing the same for me. Yet I’m still too afraid to reach out. Recently, my eldest daughter stopped to pick a dandelion as we were waking back to the car, to give to her classmate. I have no idea why, but I felt so embarrassed I just said “Put that back please, she doesn’t want a weed”. I then felt the need to apologise to the parent, who turned and made a big fuss and thanked my daughter for being so kind. This parent was 100% correct, and I felt like a total failure. It’s one of those cringe moments that I lose sleep over.
Why was that my reaction? Because society teaches us to compare ourselves with other people, and that other people’s opinions of us are what matter the most. You only need to open a magazine, turn on the TV or scroll through your social media to see this. We are constantly being told what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s hot and what’s not, and what we should be striving to achieve. Almost every other sponsored advert on my Facebook feed at the moment is about trying to be a perfect parent. The algorithms are literally taunting me!
I’m sure there are value in all of these methods, but truthfully, it only adds to the feelings of failure for not getting it right. Maybe some days my kids do need to be told off, maybe some days I need them on their tablets so I can get things done, maybe some days I don’t have the time, energy or enthusiasm to write a journal with them, maybe some days they’re just being whiney and listening to them won’t change a damn thing (it will probably just make it worse!).
None of these things make me a bad parent, they make me a HUMAN parent. And the internet needs to stop guilting people into thinking they’re doing it wrong. If the World were more honest, most of us wouldn’t be feeling so damn insecure all the time. In fact, we’d be thriving as parents. And subsequently, we’d be less inclined to yell at our kids, we’d have less need to distract them with screens, and we’d be more inclined to invest time into listening to and nurturing them, because our own cups would be so full of self worth, forgiveness, honesty and appreciation, that all that stuff would naturally spill out on to our kids. The key here is self-care.
Back to good old Queer icon, Ru Paul - “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?”
Cliche as it may be, there’s so much truth to this quote. As an adult, the closest I’ve come to feeling free of judgement and totally alive in the moment was when I did my kids yoga training. I hadn’t necessarily realised how confined I’d become, and how much I absolutely needed to release my inner child. There’s so much healing to be done from our childhoods, regardless of how good or bad they were, it’s impossible not to be affected by our conditioning in one way or another. Being able to truly let go and embrace silliness and fun was a completely eye opening and uplifting experience for me. I cannot tell you how many years of pent up fears and frustrations I released in those three days. Honestly, it was the most transformational experience of my adult life, and I didn’t even need to get drunk to enjoy it!! And now I think I need to remind myself to do that again, to be more silly, to embrace my inner child, so that I can have the confidence and self-love to do the same for my kids.
As a fellow struggling parent, here’s what I want to offer you…
1. Let’s start a parenting network. A group where we can share, support each other, be honest without fear of judgement, and also be damn silly and have a good laugh. Who’s in? 2. If you can escape for a day, I’m hosting a ‘Healing the Inner Child’ retreat day in Corehampton on Sunday 5th May. We’re going to be doing some inner child healing meditation work, some super-fun and silly yoga, some forest schooling, and some journaling. It’s truly what every stressed parent needs. 3. If you can escape for a long weekend, from 28th April - 1st May I will be hosting a retreat in North Devon, focused on honouring the past, present and future you. I have one room still available, it can be single or double/twin occupancy. It’ll be a weekend of nourishing, healing and self-love, plus a good dollop of fun on the side!
There’s more to come from me in this area, but for now this is where I’m at in terms of my mission to bring honesty and comfort to stressed out parents.
Much love to you all and your little ones