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Un poil' enceinte et des poussiereuh

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January 2016

From Feeling Guilty To Feeling Great

 

 

Photo du 15-01-2016 à 17.19 #2.jpgSince I became a mom, everyday and at least once per day, I go on  a guilt trip. Everyday at least once, these words cross my mind «  you could be a better mother ». It can happen anytime. In the kitchen, yesterday, for example. The inner voice mutters slowly as I chew my food : « You could cook Maya. For the sake of your daughter. » While I swallow the last bite, Tulsi has reached the last stairs and from the top is looking at me her mouth full of chocolate. Her look is precious. She is pressing one chocolate bar in her left hand, agitating the other chocolate bar in her right hand. I should probably stop her but she looks so happy, crowned with glory.  My happiness if of short term. I now remember the words I once heard « sugar is bad for kids ». I stand up ready to confiscate the chocolate and show the example. I can’t explain though why I don’t do so and just step back. I can’t. I just can’t. Her face is too much. I know I’m guilty.

I don’t cook. I never cooked. And on top of this, i give sugar.

Twice guilty.

Now other thoughs are crossing my mind. I remind myself that I’m lucky to have someone cooking  for me. I then remember having heard somewhere a mother stating out loud «  I cook, I clean, I do everything and I’m great » and how it made me feel so awkard because I don’t cook, I don’t clean and I’m not feeling great.

I’m quite tired actually.

I check some mums groups online sharing their worries. I feel compassion and I realize how most of them are worried when I’ve never really shown so much concern about my daughter’s health. Not that I’m not aware at all, I have myself a healthy diet and lifestyle but I’m not over concerned. I give her simple food, the food I eat myself, and I keep on breastfeeding. I cuddle her, when she’s sick i stay with her.  That’s it. I’ve rarely done any elaborated researches on each fruit and vegetable or ideal diet for a child her age.

Scrolling the computer, I give it a thought and tell myself : why am I so relaxed ? If I were a good mother, I wouldn’t be relaxed. I’d be doing researches, I’d be worrying, I would be caring ! And I hear the voice muttering again : you’re a bad mother…

Then there are these moments when I’m with my daughter and I just let her do her things and I do my owns. I’m happy, she’s happy. Her little dog toy with no name is happy. She’s dragging him behind her. Everything is fine. But then out of a sudden, a feeling overtakes me into a sea of doubts and remorses. The feeling that I could be with her « more ».

So I grab a book, start to read it to her but nope she’s not interested. I grab another book, thinking this one might work – not interested. And then I wonder, and I even tell myself, maybe it’s my fault if she’s not interested. I must be lacking in method that some mothers may have developed to make their kids absorbed when they read to them. I remember once a mother told me that she’d read for more than half an hour to her daughter the same age of mine every night. «  And she adores it ! » she cried out with a satisfied look. I starred at her, motionless, wondering why I was not able to share the same experience with my daughter.

Everyday, I think about my life, about how lucky I am. I don’t need to work from morning to night, I have a supportive husband, I have a wonderful woman at home helping with everything from cooking to taking care of Tulsi. Compared to many mums, I’m truly blessed.

Yet, with all this, I’m still feeling tired. I’m still not sleeping through the night, I still struggle sometimes with being a mom. My precious free time still doesn’t seem enough to me. I’ve always been a free bird and having a kid in a way stops me from flying. What am I, some kind of freak or a desperate case ?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot to tell you the truth. I’ve been thinking about why I’m feeling guilty.

And then I reconsidered my thoughts. I’ve had this call that maybe guilt was not just a bad thing. Maybe the urge to get rid of it immeditately as if it didn’t matter wasn’t my only option. I though that if it did exist, it could be for a good and valid reason. It’s not just about the pressure of society (yet society indeed pressures us), it might also be something related to our biology which urges us to take care of our progeniture the best way possible. I though that I was indeed lucky to come to such realisation. Intellectualizing it didn’t erase the feeling of course but rather made it visible. And what is visible can become a friend rather than an enemy.

Our worst ennemies are not visible.

So now that I had established that i felt guilty for a reason, how could I live with this guilt everyday ? How could I make guilt something more meaningful than the remorseful state it leaves in me ? How could the guilt become constructive ?

