Learning Gracefully

On Mother’s day, I had so many pictures I wanted to share but I struggled with the words to go with them. I talked briefly about this on my Instagram account.

Motherhood challenges my ability to write and speak eloquently. It isn’t that I don’t have anything to say, it’s generally a result of trying to be more careful, more tender, more graceful. This is something I feel is not done that well by others, so I am overly cautious.

I try to be aware of the hurts that I know other women are facing. The reality is that friends, family, and acquaintances are facing miscarriages, infertility, and other traumas related to motherhood every day. So a day that is known for showing off the beautiful moments of mothering can be so hard for so many. I know this. I try to honor this and handle it carefully.

I also know, though, that these same women are advocates and champions of moms around them, despite their losses. They know that the beauty of motherhood should be honored and cherished – even though it hurts sometimes.

Being a mom is wonderful. It’s amazing and challenging and funny and engaging and full of spontaneity because each kid and each day is different.

Being a mom is also scary. There are choices to be made each and every day, choices that can greatly impact your child’s life and always seem to be opposed by someone somewhere who has a different opinion or idea about said choice.

One of my life mantras has always been to be a lifelong learner. It’s a goal of mine to maintain a perspective that is focused on growth and steering clear of stagnancy. I really believe there is always something to learn. Motherhood has proven this to be true, more than I ever could have imagined.

I can understand, however, why so many moms feel the need to shut off from other opinions and rely solely on their “mom gut” or their circle of like minded moms, because the opinions of others often come out so harshly and are so unforgiving in the way they are spoken. Sometimes opinions are even spouted by people who have no experience mothering, but just have latched onto a way of thinking. These can be hard to swallow.

My personal opinion is that this is a downfall in the sisterhood of mom-life. The fact that we feel we have to surround ourselves only with like minded moms for fear of being hurt or disrespected is saddening, and unhealthy. We need each other and each other’s experiences and stories. I believe that if done well and carefully, we can learn to hear and respond to each other better and more effectively.

The over-abundance of opinion writing out there is a bit disheartening when you are in the trenches of being “mom” and simply looking to learn and grow and be the best you can be. It can be so overwhelming.

On the flip side, I have had so many moments where a quick google search or an Instagram post from a different perspective than mine have been exactly what I needed to help me make the right call or figure out some issue I was having with a kid or myself.

It’s a balancing act, that is for sure.

My new goal is to learn gracefully – despite the tone something is said in or the learned tendency I have to assume the worst behind another person’s advice.

We are all, whether moms or not, trying to do our best day to day. It’s natural to assume that we won’t always say and do the right things. We have to learn how to learn gracefully, even when people are tactless in their information giving and sharing.

What I mean by this is learning to learn with a strong filtering capability. One that takes in information, but sifts it through various different filters: Is it beneficial to me right now? Could it be beneficial later? Does it offend or hurt me? Does it make me feel like I’m not good enough, therefore hurting my chances to make a good call? Etc… Once filtered in this way, we can learn from what is beneficial and disregard what is not.

Notice that during this filtering process there is no need to comment or inform others of your thinking. The filtering process is personal. What we do with the result of our filtering can be public, if we so choose.

Part of being a graceful learner is being less reactive, more proactive.

If I decide a post (or a person!) is not beneficial RIGHT NOW, I have the power at my fingertips to see less or see none of what they have to say. I have the choice not to bash or disrespect them, while maintaining my graceful learning.

If I decide a post (or a person!) is important to where I’m at, and potentially other people I know, I have the power at my fingertips to see more of what they have to say. I have the choice to share and to quote them, maintaining and pursuing my graceful learning.

This seems like such a basic practice, but I find it really challenging when it comes to motherhood. We are so emotionally invested in this job. We are so devoted to doing it the BEST because these are our little human beings we are shaping. Of course we have an emotional lens that isn’t always prepped to filter well.

So, this is your friendly reminder. Take control of your learning and your mothering choices. Learn on. Do it gracefully. Regardless of whether others are doing the same. 

You have control of YOU.

You don’t have control over the spilled cheerios, cold and flu season, or your child’s tantrums. You have control over you.

You don’t have control over what other mamas (or people period) have to say about issues. You have control of… you guessed it… you.

Keep an eye out for my upcoming book “Pushing Into Joy” where I delve into practical ways to keep your joy through this kind of filtering process and the various life things we face.