I got it from my daughter

It’s been just over two years that I’ve had you with me, yet it’s hard to remember how my heart felt before I became your mum. It’s weird to walk around in the same body I’ve always had, to look almost exactly the same on the outside when I feel so completely and utterly removed from who I used to be.

The love I have for you flows from somewhere no-one else can reach, over-spilling into my eyes, my smile, my laugh, the songs I sing, the decision I make, the places I go, the dreams I dream. It floods and moves me, motivates and fuels me. An unmistakable, unshakeable, unmatchable, unquestionable love that’s too big for me, so over-sized and overwhelming I have to stop sometimes and take a breath just to keep myself steady.

I am rational, yet I could tear someone limb from limb if they hurt you. I am unconfrontational, yet I will push myself forward to make sure you get your fair share. I am scared, yet I will walk the hardest path to carve out a better life for you. I am tired, yet every day I strive to be the best mum I can possibly be.

Such an outpouring of love might seem over the top, and most parents will need a nap just reading what I’ve written, but this is honestly how I’ve felt since the day you were born, and even more so since it has just been the two of us. Lots of heartache and therapy later, it has become clear that the love that I don’t give to myself, I give to you.

The truth is that for most of my life I’ve been bullied, treated as an after-thought, punished for every mistake I’ve made, called names and been told that nothing I ever do is good enough….and the person responsible for doing this to me, is me. I’ve spent such a long time being hard on myself that there was nothing to stop anyone else from treating me the same way, and I’ve ended up in relationships which have been wrong for me because of it. They say you get what you tolerate, and it never even occurred to me that things could be different. But then you came along, and I wanted them to be different for you.

The way you deserve to be loved was so clear to me, it opened my eyes to the standards I had for myself. Everything I give to you, kindness, compassion, patience, understanding, forgiveness and unconditional love, were missing in the way I treated myself and the expectations I had of those around me. If I forgot to pack a bib for you I would easily have accepted someone calling me an idiot, as in my head I’d have called myself much worse. I’d never even thought about how wrong this is until I considered how I would feel if you were to follow in my footsteps. It’s hard to admit that you don’t want your daughter to end up like you, but it made me realise that I needed to set a better example. I’ve made some difficult decisions and have had to go through a massive inner transformation which is still on-going, but doing so has brought nothing but enlightenment and positivity (yeah man), and I’m so grateful for that.

When I had you I knew my job would be to protect you, guide you and help you to grow, but I had no idea that I’d be right there with you, learning and growing by your side. Now every time someone tries to put me down, I imagine that it’s you and anger sweeps through me like a tidal wave, reminding me that it’s not okay. I can protect myself now because I know how to protect you. I can stand up for myself now because I will always stand up for you. And I can love myself now, because I have felt the depth of my love for you.

I still need to work on doing this for myself without having to think of you to get the right perspective, but I’m proud of how much I have grown so far. I’m now able to push back on things, ask for what I want and tell people how I feel without thinking that I shouldn’t because I don’t deserve to. And because of this, I’m living a life that is more peaceful, more satisfying and more fun. I’m going to keep trying to better myself because I know that you are watching me, and one day I hope you’ll instinctively know how truly precious and valuable you are and how well you deserve to be treated, cos you learned it from yo mama.

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