Is there such a thing as a perfect person? No, I believe there isn't. The same goes for being a perfect parent.
When it comes to parenting, there is no finished product. As conscious parents we are always learning, therefore mistakes are an inevitable part of this. It is the healing of our own pasts that lead us to be more available to our children. To connect with them, to be real! Not being someone who is always at their 'beck and call' someone who is pretending to have no needs of their own.
This was a cycle I was stuck in for a number of years. In an obilvious 'martyr-like' role. Having no time for myself and being completely immersed in the care of my child. It is hard to believe how strong the imprinting is on our unconscious minds, the patterns of our parents that we recreate. For me it was trying to do everything, but not nurturing my own emotional needs. Being stuck in that ego-driven world of believing you don't need support and that you can do it on your own.
There comes a time in your own evolution as an imperfect human that you make a choice, do I learn from this or do I continue to put these patterns on my children for them to recreate? I chose to gain wisdom from this experience, to break the cycle and to realise that I will make mistakes and that everytime I do it is a chance for me to reflect and gain insight.
Having worked through the feelings of emotional abandonment I felt as a child, I now feel empowered to embrace the 'love myself first' philosophy that seems so obvious to me now, on the other side of my healing.
We as parents can be naturally nurturing, giving our children, what we believe is the most optimal care we can give ie co-sleeping, full-term breastfeeding, baby-wearing, natural learning etc. But first we need to love ourselves, and care for our own emotional needs. Otherwise our care will seem forced or detached, but certainly not the nurturing presence that our children deserve.
According to Robin Grille in the book Parenting for a Peaceful World, we as parents need to find that 'realness', that ability to express what you are feeling in such a way as to not offend others, but to really be authentic in your self-expression. Using 'I' statements to grab your child's attention, to show that you have feelings too. Your children need to see you as a real person, so they too can become aware that it is not just about how they are feeling, it's about understanding the feelings of others. Gaining the important virtue of empathy.
An example of this, was when my son Finn felt upset and angry about being teased, and then took his anger out on his little brother and myself, calling us names and telling us he hated us. My initial response to this was 'I understand you are upset about what happened'. 'I feel sad when I hear you call me horrible names'. To which he called me more names. I could have easily been silent, but I was feeling angry about the way he was speaking to me. So I sounded angry and upset when I stated 'It is ok for you to be angry right now, but it is NOT ok for you to call me hurtful names, I do NOT like it and I want you to stop!!! He sat silently after this and then after about 10 minutes we had a hug and looked each other in the eye and really connected. We then talked of ways he could express himself, so as not to take this unexpressed emotion out on us. Then it was let go, and we continued on with our day, no resentments, no emotional baggage, just simple self-expression in a non-hostile manner, and strategies for dealing with this in the future. George Herbert was quoted as saying 'Storms makes oaks take deeper root'. So I believe this 'storm' passed with Finn and I being even more connected than before.
A study conducted at the Bernard College Toddler Centre in New York concluded that parents who openly and appropriately expressed anger had children who were more emotionally secure. (Byron Child, Issue 18 2006). To be real is to experience a vast array of emotions, I am happy, excited, hopeful, optimistic, afraid, uncertain, sometimes sad, sometimes angry, I am a fallible human being. And that is okay. I will make mistakes, be uncertain, get angry, it is through the openess of my emotions that I am able to connect with my children.
So am I a perfect parent? No way! Nobody's perfect, but I believe that everyday if we take the time to reflect, we can be better, more understanding, more empathetic of ourselves, letting go of guilt and blame. We can evolve into more nurturing, nourishing parents, if only we ourselves are first nurtured and nourished by loving support from ourselves and others.