When I became a mom, I had no idea what I was doing.
I became a new mom at the very young age of 23. My own mom had died when I was 16, and the weight of new motherhood pressed heavily on me. I wanted to do it all right, I wanted to make few mistakes. I was absolutely obsessed with making sure I followed all the “rules.” I read all the books, read all the blogs, and drove my husband crazy. One night my husband was doing something with the baby (who can remember now) but she was quiet and happy and content. I didn’t see it that way. Whatever he was doing, I told him the book said that was the wrong way, and he needed to stop. He looked at me and said, “I’m going to throw all those books out the window, you need to follow your instincts and relax!” Pshhh, what did he know, men. I did not follow his sage advice at that time.
I allowed this hyper anxious approach to motherhood to continue. I began to look at the mothers around me as a way to scale how I was doing. Judging myself against them. What I was searching for was someone to emulate. I wanted a mom I could look up too, like a self help book, but live and in person. Someone who seemed perfect, confident, doing it all right. Someone the exact opposite of me, obviously. If I followed all her techniques and styles, I would get the result I was looking for in myself and in my child. I wanted a clear plan and path to follow.
So much time and energy I wasted on such a futile ideal. As I grew in myself and motherhood and added two more kids, the more I looked around the more I realized there was not one person/mother who I wanted to be exactly like. We all have different strengths, weaknesses, different kids and visions of what we want our home to look like. Each of us a trailblazer in our own right, forging new paths for our created families. Every mother is a trailblazer and for that I find myself in admiration of every mother’s journey. And, furthermore, every mother’s journey is not my own.
Defenition of a trailbalzer; noun
trail·blaz·er | \ ˈtrāl-ˌblā-zər \
The foundation of our “forest” is different. Some of us are starting out with a very unhealthy forest, with lots of brush, little sunlight and deep rooted trees. We have to cut back the brush and pull up the trees from their roots, that takes work, and dedication. Your backpack is going to be filled with all kinds of tools, different than the woman next to you. The path you are forging is going to take a lot more sweat, blood and tears. Comparing ourselves to the other mothers will only lead to frustration. You have no idea what her forest looks like or what tools she has in her pack.
We were all raised different, gleaning from our own childhoods, whether good or bad (usually a mixture of both) and putting those things into our parenting. We have different goals and values. We are all guiding our children based on those principles. For some, monetary success and others relational success, some value school over all else and others feel church, sports or music should play an integral role in their children’s lives. Some think saying ‘yes m’am” and “yes sir” are absolutely vital to raising respectful kids, some not so much. None of them wrong, most lay someplace in the middle, all of them make up the fabric of our diverse culture.
What is my vision, what do I value over all else? What brush needs to be cut back and roots pulled in my own heart and mind? What is the path I am blazing for my children to follow?