The importance of being YOU May 27 2015 1 Comment

With all of the self help and positive affirmation mumbo jumbo on the internet these days, we can barely scroll through Instagram for two minutes before seeing another quote about being “true to yourself” or “love yourself and all of your flaws”. 

   

I agree, don’t get me wrong I am not criticising this new wave of positivity sweeping through mainstream society. Those hippies were onto something.

What I want to say, is that it is HARD to be these things. I have finally succumbed to embracing my own body and being grateful for my strength. Ten years go I would have swapped my strong frame for a lithe body in an instant. But if you’d told me that I wouldn’t have been able to carry four babies so well, or survive all of the ups & down that I did in my thirties without collapsing in a frail heap, I hope that I would have thought twice about swapping what I have. I have rolls and dimples I never had before, but I rarely get sick and I feel strong and healthy. Something I have only been grateful for since becoming a Mum and heaven forbid - older. 

Now onto the mental stuff. Luckily for me I have always had good self esteem. In my teens my frown and somewhat shyness may have given others the perception that I was arrogant or ‘up myself’. Somehow even back then, I didn’t really care what other people thought of me. This confused my friends. I didn’t need to be liked by every girl in school and if I didn’t get invited to every party on the weekend, I genuinely wasn’t phased. I definitely didn’t need a boyfriend, I was too busy for that. 

Now as a parent, I try to remember what my Mum and Dad did throughout our childhood to instill that in us. When I work it out, I will let you know. I do clearly remember my Dad stopping me to tell me I was beautiful every time I left the house (biased, clearly). I never remember my Mum fussing about make up, talking about her weight or being on a diet.

That stuff is so important. The little things, day after day after day just building me up.

To have a strong sense of self is SO important. I think even more important for teenagers today with all of the additional obstacles they have in front of them. I don’t even want to think about how it will be in another decade when our boys are going through the teenage years. Clearly I am no self help guru and I only did two years of the psychology part of my Arts degree so I am not going to go any further on how to raise kids with great self esteem. I wish I had the answer. 

Now that my children are entering school age, I am around Mums who have more of a “life” to themselves again. My friendship group has evolved from the “Mothers Group” type conversations about when to change from two day sleeps to one and the joys of toilet training, to more ‘adult’ responsibilities once again.

It is refreshing. The fog is clearing. 

These women have amazing careers, they have started their own innovative businesses, they volunteer for charities, they run the school parents association, all while raising mostly happy children. Amazing. 

But some have lost “themselves” a little bit. Totally understandable after being in the “trenches” of child rearing and putting themselves last for so long. I have been there too and it is definitely not a criticism, merely an observation. 

It is very common that after you send your last child off to school and if you are not working (in traditional paid employment), you suddenly have at least six hours to yourself through the day. Sometimes you just don't know what to do with all those hours to feel fulfilled in yourself. Of course there are plenty of jobs to take up your time like cooking, cleaning, washing, chasing after everyone else etc etc. But I mean the things that make you feel good, give you your own purpose

Once the buzz of coming home to a clean house and finally organising the linen closet wears off and you have settled into a good routine of actually doing consistent exercise, you start to think about “what else is there?” For the lucky few the answers are obvious, but for those who throughout their marriage or once their children arrived, have lost their sense of self a little, this can be a difficult question to answer.

Unfortunately life can not guarantee that you will be with your partner until you both pass peacefully in your sleep together one night. Even if you’re lucky enough to have something like this, as the years go on, there will be more time to yourself. For yourself. So if we can teach our children, in particular our daughters, to find their passions and what makes them feel good and somehow manage to keep that throughout their whole life, that is a huge achievement. That way they will never be alone. They will never be unfulfilled. 

Once they have children and finally get some hours back to themselves, they will have a long list of awesome things they want to achieve.  Or shock horror, they choose to never have children. Women are amazing and have so much to give. Yes sorry, we are givers. By having something that is truly your OWN, it makes you feel good. Not something you do with your partner or your kids, but something for you. A job you enjoy, a hobby, an exercise goal, a cause that you volunteer for.

My own Mum led my example. If you read my Mother’s Day post you’d remember how she studied, worked, volunteered and renovated us through our childhood. How she coped emotionally when she lost my Dad and she was alone for the first time since she was 16 years old. All with four kids. 

These children of ours are watching us, they are learning from how we cope with life’s everyday, little obstacles as well as huge hurdles. I think it’s really important to show our children that we are just not their Mum, running their home. We are so much more than that. Find your mojo for yourself and for your kids. You’ll be busier, but you’ll be happier I am sure.

The sooner us girls are really running the world, the better.