Monday, May 12, 2014

Assumptions (Part II)

So, as I was saying, the show of love and support and understanding when I attended the Big Hearted Business conference with my baby was nothing short of breathtaking.

But there was also something in that that seemed a little familiar. And made me feel a little sad.

A number of women gravitated to me because they were mothers themselves. They'd left their littlies at home and were missing them terribly. Most also felt a degree of guilt.

This was an experience we were able to share and there was a gorgeousness in it. We knew that attending this event was something that we had to do. And that, in attending, we were modelling courageous behaviour for our kids, whom we also knew would be absolutely fine without us.

The exquisite pain of missing our babes heightened the importance of making the most of the weekend and it was a privilege to bond over this shared experience.

But I also noticed that, for some, there was a certain pain in seeing me there. I could never have done what you're doing! I'm too neurotic. When my kids were younger I just didn't come to things like this.

I felt the regret. And the shame. And I saw how much of it came from an unfavourable comparison... which, in turn, was based on an assumption.

Good on you! You're so brave! You look so relaxed! Your baby is perfect, I haven't heard a peep out of him!

There was an element of truth in all of these things.

But there was also the truth that, in bringing my baby, I felt vulnerable and exposed. As a perfectionist people-pleaser, I was on the verge of tears for a lot of the first morning. Even though I'd told myself that whatever I could manage to see or do would be enough. My How on earth am I going to do this perfectly? button was well and truly pushed.

There's also the fact that this is my second baby. I am a little more relaxed and confident the second time around and, perhaps as a result, he is a more relaxed baby. Or maybe that's just who he is.

But while there's a lot of stuff I can be more sanguine about -- because I know, from experience, it will pass -- there's a lot that I will perennially be anxious about as a mother. Because that's just who I am.

I'm not writing this to detract from my experience or invite a pity party. I'm also not keen to trumpet the possibility to any doubting mother in the vein of You can do it too! Just bring your kid! It will all be OK! Because I know that this sort of invitation can feel just as shaming if it doesn't feel true or if the opportunity has passed.

What I do want to say to all those mamas who felt some kind of less than for seeing me there is that I saw you. And I felt you. And I'm sorry that I became one extra thing to give yourself a hard time about. And I want to remind you that whatever you did (or didn't do), it was the right thing for you and your little one(s) at the time.

And please know that you were no less brave in turning up to the Big Hearted Business conference this year and wearing your big heart on your beautiful sleeve.

I'm the first one to look at other people's pretty-looking lives (particularly on Instagram) and assume that it's easy for them and feel less than as a result.

But the truth is, we're all just fumbling along, faking it and doing our best to make it.

And surely that's more than enough.

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