Parenting From My Pain


Parenting From My PainY’all, I am one messed up mama.

It struck me recently as we began talking to our tween daughter about growing up. “The talk” if you will. I knew the time was coming. I worried and whined to my friends. I sought advice from trusted moms of older children. But I still couldn’t shake the anxiety. I couldn’t get over the discomfort I felt. And the more I talked to other moms, the more I began to wonder if something was wrong…not with the topic, not with the world, but with me. 

I found myself making all sorts of excuses for why we hadn’t had “the talk” yet. But most of them ended with my own hang-ups.

“My parents never talked to me, so I don’t know how.”

“I knew about it far too early, so I can’t even imagine what a healthy eleven-year-old is thinking.”

“Most of my childhood trauma made this a painful topic, which hinders me from being open about it.”

Facing my discomfort meant facing my own past, and in a weird, probably delayed revelation, I realized that I was in fact parenting (or not parenting) from my own pain. And I had been doing it for a long, long time.

Before I had kids, I’d been trying for years to slowly sift through which of my behaviors were healthy and which were just survival. I had a pretty good start. Better than most, I think. But when I became co-creator of two people’s actual lives, I was rapidly forced to make some big choices: I could continue running from the truth and parenting from my own pain, or I could lean into the lessons, do the hard work of healing, and grow. Grow into the healthy woman, wife, and mom that I’ve always longed to be.

I guess what struck me recently is that I didn’t know I’d have to make that choice every. single. day. for the rest of my life.

But then again, maybe I’m not the only one. Maybe I’m not the only mom who hides when she should stand strong. Who falls silent when she should speak up or yells when she should listen. Maybe I’m not the only mom who shies away from hard topics instead of bravely arming my children with the truth. Or fakes control instead of admitting her own struggles. Maybe I’m not the only mom who puts up walls when she should be letting her family in. 

Not so they can think I am a mess, but so that they can know that I am still growing. Always growing. Forever growing! And so that maybe…maybe one day when they are face to face with the challenges and choices of parenting, they will have the courage to lean into their own growth and become the parent that I always wish I could have been.


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