Pondering on it, I’ve though of specific situations of guilt, such as the fact that I don’t cook and I don’t talk much to my daughter. I’ve tried to come back to my intuition. If I’m not able to talk a lot to my daughter, is it because I don’t love her or is it because I show my love differently ? I looked up for the positive things I did for my daughter and tried to enumerate them. I’ve done a list. I breastfeed her on demand which takes a lot of my energy, I buy her books practicaly every week which means I think of her future as a reader, I cuddle her at night, I might not cook for her but I make sure someone is doing it. As I was enumerating the positive aspects of my kind of parenting, I also tried to remember who I was. I never was someone who loved to cook, I always liked to be busy all the times, have plenty of projects, realize myself artistically, I realized that this was me, and the projection of the perfect mother I was desperatly trying to follow just didn’t look like me. Why would someone want to be someone else ? I mean, why would someone,in the name of a perfect mother image, change his true nature ? I like to draw, I like to put my creativity into drawing and writting. So I though, this is me. I’m the mom who draws. This is what Tulsi has. A mother who likes to draw because drawing makes her feel good, because it gives meaning to her daily life. And by giving meaning to my life, I can surrender the pain for example of not being able to sleep at night because I breastfeed and havent night weaned yet.

This realisation made me feel amazing. First, I got rid of a lot of guilt, I acknowledge that we human beings are unique in our ways and that we shouldn’t change just to please dogmas or theories of what things should be like, I realized that this love that I had for my daughter was expressing itself in its unique way, and that our relationship was unique, with it flaws of course. But is any relationship perfect ? I also realized that my daughter would have to live with her mother who is not only her mother but a woman, with her idiosyncrasies, and that, if I gave her enough love, she would understand and accept me as I am, and if she didn’t, she would have to do the work to accept me, because becoming adults and grown-ups is also about accepting our parents for who they are and their part in the play of life.

If we use guilt in a good way, it can become empowering. Those two words seem contradictory I know, but aren’t things just so paradoxal and do we have to choose between two extremes or rather understand the roots of the guilt trip to be able to manage it ?

When I realized how I felt, i started to organize myself, to believe in my capacities. It’s really funny how from a negative feeling you can build something better for yourself and your surrounding, if you just can change your perspective on things.

This empowerement, this liberation that was caused by the realization that we are unique human beings doing our best in being who we are, in being happy with ourselves first in order to serve others, really saved me. It doesn’t matter if we fit or not to the ideals that society impose on us, what matters is that we are happy to wake up, happy to participate in this crazy world, in our own terms. I remembered how when I was a little girl, I had so many dreams, and I thought I still want to be that little girl, and I want my daughter to see a woman who loves life and communicate it to others.

 

Cooking food can wait. Happiness can’t.

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What your father would have written

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It’s true, your father didn’t write on this blog. But in his own way, he is an amazing story teller and in his own way, in his simple existence, he wrote through me.

Every word here is shaped by the subtle and  gross existence of your father from the day you were conceived to the day you were born to the day you saw him for the first time in the eyes and said : baba.

You may want to know more, and I will tell you more. I will tell you for example that during the labour, your father stood behind me for four hours in a row, with nothing to drink, nothing to hang on to, and prayed non stop repeating the mantra “om”. He saw blood, suffering, he heard me yelling like a psycho, yet he kept repeating the mantra Om until you were out of my womb and then he held you and put you against his chest so you would feel the heat, so you would be warm and safe.

I will tell you  that when you were born, you didn’t sleep next to me the first night, but on the chest of your father, and of the beautiful picture of you two, lying on the bed, I remember your synchronised breath like a delicious and surrealistic music.

I will tell you also that when you started to cry the second night you were born, your father was trying to find a way out. He held you, walked and bounced you on the terrasse under the stars, and despite all his efforts to confort you, you kept on crying and so your father looked at me and out of  despair and tiredness, we nervously laughed, so hard that our stomach would hurt.

I will tell you that when your father was away and then would be back, he’d always say : ” Now, she does that and that” with pride, noticing every change, every move forward, every difference in your ways of being you.

I will tell you that in the moments of darkness he stood by me, allowed me to cry, allowed me to complain, allowed me to be myself, allowed me to say ” I hate you” when I felt desperate or “I can’t make it anymore” when I was burnout. Your father would listen, say nothing and just hug me till the storm would pass.

I will tell you that when I felt  I wasn’t myself anymore, your father would always say that I’m your mother and that he loves me more now because I’m your mother cause he sees me through you and he loves you so much that he loves what he sees through you.

I will tell you that since you were born, your father introduced you to all the variety of plants that he grows in our garden, that your father showed them to you numerous times, naming them in french, in arabic and in english so you recall them, and I will tell you that once he trusted you so much that you ended up eating a chili pepper -your face bursting into fire and your tongue looking for relief on my breast- and your father felt so guilty about it that he came to me like a little child asking for forgiveness.

