How I live is how they’ll learn

There are times I’m asked a question that literally stops me in my tracks. And this happened to me last week. Sitting at my fortnightly shrink appointment, my therapist asked me how, as a result of my experiences are now shaping the type of mother I am for my kids & what traits & values I’m stilling in them, also as a result of my life experiences. Answering this for me was simple & the qualities rolled off my tongue.

I responded: I would hope my kids are going to be humble, considerate & compassionate. I would hope that my kids are  going to think really hard before making a judgement or sizing someone up & I would hope that they are going to be kind hearted. Simple really.

Most of the qualities I wish upon my kids, I learned throughout my life, (mostly) the older I got, the more experiences I had & by the  friends I’ve had along the way. Funnily enough, it’s been my kids that have taught me the true meaning of some of these traits, specifically, humility & to refrain from judgment.

I think the most amount of learning I did was when I was admitted to the nuthouse (psych facility, parent-infant unit). I learnt that certain things in life doesn’t discriminate, most obviously at the time, mental illness. I learned it didn’t matter about my education, my background, my University degree, my relationship status, my income, my level of class in society, what car I drove, how big my diamond was – nothing mattered. I was no better than anyone else I sat with & spend my time with. In fact, I was no better than anyone in admitted to the facility then & forever. I needed help just like everyone else. It was the most humbling experience of my life (so far) & one that keep me grounded daily. I also hope my kids see mental illness as an unfortunate condition & not a character flaw, an excuse for odd/bad behaviour or social awkwardness or a result of being weak or impressionable.

It’s easy to learn not to be judgmental when you become a parent.Well it’s easy, but not necessarily upheld & practiced. You learn very quickly that what works for you & your child might not be acceptable & approved by someone else, but it becomes their issue & not yours. You learn that no child is the same (especially if you have more than one child), you learn they all develop at their own pace, you learn that they overcome challenges when they are ready, you learn that you will move mountains for your kids in order for them to be happy, healthy & safe & you learn that we all do it that way that we know how & what works for us. You learn that there will still be those that will judge you for choices you make for your kids, but that their opinions are just opinions. You learn to accept others for the choices they make, whether you agree with them or not. You may not know the other person’s background or journey or what led them to make certain decisions, but to try & just be supportive of them. I’m not naive, I know we are all judgmental, it’s human nature, but it’s those of us that have learnt to accept choices of others that tend to carry less anger, resentment & jealousy.

This wasn’t a revelation for me, however I was still surprised at how the words flowed at the time, how instant the words came & how passionate I was when answering. I don’t know if my answer would have been as passionate had I not spent time in the nuthouse, had I had an easy time becoming a mother, had I had a child without special needs or had I had a different upbringing. What I do know is that this has all shaped the person, wife & mother I am & the person, wife & mother I want to be.

Welcome to our home

The first thing you’ll see as you enter our home is our house rules. Literally, as they’re stuck to the wall as you enter.

I loved it as soon as I saw it & following Seon’s agreement it was bought & delivered within a few days. We had been looking for something to go on our wall as you enter our home for years. I wasn’t sure about a painting & we never saw one we loved & had to have, so the wall remained blank & the search for something to go there halted. Until I saw this.

Each line means something to me. Each line is important. The rules are short but have so much meaning. It goes to show you that you don’t need a lot of words in order for the message to be understood. And also, that you don’t need a lot of words to get your message though or your point across!

The house rules are not written specifically to anyone, but to everyone – whether you live here or not. It is relevant to Seon, me, Orli & one day Flynn too (although he can do with the no ‘whining rule’ at times). If you don’t live here you can still follow the rules. When you’re a visitor in our home feel free to follow the rules, & if you want, take some of these rules with you.

As I continue my journey of self-discovery, embracing & sometimes – & let’s be honest – enduring motherhood, these little rules remind me what kind of person & mother I would like to be. It reminds me of the values I wish to instill into our children. It reminds me to uphold these rules so that our children see them in action. It reminds me to be a good example to our children. It reminds me to be a good wife. It reminds me to be a good person.

Each time I step into our home I am greeted by these messages & I love that I am constantly reminded of these values & messages.

The last line sums it up for me – in this house we strive for respect, love, sharing, caring, but hell knows it’s not always sustainable, manageable or possible. After all, we’re only human!