Opportunities In Opposites.

I have been thinking a lot about the fourth point in my Mummy Kindness Manifesto:

“I will accept that others will do things differently to me. This doesn’t mean that they’re wrong, I’m wrong, or that they think I’m wrong.”

I think that we are missing huge learning opportunities by negating the opinions of others who don’t see things the same way that we do.

I’ll give you an example…. Unlike you, another mother may only give her children organic foods. That’s her choice. If deep down the reason this bothers you is that you feel that you should be doing the same, ask her advice, get some recipes. Or just accept the fact that her choice is right for her children and your choice is right for yours. It’s not a competition. We all have the same goal; to be the best we can be for our children.

Your best and her best will be different and you can still both be right. She may be the opposite of you in may ways, but there are lessons that we can all learn from each other if we stop assuming that we’re being judged for our choices or differences in opinions.

In his book Buddhist Boot Camp, Timber Hawkeye imparts the following incredible pearl of wisdom:

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“The opposite of what you know is also true”.

By this, he means that we all experience life differently. There are infinite theories on what is right and wrong. But however sure we are of our version of the truth, someone else can believe the exact opposite to us and still be right according to their set of beliefs and circumstances.

Few opinions are as strong as those regarding the choices we make as parents. But our job is to align our choices with our beliefs and values and respect other parents for doing the same. Even if their values an opinions differ to ours. As parents we come to our own conclusions and we must allow other parents to do the same without assuming they’re critical of us.

Nothing is ever certain in life, and especially not when it comes to parenting small children.There are no absolutes. What works for you and your family may change from one week to the next and being too judgemental about others may force us to eat our words. In fact, I remember being a perfect parent once. Then I had children! Now I sometimes find myself bribing my children with chocolate buttons before pre-school if they will JUST GET IN THE CAR!!

I have just finished reading an incredible book called Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. In her chapter on Wholehearted Parenting she says :

“Who we are and how we engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how our children will do than what we know about parenting”.

This speaks so me on so many levels. I am a really strong believer in being the type of person that we want our children to be, and leading by example. But this is so much easier said than done. If we are busy judging other parents and being hard on ourselves, what are we really teaching our children? That anyone different to us is wrong? That the only right way is the way our family does things?

Brene Brown sums this up perfectly:
“If we want children to love and accept who they are our job is to love and accept who we are”.

Criticising other mothers perpetuates a feeling of “us and them” when in reality we should be pulling together. If we want our children to be inclusive of children with other values, beliefs and needs we need to lead by example. We can start by having enough faith in our own choices not to feel threatened or judged by someone whose version of right is the opposite to ours…remember, “the opposite of what we know is also true”.

Our children will encounter so many different types of people in their lives. One of my greatest fears is that a child of mine would ever bully, exclude or discriminate against a child that was different to them for any reason. I would feel that I had failed as a parent.

I believe that this kind of behaviour is learned and that it comes from a place of fear or ignorance. An inability to accept someone who is different to us. If your child encountered someone with autism (read more about J here) or had a very sensitive child in their class (read more about W here) would they welcome their differences and get to know them?

How can we teach them this?

By embracing the Different. By accepting that the opposite of what we know is also true. By realising that those with differences to us (even if we’re only starting with differences in opinions on what to feed our children) are also often as right as we are. By leading by example. By having faith in ourselves.

By respecting, welcoming and learning from the differences in others and by modelling who we’d like our children to be.

ps. Please help spread the mummy love by liking the Mummy Kindness facebook page here

Be Gone, Black Dog.

I am sharing this post in the spirit of my Kindness Manifesto. In doing so I am reminding myself and others that it’s OK not to be OK sometimes. When I wrote the manifesto I emphasised that we need to be true and authentic and not pretend that all is perfect at all times.

Things have been far from perfect for me during the past week, I’m afraid. But I’m slowly feeling better again. I wrote this on Sunday and I think I’m ready to share it now. I am sharing this not for sympathy, but to stay true to what I’m trying to do with this blog. Sorry if it makes for uncomfortable reading. Please remember that anyone you come in to contact with today could well have written it. Let’s all be kind to each other. We’re all fighting our own battles and we can help each other.

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Black Dog Visiting

Looking back I could feel it coming.
Starting with a familiar sinking stomach feeling and slight panic for no apparent reason. Anxious.
Feeling like I want to be on my own. Like I need to escape. Like I just need some quiet. Like I just want to sleep for days until hopefully it passes.
Feeling like crying. But there’s nothing to cry about.
Feeling trapped in my head.
Such disappointment. So very disappointed with myself for finding myself here again.
I’d been doing so well.
Grateful for P keeping the kids busy so I can be by myself, but feeling incredibly guilty that he has to do this.
Feeling like I’m spoiling everyone’s weekend.
Thinking that surely he can’t wait to get to work to get away from me.
Bringing everyone down.
Trying to remind myself that this is an illness. That I can’t help it. That it’s chemical.
Makes no difference whatsoever.
Going to bed. P says the wrong thing.
Crying. So much crying. Can’t stop crying and can’t cry enough.
Can’t breathe.
Want to scream in to a pillow.
Can’t.
Considering going downstairs and literally screaming into a cushion.
Too exhausted to move.
Feeling like a total fraud.
Writing about kindness to ourselves and recovery from depression?
Sharing tips on how to be grateful and overcome negativity?
Bullshit. Hypocrisy.
I don’t want to be here again. I can’t be this person again. This burden.
Can’t stop crying. Trying to calm my breathing. Closing my eyes but the tears keep coming. Trying to sleep but the tears keep streaming.
So very disappointed.
Can’t turn these thoughts off. Where’s the off switch?
Will this ever go away?
Trying to remember: It’s always darkest before dawn.
It’s the cracks that let the light in.
Tomorrow is another day.
This too shall pass.
Sleep.

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*Black Dogs have been used as a symbol for depression since Celtic times. Winston Churchill famously used the metaphor to articulate his own struggles with mental illness. Black Dog image from Living With A Black Dog by Matthew and Ainsley Johnstone

If you need help and support, please click here for a list of support organisations. Please don’t suffer in silence.

The Mummy Kindness Manifesto

Some tips for practicing Mummy Kindness to ourselves and each other. Can you imagine a world where everyone observed this manifesto?!

The Mummy Kindness Manifesto

1) I will trust my own instincts.

2) I will feed my baby however suits me, my baby and my family. I will never judge another mother for how she chooses to feed her baby.

3) I will always tell pregnant women they look amazing. No other comments on her appearance or size are necessary.

4) I will accept that others will do things differently to me. This doesn’t mean that they’re wrong, I’m wrong, or that they think I’m wrong.

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5) I will only offer advice when it’s asked for. I will do so with love and without judgement.

6) I will remember I’m entitled to be proud of my child. But no-one likes a show-off.

7) I will not be defined by the number on a scale. It is not my worth.

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8) I accept I will make mistakes. I will learn from them and move on.

9) I will be true and authentic and not pretend all is perfect at all times. This helps no one.

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10) I will not compare my insides with everyone else’s outsides.

11) I will remember that my kind words, compliments or smile could make someone’s day.

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12) I will accept compliments gracefully and I will believe them.

13) I will always remember that I am the best mum for MY children, that I know them better than anyone else. I will discount any thoughts or comments that suggest otherwise.

14) I will remember it’s OK not to be OK sometimes.

15) I will be kind to others and kind to myself and in doing so remember that it’s not a competition, all mummies are on the same team.

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I’d love to know your thoughts on this! Please use the box below to leave a comment and add any extra points. You can also use the links to share this page with your friends.

All pictures credited to the incredible Brave Girls Club.