I will tell you that every morning when he wakes up, you are the first face that he wants to see, and everytime he sees you, his face illuminates like a bowling sun.

I will tell you that when we go outside, he always wonders whether we should take you with us or not, even when the places are reserved for adults. Your father always believes that you belong everywhere and that you can do anything.

If you father had to write about you, about being a father,  I think it would sound like the most beautiful love poem of all.

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I’m Not A Supermom ( and don’t want to be one)

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Words have powers. I may say super powers.

That’s why I’m always careful about what I read and mostly interested about the commentators and their insights.

Words are so powerful that they can trick us, lie to us, make us believe that life should stick to some attractive simplistic wording.I’ve seen many times posts on facebook telling the moms that they are «supermothers » or « superwomen » and some of them bragging about it or supporting this idea. Like, these cartoons of moms, doing the multitasking and everyone is putting smileys and stating « yes that’s so true ! » as if it was banal.

Why is it that when I see those cartoons (that yes are funny in their own ways), I have a little rictus followed by the intuition that somehow we are banalizing the multitasking suffering of many thousands of (millions) mothers around the world ?

Then there is this appelation « superwoman » ou « supermother » or supersomething, as if we were in a kind of competition or a kind of festival where you receive an oscar for being a mother. Women with powers, that’s how we are being represented. Superwomen if you prefer.

But I’m not any of that.

To be honest, I’m not a supermom, never was and never will be. When I don’t feel like changing the diaper of my daughter, I don’t take on myself, i say it out loud, I tell my husband to help me, I say : « it’s your turn ». It doesn’t make me feel bad about myself, or guilty or powerless.

When I don’t feel like spending the whole day with my daughter, I express it. I don’t say : there’s no other way, I have to sacrifice completely.

Nope. I do know the difference between being responsible and being a martyr. And I’m not a martyr. There’s no way I’ll be a martyr. There’s no way I don’t express once in a while if not everyday what I need to balance my life as a woman and a mother.

When i do actually breastfeed my daughter still, I’m really, but REALLY, not proud of it. I’m not doing it to prove anything to the world ( if I want to prove something to the world, I’ll do by different means). No. I breastfeed because I want to breastfeed and I’m confortable with it, but if at some point I can’t take it anymore ( And this some point could be tomorrow) well I will stop. I won’t stick to any dogma of any kind telling me that I should do it for two years or more. I will follow my intuition. And this intuition is not some kind of superpower, it’s just intuition.

I’m tired of tired mums not standing up for themselves, no speaking out their truth, not realising that they can be mothers and women at the same time. And of course, I’m tired of husbands and families who don’t offer support.

You who are reading me you are probably a mum and I’m talking to you. I’m telling you : you have nothing to prove baby and you must always remember to care about yourself. To cuddle yourself, have your own space and never think in terms of sacrificying to the point that you are sacrificying yourself.

The thing is your baby needs you to be happy. He needs it more than anything in the world. If you’re not happy, you might give him the milk but you won’t as Erich Fromm puts it  « give him the honey ». So be true to yourself, to your specific needs and ask for support.

I’ve talked to so many mothers who think they have already lost the battle against what seems to them ” fatality”and are just going to «put their life entre parenthèses”.

But come on, this is not what motherhood is about ! Motherhood is indeed a big challenge made of some sacrifices but it shouldn’t stop us from being ourselves and treat ourselves right ! There is always a way out, a way to stand for our rights and sanity and yes we might not be superwomen or supermoms but we are responsible adults and we are, at some point responsible of our mental health.

And what is valid and fine for your neighbourg might not be valid to you. What suits one doesn’t necessarily suit someone else. There’s nothing like supermoms. There are only moms, different moms, beautiful and unique moms in their ways of being moms.

Period.

And we should never compare one with another. It’s like comparing kids, it is useless, mean and never worth it. If you who are reading me are not mums and want to help a mum then give pieces of advice or listen. I’m  tired of people who won’t give any practical advice but just say that you are wonderful in what you are doing when in fact you are asking for help.

Real help.

Really, do you think we need to be told constantly that we are amazing because we gave birth? Do you think motherhood is some kind of romance? I’d rather have someone telling me the truth, telling me that I need to take a break, breathe, change my haircut then someone seeing me as the perfect cliche that stupid adverts on telly vehiculate.

I’m not a supermom but I’m Tulsi’s mother and I want her to grow with a heatlhy humanbeing who stands up for herself so one day she will stand up for herself!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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