In 2018 I’m going to aim to be more like my toddler. By this, I don’t mean my new year’s resolution will see me stamping my feet or refusing to eat anything green, no, as appealing as this might sound, I’m actually going to strive for contentment.
I’ve found it utterly fascinating, and a huge privilege to boot, watching, and helping, a small person grow. Being on the front line whilst speech develops, bodies change and their unique personalities begin to take over. This change isn’t always easy, some days battling with a rather determined, and willful, two-year-old can leave me needing to lie down in a darkened room with a cool cloth on my brow, however, whilst it can be difficult, it’s also leaving me in awe. I look at my child and see a happy and confident little boy, a child who is truly, completely and wholly, simply content within himself; body and soul.
And, as his mother, I couldn’t possibly want more for him in life.
Yet I know that this will change. I know that his self-ease is likely to waiver, his confidence will, most probably, take a few hits and, in reality, no matter how hard I try, I’ll never be able to give him back the complete contentedness he’s currently commanding, which is all I wish for him.
When I look back at my own childhood, I remember days of happiness, unabashed fun and a confidence that knew no bounds, however, I also see the teenage years, and beyond, which were blighted by a lack of self-esteem; of not feeling pretty enough, or clever enough or merely good enough, and I wonder; just when I did lose that childhood innocence and feel the competitiveness, which in reality, I placed on my own head, and often still do?
I’d been pre-warned that infertility, and IVF, can strip away at self esteem, that an infertile’s confidence can take a huge hit; and in all honesty, it did. However, after I, finally, conceived and my child was born, I never expected a shadow of these emotions to remain. Yet there they were, in a different form, but still ever present; the, often imaginary, judgement I felt, from other mums, the doubting, the questioning: Am I doing it right? Is someone else doing it better? Could I be doing better? Should I be doing better? I’d gone from self doubt over trying to get pregnant, to having a child and having to do it perfectly. I put so much pressure on myself that, looking back, I’m not sure how I managed to raise my child under the weight of it.
But I did, and I enjoyed it, and it got easier. I stopped putting so much self-inflicted stress on myself and simply allowed myself to be, what I think deep down I always knew I could be; my son’s mother.
Becoming a parent enabled me to really, properly look at myself, under a microscope; to learn so much more about me and who I am in this, oh so, differing situation to anything I’ve ever experienced before. To recognise my faults but learn to accept, and even embrace, them. To understand I’m human, that I make mistakes, I have bad days but, you know what? That’s absolutely fine. I was also able to start identifying the great things about me too and I began to enjoy my company, take comfort in my, sometimes, words of wisdom, and to heal from the infertility; I learned I could actually talk to myself, rather than merely listen. I started to feel proud of the person, wife, daughter, sister, friend and mother, I am.
There’s something so refreshing and beautiful (and incredibly tiring too) about witnessing true emotions. How my son will cry if he’s sad, shout if he’s cross or laugh delightedly and unashamedly with glee, when he’s happy. Every emotion is raw and there is no embarrassment in their display. He doesn’t care what others think, he’s living bang in the moment, experiencing life to the absolute full and doesn’t hesitate to simply be.
I’m aware that, as we become adults, we do have responsibilities and, to some extent, do have to abide by the rules of society; as much as I place high value on the honesty of my two-year-old, I’m not entirely sure I’d appreciate a complete stranger prodding my tummy and telling me it’s squishy. However, squishiness aside, I’m learning from him and, in the process, trying to embrace my true self just that little bit more. To see the joy and excitement surrounding me, daily, and not be jaded by tiredness or routine. To strive to have the confidence to simply be me and be proud of that person; to be content within myself and hopefully set a good example to my son, to set him up well for his life.
To let him teach me to be more like a toddler; ignorant of bitterness or jealousy, judgement or criticism, but to live a life where each day is a wonder, every emotion is valid and where I don’t waste hours agonising over what others might possibly be thinking of me.
And I suppose, if it all does go incredibly wrong, then I can just stamp my feet, refuse my greens and still be keeping my resolution for 2018!