Monday, July 15, 2024

Unconditionally Loving …. Me?

January 31, 2014 by  
Filed under Parenting From Balance©

There is no such thing as “conditional love.”  Love, by definition, is UNconditional.

Which brings me to some thoughts about self compassion and self-acceptance (the only keys to parenting in an unconditionally loving way….)

Lately I have really been meditating on seeing who I am NOW.  Forget about the past 30 or 40 or 50 (yikes!) years of changes I have grown through.  Over the past year alone my family has been in an interesting and percolating transitional state, and the journey has sometimes been really rough.  When I finally think I have a handle on the shifted life I lead, I have a day when my personal best dips frigidly below zero… like yesterday.

Just as I was ready to shatter, into tears, like the corelle-ware bowl I had shockingly smashed earlier in the day (I think of the restaurant in Japan where, at the conclusion of the meal, people march in file to a courtyard where they passionately smash their dinnerware down a deep well.  What a great, healthy and non violent way to process big, amorphous feelings!)   And so, just as I was ready to burble out my pain, I heard a familiar and unwelcome voice taunting and stopping up my tears: “Why are you sad?  Shame!  You should be grateful! Look at what you have!”

(If a random stranger was saying these things, we would have a special regard for them, wouldn’t we??)

In retaliation to that critical voice in my head, I chose to rewind and replay the other recording…the one with the supportive voice:  “You have so much going on right now!” “You are amazing.”  “You are doing great job!” “You have so much going on right now….”

I have often found myself really feeling vindicated when people around me say “you have a lot going on.”  I have needed to hear them agree that my load was “heavy” in order to relax my critical self-talk.

But this time, even though I tried to listen and believe, my supportive voices were drowned out by the persistent choir of shaming critics who were summarily judging my job as a peaceful parent.

As I gazed out into the rolling plains and pastures lying at the foot of the Siskiyous  – the town I had recently brought my children to, to be enriched and nurtured – I sat with that fact:  I had failed as a mother.

I Had Failed.

Biiiiig Sighhhh.

And as I sat with that, one small voice, like the trumpeter from Whoville, meekly poked a squeak out of the dank depressed fog: “Why?’

It suddenly became clear: the only person who needs to judge my load as being “too much” is me!  “Too much” is an individual thing.  (Hello!)  What is too much for me might be just right for the rest of the world and that just doesn’t even matter!  Eureka AND Hallelujah!!!  I am always doing the best I can, because if I could have done better I would have!  I am learning to accept myself as perfect just as I am (just as I regard my children; and just so I CAN regard them as such.)

When I am having a rough time I go through that important list with myself: am I tired? scared? hungry? lonely….?   I think about what The Four Agreements says, “Always do your best.  And know that your best will fluctuate day to day, depending on whether your needs are met.”  And that is Just Perfect.

I saw today that the unforgiving voice in my head was just a childhood memory… a harsh critic berating my dear little girl, Linda.  And when I acknowledge  how lovingly and tenderly I do care for my children throughout the days, I recognize that I have the capacity to love myself thusly.  I am reparenting myself as the gentle, passionate and DEVELOPING parent I authentically am.

I am putting Superwoman to bed, permanently, in lieu of loving myself “as is.”

and Lots of Love to you, too, dear reader.

Linda Shannon



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