This past week in our circles a theme kept emerging - it started with comments like:
I'm so excited my 15-month old is walking, but I'm also mourning that his baby days are over.
I desperately want a break from holding the baby, and I miss her when she's not with me.
I feel proud of my body, and am frustrated that my clothes don't fit like they used to.
We often feel like we have to choose one of the sides of each of these situations - but both can be true.
I think that one of the hardest things about being a parent is having two seemingly conflicting thoughts at the same time. It can leave us feeling confused, vulnerable, and uncertain. We often then dive down into a rabbit hole of judging ourselves for how we feel - calling in guilt or shame as we wrestle with the "right" way to think ("I should ALWAYS want to be with my baby," for example... dive deeper into the shoulds here).
In these moments, it can be helpful to acknowledge or even thank the thoughts that come up - noticing, without judgement, how they may ping pong back and forth: "wow! I'm so thrilled this baby can move himself around and explore the world. Oh gosh this means he's really growing up and he's my last baby. I'm going to miss his snuggles. I am so thrilled I don't have to carry him everywhere anymore!" Can be met with, "thanks brain, for giving me so much information to consider!"
You are allowed to have two (or more) thoughts or feelings at the same time. And both can be true!
Part of getting accustomed to this inevitable part of parenting is practicing. Practicing allowing the thoughts or feelings without judging them (or yourself for having them). Here's one way to get started:
See if you can notice the feelings in your body - the excitement fluttering in your chest, sadness around your eyes or as a lump in your throat. Embarrassment as warmth in your cheeks. Be curious about where they are. Welcome the thoughts, feelings and sensations, and allow them to pass through your body, or even stay a while.
Simply being with the discomfort of the dissonant feelings will often allow them to pass through and teach us along the way that we are complex, thoughtful beings, instead of launching us into a shame spiral.
See if you can find some time to notice when these contradictory feelings come up and if you can sit with them instead of trying to find the "right" answer right away. And let us know how it goes!
Image source: https://www.instagram.com/p/CYuCiOhpNxD/
Thoughts on pregnancy, birth and motherhood.