I have always been so proud of the routine that we have in our home. I have always persevered to achieve the perfect bedtime routine. In bed by seven, in own bed, through the night!!!!! Dinner times have run like clockwork, again persevering with fussy eating phases so those tummies are full. I’ve always declared myself as firm but fair and I have needed the naughty step for those terrible two’s and threenager explosions. As much as I know that I am not a perfect mother, I try my best! I try my best to raise good people, so that they understand that life comes with its boundaries and rules and so that they can grow up happy and safe in their decision making.
I was twenty two years old when I had Noah and I was up against it. The judgement from people around me, from people expecting me to struggle and from the fear that I held inside, wondering if they would be right. So I tried very hard to be good at this, motherhood I mean. I tried really hard to get it right! I wanted to be a perfect mama to my little loves, have a wonderful relationship with them and for there to be so much love between us, it hurts!
I think I did get it right, thankfully! Noah, Ellenah and I are so close and we love each other very much, unconditionally. But I am certainly NOT perfect, no parent can be. Much like no person is.
Now that I am older, I have come to realise that striving for perfection is not at all important and within reason, neither is bedtime routines and meal times. Obviously, we want our children to get a good nights sleep. That is when they grow and heal! Obviously, we want our children to eat. That is how they will grow and develop with the right diet! Obviously we want our children to grow up understanding that there are boundaries and rules. This is how they will fit in to society, right?
Well, I have come to realise that I don’t simply want them to ‘fit in’ for the worlds approval. I want them to stand out for their own! I don’t want them to remember me when they are older and say ‘Mama always had us in bed by seven, dinner was always on time, Mama persevered a lot and now I really like peas!’… I don’t want them to say ‘Mama always had a plan, mama had all of the answers, mama was never wrong!’
I want them to grow up allowing little snippets of ‘perfect’ fall where they may. I want them to notice them, appreciate them but never expect them. I want them to ask questions, trust their instincts, know themselves well enough to know their own boundaries, I want them to express themselves in the way that they see fit and to understand that they are on their own journey… nobody else’s. I want them to strive for the highest expectations that they have set for themselves. I want them to figure out exactly what ‘success’ means to them, not everybody sees it the same way and I want them to know that, that is absolutely fine. I want them to stand up for what they believe in and of course I want them to know what matters to them but most importantly, why it does. I want them to be inspired, free and understanding and accepting to everything that the world would label ‘different’.
If they can do this is they grow, I trust that they will be good people.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a mad person. I will still advise a bedtime and encourage one more mouthful at dinner time because I am their mama and that comes from a place of nurture and love. But it’s so easy to forget that even though we are parents, we do not own our children. They are people in their own right and have to find their own way. They have every right to do this when they are small. It isn’t as simple as flipping a switch when they are eighteen years old and saying, ‘you’re grown now, what are you going to do with it?’… How scary does that sound? Almost as scary as hearing, ‘You know all of your life, we have been teaching you how to fit in, blend in…well actually, to get the career you want or the life you desire, you now need to learn to stand out, be unique, be a bit different! Good luck kid!’.
It is our job to raise them…YES! We should guide them, teach them about consequences sure…otherwise the world would be chaos… but we should believe in them more! Believe in who they are, what they are capable of. Believe in the innocence in their hearts (something we should all endeavour to learn from them really!) and believe that they have got the tools to just be who they are, and those people are going to be the natural and best versions of themselves. We don’t have the right to raise and define them around the people we want them to be, do we? Because we love them unconditionally!
And… I have to say, if we cared too much about bedtimes and routines all of the time. A few weeks ago when we stayed out pretty late, chasing the beauty of a sunset. Noah and Ellenah would never have seen how beautiful the sky could be that night. They would never have been searching for shells as the last of the sun beamed over their fresh little faces, looking around in awe of such an unforgettable night. They went to sleep really content that evening, I watched them for a while. I saw their little faces twitch every now and again when they were dreaming. The corner of Ellenah’s mouth kept twitching upwards in to dreamy smiles and before Noah rolled over to sleep, he said ‘I love the beach at night with you mama!’
And that is how I would want them to remember me!