This week I’ve begun a cycle of sessions with a mother from Morocco. A new adventure; an opportunity for both of us to improve.
This woman has, unknowingly, given me a gift: a sense of pride for having been part of the journey of women from the five continents. This is something I had not reflected upon till today. The truth is, despite the many kilometres between them, their stories have resonated in a very similar way. From Australia, Brazil, Holland, Japan, Canada or Spain; these mothers’ hopes, their worries and aspirations are basically the same. Rania of Jordan once said that one thing every culture has in common is mothers’ tears. It doesn’t matter where we come from; we are united by a feeling of immense love that allows us to understand each other.
Accompanying these women every day in their sessions is my greatest luck. An honor that gives me the opportunity to implement one of the family values that was mostly instilled in me: “keep learning, always”. Their stories resonate with me; I identify with them, and so when they move forward I do too. Alongside them.
Here are a few of the lessons I received from these mothers:
-You are doing fine: Every mother that attends my creative thinking courses receives a notebook with this sentence written on the cover. Because their overall feeling is, sadly, that “I can’t cope”, “I don’t know where to begin”, “the hours are not enough”…
In the past it was enough to feed, clothe and care for your children with love. Now that doesn’t seem to be enough. Dinners need to be bio, local and “instagramable”. We have to create amazing crafts without ruining our super nail polish, wear high heels even on the school run… We are trapped inside unattainable, idealistic canons that plunge us into frustration and a general feeling of “not measuring up”.
Don’t let society or the falsity of the virtual world fill you with guilt. Don’t allow it to tell you how your kids should be or what they should enjoy. Raising children is already a tough job. Let’s not make it harder. If your child wakes up happy in the morning, you are doing it very well.
-Don’t rush: “my son still doesn’t walk”, “she still doesn’t read like her classmates”, “his English is still not good enough”…Raising children has become a race. What’s the hurry? Years will fly by, whether we want it or not. Let’s make sure every child walks at their own pace so they can discover their own music.
-That too, shall pass: grandmothers are well aware of this advice. Because you have to go through many stages (and sometimes several children) to understand that motherhood is all a matter of cycles and that the secret is to embrace each one while maintaining a long-term vision. When we are in a cycle, (the colics, the tantrums, their teens…) it seems endless and we can’t see beyond it. But it passes, in the end it always passes. And it gives us the patience and wisdom to continue. Take a deep breath and embrace the stage you are at now. You’ll realize it has plenty to teach you.
-The answer you seek is within you: another phrase I repeat during the workshops is “these techniques are not forever, or for everyone”. You may read thousands of manuals or consult dozens of experts, but no one knows your child the way you do. When in doubt, instead of opening the popular book, listen to your inner voice. Your best ally is your instinct; ask it what you ought to do.
-Happy mothers make for happy children: sometimes the best gift you can give your children is to give yourself some time. Find moments for yourself each day; continue cultivating your interests and friendships. You’ll face your time with them with more richness and serenity.
-Help them improve, but don’t change their essence: we are so busy trying to raise perfect children that we forget they already are. Each in their own way, but they are. Our mission is not to tame them, but to embrace their wild side and run next to them.
Thanks to all the mothers who have decided to walk with me and shine a brighter light on my path.
Pictures Miki Ávila