On Learning to Let Go: Motherhood

 

// Today’s post is brought to you in partnership with OGX Beauty to help them celebrate the 1st annual #BadAssHairDay, a holiday created to banish the idea of bad hair days, and to help all women feel more confident, to embrace what makes them feel truly Bad Ass.  One of the things that makes me feel Bad Ass (all caps, really) is being a mom, a really good one.  To me being a good mom, a Bad Ass mom, is learning to listen to, and trust myself.  I’d love to know what makes you feel Bad Ass, in any + every area of your life.  As always, thank you for your kindness to and support of Petit Elefant sponsors. //

 

family

Motherhood has been the theme of my life.  The purpose of my being.  A few weeks ago I shared a piece I wrote about Motherhood and its central role for me, and before and since I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it, this grand title of mother and what it all means.

The love of children, of infants and babies, of other souls and their quirks and singular humanness is maybe the only part of mothering which has come easily to me.  But the flip side of this, of course, is that children are people, people are individuals, and individuals are unpredictable, messy, and chaotic.

I’ve learned more about life, about parenting and mothering and myself, in the last two years than in my entire life combined, and what I’ve learned is this: parenting is perfect when it’s messy, and in order for that to happen you have to let go.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I enjoy being in control.

 

momma

 

But parenting isn’t about control, no matter what the books tell you.

I thought it was, in the very beginning.  I read the pregnancy books before I got pregnant, and re-read them when I did.  I read everything: pregnancy magazines, the new internet sites (it was the 1990’s), the pregnancy medical research, and barraged all the mothers I knew young and old, for every scrap of information I could get.

When my daughter was born I continued to read the books.  This time they were parenting books: newborn books, infant books, baby books, toddler books, naughty toddler books, potty training books, you-name-it-I-will-solve-your-parenting-dilemma-books.  If I had a parenting quandary I couldn’t solve, an issue not addressed in any of the aforementioned “expert” books, I automatically assumed I or my child was clearly the anomaly and must be doing something terrifically wrong, dooming us all to a lifetime of failure.  What I didn’t understand then, what it took another decade and a half of life experience to understand is this:

 

your child is your expert. 

 

Period.  And each different child is an expert for their specific needs.  You won’t find a better guide to understanding your child than YOUR CHILD.  Listen to your kid.  Let them tell you what makes them feel sad and angry, what makes them absolutely filled to the brim with bubbles and happiness, and allow it.  Don’t discount it, don’t push it away or minimize it or listen to anyone else in your life who tells you otherwise.  Listen to your child and hear what they’re telling you, and you’ll be just fine.

 

loving family

 

I don’t read the parenting books anymore.  I threw them all out.  I read books by people with decades more life experience than me, about life, not parenting.  Books by people who say things like, ‘I don’t know any more than you do, you’ll figure it all out,’ or, ‘Trust yourself, you have the answers inside you.

 

family Halloween

Right now I’m a little bit obsessed with the writer Anna Quindlen, who will readily tell you she doesn’t have all the answers.  I’m much more likely to trust someone like Quindlen, who at the age of 60 with more than 30 years of a successful career, three fully raised children, and an old marriage says she still hasn’t figured it all out:

Even today I’m not sure what worked and what didn’t, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I’d done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity.

That’s what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.”

Anna Quindlen, Pulizer Prize-winning journalist / bestselling author / mother of 3

 

So let it all go.  Listen to yourself, listen to your kid.  Everything’s going to be just fine.  You’re doing a really fabulous job, I promise.  And that’s pretty Bad Ass.

(professional family portrait by Blue Lily Photography)

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Allison

Hello there! I’m Allison Czarnecki, founder + editor of Petit Elefant, a blog all about style on a budget for every part of your life: style / home / travel / family. I do a lot of how-to beauty + style tutorials, travel posts, easy recipes, home remodel projects, and cool DIY crafts you totally want to try. I’m super happily married (to a hot Polish immigrant) and am the mother of two kids, a daughter and son, all of whom are featured here on the regular. We live in the country but we’re a little bit rock + roll. Welcome!

11 Comments

  1. Kelleyn :

    Great photo! Love seeing your whole family on the blog! Hope you had a great Memorial day weekend.

    • Allison :

      Kelleyn, Thank you! It’s been awhile since we’ve all made an appearance together, hasn’t it? We had a great weekend, thank you, I hope you did as well! (thanks for the comment, btw). :)

  2. Josi :

    Hmmmm, what makes me feel like a Bad Ass Mom? Probably the fact that I can laugh with my kids–deep, hard-to-breathe, belly laughs. We played Phase 10 over the weekend and the bantering and sarcasm was over the top. My ‘default’ is not having fun, it’s getting work done, and the fact that I could look around that table and realize how changed I was because of them was a spectacular moment that made me feel proud and capable. (I’m re-reading this and realizing it might not make much sense to anyone else, but it does to me so I’m going with it) AND I tried a new lipstick today, I like it better. :-)

    • Allison :

      Josi,

      I LOVE that! And Phase 10. And the fact that you not only had fun but recognize it and celebrate that you’re allowing yourself to change. That’s a big, fat deal. And YAY for new lipstick! I want to see!

  3. Heather Robison :

    Ever find ot what was going on w/ your darling daughter? A cute girl in my ward is having the same issues. It is a mystery to her and hers too!!

    • Allison :

      Heather, thank you for asking! We did and didn’t. We don’t have a complete picture of why she was/is sick, so we just take it one day at a time. Thank you so much for asking. I’m so sorry there’s a young girl you know dealing with the same stuff, it’s so stressful! Just being there for her parents and being supportive I’m sure is a huge help. :)

  4. Jennie :

    It’s such a hard lesson to learn, but so worth it, when you realize that a lot of parenting is about letting it ride. Every time I read parenting advice about how to fix a problem, it makes me laugh. None of it is designed for my children. Heck, I don’t even have a strategy that consistently works for the whole bunch. Each child is different and unique. Sometimes it makes me long for less children, just so I would have fewer personalities to juggle :)

    • Allison :

      It is! It totally is about just, well, rolling. And I think the thing about parenting advice that’s funny is that it’s all theoretical. And a lot of it is written by “experts” who have a theoretical knowledge of kids. But even if there were some all-knowing, magical expert, you’re so right: every child is SO different! So different. There’s no way there’s one-size-fits-all advice for anyone, there just isn’t. I love your perspective.

  5. Kami Larsen :

    I love this. I am a control freak too! Letting go is so hard. But I appreciate the people, like Anna, who you mentioned above, who are humble. I kind of hate it when people are like “Oh I did this-this-and-this and that’s why my kids are so good.” I want to say “What about all the people who did that-that-and-that and yet, this happened…” So yes. I just love that humility of being honest and vulnerable and realizing that we just have to do our best and that our best is good enough! I’m a bad ass mom because I keep showing up every day even when I want to hide and never come back :)

    • Allison :

      Kami, I think humility and honesty are two of the most undervalued traits of all. That’s where we really connect and have meaningful relationships with people. And I am totally with you: you’re completely bad ass, ESPECIALLY for showing up. I totally want to hide all the time too, and we’re strong, because we don’t.