Already for 12 years I study in the Family University on the faculty of motherhood and parenting. And it took me a long while to realize that I will never be a perfect student.
I have always had the idyllic picture of family in my mind. "My husband and I are walking with our sons in the park. We are dressed in same color shades, simple, but stylish. Our children are neat and tidy. They are keeping their tiny hands in ours and are looking at us with love and devotion. They are well mannered and very polite. By the mere expression of their blissful faces, one can say they are happy and loved children ..."
Well, that dream was never to come true. When my elder son was 3 years old and my younger son was 3 months old, I was a single mother, suffering from a "failing to be perfect" syndrome. After divorce I found myself completely incapable of being a normal mother - one, who gives her children love, tenderness, care and attention, who never yells, is always calm and keeps things under control. I was the total opposite of that. What made things worse is that I blamed myself daily for being a lousy parent, for not achieving my high standards of upbringing. The pile of frustration, anxiety, guilt, and eventually depression grew bigger and thicker.
Even after I came out of depression with the help of psychological counseling, the habit of feeling guilty each time I failed remained deeply rooted in my soul. Trust me, I had been guilty as charged. The worst thing is that my insecurity and incapability influenced dramatically my elder son. By the age of 5 he was having regular night mares, was constantly in the state of anxiety, absolutely unsure of my love for him.
Time to wake up
I woke up only when Dalil got seriously sick. He did not react when I was talking to him, he did not turn when I was calling his name and he did not literally hear me! First I thought it was some kind of protest, but then I started panicking and took him to a doctor. The results of the test shocked me: my son was almost deaf. He had an acute form of serous otitis. The only way to cure him was a surgery, after which he would have to wear a plastic implant in his ear! Such serious intervention was excluded! I didn’t want to operate my 5 year old son. After a process of serious research and consultation, I decided to resort to homeopathy.
Our visit to the homeopath was a painful revelation for me! First thing she asked was: “Do you scream at your son?” With a tomato red face and a heavy heart I confessed: “Yes”. She continued: “How often?”. “Every day”, I said. The doctor had told me that his disease was of psychosomatic nature.
The disease appeared as a result of a defense mechanism. This way my son protected himself from stress and pain I caused him. The doctor mentioned it wasn’t enough to treat him with medical means, but I had to completely change my attitude to him and the way I communicated with him. I turned to my son, looked into his innocent, childish eyes, so open, so pure, full of unconditional love and forgiveness, and burst into tears. Relieving, purifying tears ….
Digging into the roots
I had to analyze why I came to such state, when my means of communicating with children was speaking with high voice or yelling. I realized it was the state of constant disappointment, dissatisfaction with myself, inability of living up to my high standards. Remember the idyllic picture I had in my mind? All my frustration and incapability of achieving the “ideal life” resulted in overreacting, groundless demands and expectations from my children.
Ok, I’m not perfect! I don’t manage everything I plan for the day! The house is always messy! I come tired after work and sometimes I don’t find forces to play with kids! My son is usually the last kid I take from the kindergarten and the nanny of the younger son looks at me with such pity, that I can’t bare it! I criticize my children much more often than I praise them! I’m not sure I give them equal attention! I could continue the list for ages!!!!
I realized I couldn’t go on like that, I couldn’t change if I kept blaming myself for being a bad mother, for letting my son get sick. Guilt paralyzed my will, it made me week, forced to look for excuses instead of facing the reality. Yes, I am imperfect mom and I forgive myself for that!
Time to act differently
I started analyzing the way I was treating my children
I tried to listen to myself each time I spoke to them
I started a mom’s diary
Each time I yelled at them I made a note in the diary
Each time I would react in a calm way I made a note in my diary as well
I have actually counted how many times a day I criticize or praise my children.
In moments I felt anger, I tried to understand what was the source of it.
Each time I felt like screaming, I would stop,take a deep breath and count till 10
P.S. After 3 months Dalil was absolutely healthy, tests showed that his hearing was completely restored. He gradually stopped having night mares, became much calmer and more secure. I did not become a perfect mother. And guess what, it did not bother me at all! Why should I waste the precious reservoirs of my heart on useless attempts to manage everything? Instead, I learnt to find joy in the small things the three of us shared together. …. And I’m still learning.
Written byIrina Musuc
My name is Irina Musuc. I am a Moldovan living in Netherlands, married to an Italian, bringing up two awesome boys. I have a journalist background and I love writing and sharing my life lessons. I learn every day as a parent. Parenthood is the most rewarding and challenging occupation. I have always struggled to be a good mother. And all I could achieve was coming to a simple conclusion - I am actually not educating my children, but rather my children and I are involved in a process of spiritual growth, where we learn from each other, we succeed, we make mistakes and we change ... together.