What does being a parent mean to you?
When I was asked to write this piece I was full of every parenting cliché; statements we’ve all heard and emotions I’m sure every parent has felt. This spurred me on to consider what alternative angle I could take this weighty question.
As a first time parent to a very young baby, what unexpected feelings have I experienced and how have they shaped the kind of mother I am; what does it really mean to be a parent. One recurring emotion continually resurfaced; vulnerability. This was a strange concept for me to comprehend. It was only after a few weeks of being with my baby and holding his little body in my arms that I truly recognised this feeling.
I genuinely believe when you are in love, you give yourself fully to that person; I wear my heart on my sleeve and I give love with all of me, everything that I am. But the way you love as a parent is so much more than that; it is so overwhelming, whole-hearted and encompassing that it leaves you feeling vulnerable.
Your heart is open; it’s on display.
It’s there for the world to see and for people to stare, use, hurt and this is the most difficult feeling to grapple with. This little person, unknowingly, has the ability to bring you joy like you’ve never experienced as well as break your heart in an instant. I, as a mother, still have a very long way to go yet; and I’m sure there will be many instances where my child will purposely do things to make me feel both ends of the emotional spectrum. But at the moment, in the very short sixteen weeks of his life so far, the immense joy I have felt with his little smile in the morning alongside the unbelievable despair and sadness at the thought of having to leave him or when he is hurt (damn those injections!) has made me realise that this child is the ruler of my heart. If he has the power in this relationship, where does that leave me?
That leaves me vulnerable.
But it’s the best kind of vulnerability because it means opening up as far as who you are; yes that level of exposure has the ability to cause emotional anguish but it also allows for unprecedented joy and that far outweighs anything else in your life. Thus I can say in the short time I have occupied the role, being a parent means exposing yourself, putting your prized possession out there and embracing everything that comes with that level of vulnerability.
What advice would you give to another parent?
This is tricky; this is all very new to me, I don’t have masses of experience or pearls of wisdom I think are worthy of imparting on others. But one thing I have learnt on my journey so far is to not strive for the impossible; perfection.
We are constantly being told how to be better, overloaded with information, motherhood tips on demand, but how can the BEST be better? Because that is what we are, as mothers, we are the best for our child. So trust yourself, believe in your natural ability. I personally had so many doubts, so many looming questions and insecurities about my readiness for the biggest role in my life, but I genuinely believe we are only given as much as we can handle.
Life has a funny way of teaching us how durable we really are. So my advice is to stop trying to be the perfect parent and just enjoy every moment, I know I am.