I know a mother who tries to get through each day to the best of her ability. Scrap that, all the mothers I know whether they are friends or mothers I work with get through the day the best way they can.
Some days are ok, some are not ok and some are total shockers. The days where you feel that you cannot possibly carry on, I know those too. “I hate my life” are words that sadly I hear daily. Listening makes up a huge part of my day. Working with children means I am interacting and connecting with their mothers. Mothers who love their children with every ounce of their body, yet struggle to love who they are and every single moment is too much.
When we are having a good day ( remembering your good day can be a total opposite of someone else’s) we to tend forget that another may be having a not so good day and we automatically make an assumption, to some extent we can blame judging to the way we are wired, we all do it. Barely stopping to take a breath to imagine the bigger picture that consists of thousands of events going right back into childhood to present day, a picture that effects every single one of us, every day. The voice in our heads is there forever.
Behaviour a complex array of habits, patterns, personal values and thoughts that make us uniquely who we are, that automatically makes us perceive another’s behaviour seem irrational to our way of thinking. Why did they do that? They could have done it this way. In moments where someone has to keep going, what you see as a wrong, is that person’s only rational way to keep their sanity, to keep them moving into another tomorrow. Not extreme behaviour but opting to do the school run in PJ’s because they can, using paper plates for dinner or putting a movie on for the kids instead of struggling with another homework war. A sanity saver is a personal choice. It is non comparable. Life has so many curve balls and each individual has so much mental baggage that what might be a non negotiable no to you, is their lifesaver. It will get them through to see another day. “Do what you feel will get you through today” is my mantra for every mother I see.
Eight out of ten mothers I work with has a type of depression, anxiety or a disorder diagnosed by a professional. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders pages 31 to 816 covers them all. We all have at least three episodes in our lifetime that fit the criteria of a mental disorder. We do not bother to see the doctor, ironically too busy for our own care and undiagnosed we soldier on to the best of our ability. Even baby steps are impossible on bad days, we do what we have to, in order to collapse at bedtime, then we lie there with a head full of guilt and shame because your child did not eat a piece of fruit today, the plates are in the sink and the last time you thought about having sex was 1992 and yeah it all restarts the next day.
Opinions are valid. Values are what you believe and are relevant to you. Opinions and values are individual ideals. Your essential value for example may be your faith, which on my value scale has not one iota of importance to me. My friendships are not formed on whether you take your children to Macca’s, whether you attend church every Sunday or you eat sandwiches for dinner. I like you, I don’t necessarily agree with your beliefs and everything you do but I accept them. Your values do not interfere with my life or my family. Not knowing your full upbringing and not being able to see everything that goes on inside your head, I see a friend and I see another mother.
Social media has added another dimension to our real world. The real world where we used to be solely concerned about our own personal values and focus on living the reality is now online and we scrutinise every little thing another person says. They do not do what we believe is 100% correct and we let them know immediately. Who gives a toss? They took their child to school in an unclean uniform. Bad mother. Take her children away. Who cares she has depression, anxiety and guilt. Shame on her. Mothers do not need shame. We carry enough shame and guilt on our own. We already feel guilty daily.
I love the word passionate. It is great to be passionate about your beliefs and values but there is an invisible line, in that if your belief or value causes hurt, pain, shame, and sadness to another, it cannot be that wonderful. I dislike the word hypocrisy. Where you believe your belief is better than anyone else’s and you do not take a second before pointing that out. Does someone’s address make them less of a person or mother?
They use packet mix to make cakes and took them to school on a plastic tray covered with glad wrap and with this act in your eyes they have failed, they have made a huge mistake and you will pounce on them because you passionately believe that you are right. It counteracts your passion of baking homemade cakes and being environmentally friendly. Perhaps this mother has no choice. It is her way, her life, her normality , her getting through each day to her what she feels she can do. A value is meant to be good and personal and an opinion does not rely on fact or the bigger picture. It tells you nothing about the other person, their state of mind or their life.
I teach children compassion and empathy in the real world and online factoring in that not everyone will agree with them and that online people a quick to assume and they will let them know that instantly. Their words may hurt you as no one has time to think about the bigger picture.
Realistically I know nothing is going to change, the old saying “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything” or “Think before you speak” has long gone. So I am arming the future generation with a super armour called resilience and we practice ‘Kind Eyes’ in every class I teach. Adult behaviour is ingrained and hard to change. Children are more accepting, perhaps look at their world and take a moment to reflect on the bigger picture. Keep passionate about what you value but keep in mind that values are unique.
It is impossible to please everyone and constantly think will my words cause upset when your burning passionate value is so strong you have to speak up, hear my voice, what she is doing is wrong. Is it effecting your life? Your children? Do you know if she carries a depression so dark that she can hardly breathe? Was her child named the school bully and she cannot fathom why? So many ifs to consider, you only need to imagine one before you speak or type.
I know a mother who tries her best. I may not agree with everything she does or says but her sanity is critical not my belief. My values may fall by the wayside one day because in order to keep taking that baby step to get me through, I will feed my kids Macca’s on a paper plate, without them showering for a day or two and spend the day watching movies in their PJ’s because no one knows what is going on in my head.