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Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
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Estimated reading time: 4 minutes


Myself through His Eyes Features
Lisa Hassan Scott, Wales, UK
Photo: Megan Soto

Why is it easier to complete the sentence, “I’m a terrible mother because…” than to say why we are brilliant mothers?

I know you’d like to play with that pen. It doesn’t seem like he wants to share it. Here’s another pen for you to play with.

It is a joy to witness two mothers sensitively helping their toddlers to share. Holding their hands, speaking in kind yet firm ways, offering alternatives and listening to feelings: to watch a mother dealing with her child with loving guidance is so inspiring. I had one such opportunity this weekend at a La Leche League workshop, which I had helped to organize.

Two toddlers, tired out from a long day, struggled over a pen. One cried out, another leaned in to snatch the pen. Two equally tired mothers stopped a physical conflict, held their children lovingly and paraphrased each child’s feelings with clear and simple language. One mother looked up at me: “You’re doing really well,” I said. The mother smiled ruefully at me in exasperation as she sighed, “She’s going to finish me off!”

But of course this child didn’t finish her mother off. If anything, she brought out the best in her mother. And I watched in admiration as this little sparkler’s mother went to her, time and again, and helped her through this busy and fraught episode in her life.

myself-through-his-eyes

Blaire Elizabeth Ring of Second Ave Photography

Later, when I sat down to read the evaluation forms from the workshop, this event I had put so much of myself into, I reflected on how easy it is to focus on the little negative things rather than the big picture. Feedback was overwhelmingly good, but in my tiredness I could easily have allowed myself to dwell on the things that had gone wrong.

Perhaps we have the same propensity to pessimism at times in our mothering.

We think we’re struggling with toddler issues, when actually everyone around us admires our good mothering. In our tiredness or busyness, it’s easy to see our struggles as the norm, to call ourselves ‘bad mothers’ when we’re having a bad day or week.

Perhaps we have the same propensity to pessimism at times in our mothering.

We remember the times when we’ve shouted or been impatient, forgetting to pat ourselves on the back or take joy in the times when we have listened and comforted our children. How easy it is to dwell on our faults and overlook our talents.

So many mothers want to get it right. We have an ideal in our minds of how we’d like to be and yet so much of the time we feel as though we are fumbling through parenting.

“What am I good at?”

“What are my gifts?”

These are questions we rarely (if ever) ask ourselves. In our desire to be humble (or perhaps because we are just quietly getting on with it) we are self-deprecating to our own detriment.

Why is it easier to complete the sentence, “I’m a terrible mother because…” than to say why we are brilliant mothers?

In our family at the moment, we are going through the three-year-old “why” stage:

“Please could you put your wellies on?”

“Why?”

“So we can go down to the post office.”

“Why?”

“To send some letters.”

“Why?” …  and so it goes on.

At times, my son’s desire to know the reason for everything can be frustrating and exhausting. I get to the end of the day and think that I can’t explain why one more time.

I know what that mother means when she jokes that her toddler is going to ‘finish her off!’ I have said, “just …  just … just because” more times than I care to admit.

I don’t have all the answers and it makes me feel uneasy. I get cross because I don’t want to have to explain or justify every request or decision.

myself-through-his-eyes-lll-leeds

Christina Simantiri

But when I see the world through his eyes, I see that he thinks I know the answer for everything. At this point in his life, I am the keeper of all knowledge: I am the oracle. It is both humbling and terrifying: I am the lens through which he sees the world, the interpreter that holds his hand in this foreign land.

The more I think about it, the clearer it becomes: right now, I am enough for him. Or to be more accurate: I am everything to him. So although I would love to be more: more patient, more kind, more loving, more present to my children, I am brought up short by the reflection of myself in his eyes.

I see that he doesn’t ask me to change. It is I who wants change. Outside criticism is one thing, but I am my own greatest critic.

“So what am I good at?”

“I am good at being this child’s mother.”

“Imperfect?”

“Yes.”

“Impatient at times?”

“Yes.”

“Tired?”

“Yes.”

But I am all my child wants. I am the best mother for him.

“Why?”

“Well, just because.”

Lisa Hassan Scott is an LLL Leader living in South Wales, UK, with husband Keith and their three children. She wrote this in 2013. Lisa writes a parenting blog.


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