Discontentment & MotherhoodApr 13, 2023
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I recently got back from traveling across the country to visit New York City with my two teenage sons. There was one moment in particular on this most recent trip that sums up the experience of discontentment and motherhood and how I’ve been able to start moving toward more contentment.
I hope that this story and the tools I share today will help you move toward more satisfaction with your own experience of parenthood, as well.
Discontentment & Motherhood
Before we jump into the story, there’s something about my past self that you need to understand.
I have this old belief hanging around that things are never good enough. I always thought that things should be better. That I should do more to make our moments better. I have a general dissatisfaction with things and it shows up in parenting, as well as in the rest of my life.
This constant feeling of being a little bit dissatisfied with so many things in my life is one of the big reasons I got into life coaching for myself.
This is an ongoing struggle for me, and one of my 2023 goals is to cultivate more contentment.
Shifting Out of Discontentment
My sons and I recently flew across the country from L.A. to New York, checked into our hotel and went to get some dinner.
While I was sitting there, I noticed that I felt unhappy, disconnected from my kids and disappointed.
So I got curious and started to coach myself through what I was feeling and thinking.
I noticed some negative thoughts coming up about my kids, so I made a shift.
I looked at them and thought to myself, “These are my kids. These are the people I raised.”
And I felt satisfied and content.
They’re not perfect. They’re humans. They’re just regular people, but they’re MY people. I’m their mom.
I have big dreams, big plans and big desires for my life. And they've happened.
But there’s still this tug of, “but it's not good enough”. It’s the thought that I don't have the right to feel settled. If I do, I’ll never achieve anything.
But in that moment at the ramen restaurant with my boys, those weren’t the first thoughts that came through. It was, “These are the people you raised. You did it.”
My parenting journey is in a transitional period with one kid going to college and another learning to drive and going into his senior year.
These teen years are tricky.
On one hand, you need to let them go. To give them more freedom and responsibility. You’re handing them their life so they can go out into the world and be whoever they're supposed to be.
And on the other hand, you're scared that if you let go, they'll get hurt, they'll get in trouble, they'll fuck up.
You're also afraid that if you let go, they'll leave and not come back, and you won't have a relationship.
My goal has always been for them to have the emotional tools and skills to manage their own feelings and thoughts, to move through negative emotion, to be resilient in the midst of hard things and to take personal responsibility.
When I look at my kids I see those goals and values I’ve held around being a mom, and I see that they’re on their way.
I feel that I've moved from being the leader of their lives. They're making most of their decisions. I am now the guide while they become the leader.
Watching us go through this transition has been hard, painful and difficult. But I can look at our relationships and see that I did it. We stayed close. We stayed connected. I have a really genuine relationship with each of the kids, and I am so grateful for that.
I’m thankful that I am not looking at my life now, or my children with regret or dissatisfaction.
And I’m glad that I’ve done the personal work I’ve done so that I could enjoy it.
There was a moment at that table when it felt like my old habit could easily have slipped in. I could have been dissatisfied. I could have criticized or lectured them. But instead, I just slipped into contentment. And the rest of the trip, I was so delighted.
This trip was the end of an era of traveling with my children, because now I'm going to be traveling with my adult children.
So if you have little kids and you’re listening to this, here’s what I want you to know: Enjoy the ride.
It happens in the small moments. If there’s any part of you that can pause and just say, “yeah, these are the people I’m raising. I’m doing it.” Be in the moment as much as you can, even if it’s hard.
The feeling I’m chasing right now is contentment, satisfaction, gratitude.
What do you want to think and feel about what’s happening right now? How do you want to remember this time? What feeling are you chasing?
- The tricky thought that keeps sneaking up on me
- A simple thought shift to find more contentment in parenting
- How to see the moments of today in a way that you’ll want to remember them in the future
Connect With Darlynn:
- Learn more about the Emotionally Healthy Teen course
- Book a call with Darlynn
- Sign up for love notes and learn about The Calm Mama Club at www.calmmamacoaching.com
- Follow me on Instagram @darlynnchildress for daily tips
- Rate and review the podcast on Amazon
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