How Motherhood Has Helped Me Forgive

It’s hard for me to forgive.

I know that grudges aren’t healthy and they certainly don’t help my relationships, but I’m a sensitive person, and I find it difficult to let go of hurt feelings.

Magically, over the past few years of parenting, I’ve found that forgiveness comes more easily; without as much thought or effort. Not because I have unlocked some secret superpower, but simply because I don’t have time to worry about everything that I used to in my pre-kid life. Holding grudges takes energy, and who among us has any extra energy to spare? For all of us, it’s easier to assume the best in someone and move forward.

Namely, I’ve learned to more quickly forgive the following people:

My Parents

I remember holding my hours-old baby when it hit me: As much as I love this tiny person, that’s how much my parents love me.

I’m very lucky that I had a happy childhood, but my parents occasionally did and said things that weren’t perfect. Yes, they experienced that immediate, all-consuming parental love. But, the exhaustion, the anticipation of bedtime, impatience and frustration manifesting themselves in harsh words (and the ensuing guilt over all of the above)? They experienced all that, too.

I get it now. We parents are trying so hard, but we are only human. It only makes sense that we inevitably mess up sometimes.

My Husband

My husband is supportive, helpful and generally in tune with my needs and also our son’s needs. But in the chaos of everyday life, we sometimes miss cues or overlook what the other is feeling. This chapter of life is difficult, but learning to communicate and forgive has made our relationship stronger.

How Motherhood Has Helped Me Forgive

My Child

Thrown food, tantrums that have no logical basis, defiant looks, “I don’t want to play with you, Mama” (cue the shattered heart) . . . every developmental milestone brings new challenges in forgiveness. I remind myself that these are appropriate behaviors and that my two-year-old feels most comfortable testing boundaries with someone who’s safe. He’s learning so much, and the world is so big, it can be overwhelming. 

Myself

If I struggle with forgiving others, I absolutely struggle the worst with forgiving myself. How many nights have I lain in bed, regretting a harsh word or wishing I had done more: spent more time playing on the floor, cooked healthier meals, done creative Pinterest-type crafts, watched less TV, etc.?

I thought becoming a parent would spur self-improvement, that I would find some better version of myself waiting for me in the life-changing moment I became a mother. Instead, I notice how I fall short. Motherhood seems to exaggerate my imperfections, to creep into the spaces I’d rather keep hidden and shine a spotlight on my flaws.

It has become easier to forgive my own mistakes by recognizing their similarity to the mistakes that I forgive in others: for being short-tempered, for needing a break, for falling short in a multitude of ways of the impossible standard of being the perfect parent, partner, and child.

I forgive them and myself, for being human.

How Motherhood Has Helped Me Forgive

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