As a fairly new mother, I am realizing that parenting forces you to into a completely different headspace.
One of the first things that changes is your perspective. This occurs when the reality of being responsible for the well-being of another human being, for shaping their path through the world, sinks in. In my case, there was the panic that came with the idea of adding to humankind, a panic I sometimes describe as being trapped in a barrel that is careening downhill, with no end in sight. In those moments, I would attempt to arrest the overwhelming dread with silent affirmations of “you can do this,” over and over, along with deep, calming breaths. They didn’t always work, but there were times when they were helpful.
Parenting also causes you to become Janus-faced. Janus was the Roman god of beginnings, transitions and endings. He is often depicted as having two faces – one looking towards the future and another looking towards the past. I’ve found that I am often looking at my own parents and evaluating their impact on my upbringing, thinking about myself and my own ideas as an adult, and thinking about my daughter’s future and how every action that I take now is going to affect her. I hope for only good outcomes, but life can be very unpredictable.
Another thing that I have recognized is that my daughter, all of three years old, has her own ideas about things, and wants to explore the world on her terms. My job is to ensure that she is able to do so safely and to not morph into the “Mother of No” in my response to her fancies. Children must have space to be children, even if some of the things they do leave you scratching your head or cause your heart to leap to your throat. Much of the conflict between parents and their children is that the former often mistake the individuality of the latter for stubbornness or insolence. Recognizing the difference might mean creating an environment of growth and creativity that results in a confident well-rounded child.
Finally, parenting requires mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual balance. In trying to be the best parent by juggling all the balls, we sometimes drop the ball upon which everything else depends, ourselves. It is not easy to maintain this balance, but self-care should be a priority. Helping a child find her way through the world demands mental and physical energy and eating healthily, getting enough rest and staying hydrated should be every parent’s priority. It is easier said than done, but it makes a difference.
Having a child changes everything.