When I became a mom, I was warned that I would be unsure of myself and would question every parenting decision I made—at least until I got my bearings. What I wasn’t prepared for was the hit that my self-confidence and esteem would take. I’m not talking about not being able to fit into my pre-pregnancy skinny jeans or the fact that my belly button doesn’t quite look the same. I’m talking about how being a mom has forced me to put all of my own flaws and shortcomings under a microscope on a daily basis.
I thought that reaching my thirties and being a mom would give me a self-confidence and a surety that, until now, I never realized I was lacking. Instead, I am struggling with my inner self-image more now than ever before.
When my daughter throws a tantrum, or hits, or yells “You’re mean!,” I see my own impatience, my own short fuse, my own irrationality, my own jealousy, my own competitiveness, staring out of those big blue eyes. And I feel ashamed. I know that this type of behavior is normal for a toddler, but the last thing I want is for my daughter to pick up these traits and experience the same self-doubt and discomfiture that I feel. It breaks my heart to even think about it (seriously, tears are licking my cheeks even as I type).
As difficult as it was for me to acknowledge these failings, I think it’s this recognition that will ultimately make me a better mom. I can begin to recognize my behavior and make conscionable choices to correct it. While becoming a mom was the catalyst for my introspection, it is also my motivation to be a better person and a stronger role model for my daughter. As she grows up, I want her to see me as someone who is not impatient but efficient, not irrational but passionate, not competitive but driven. And I want her to be able to see these things in me because I can glimpse them in myself.
“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength.”