// 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. //
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.
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.
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.‘
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)