I was 17 when I became a mum, 36yrs ago today. It was a tough gig on my own without a doubt and I had little clue what I was doing. I just did what I’d become good at, surviving one day at a time doing my best. It still feels surreal in some ways for me. I still have that feeling sometimes of being amazed with how I did it. It was a responsibility I embraced with privilege albeit with an empty guide book & 17yrs of trauma to back me….I did my best….not great, not terrible, not perfect but always…My Best with what I knew. I only had what I knew, to give her, until I could learn more in life, to give her more of what I knew.

That’s how life works, particularly for parenting and I now realise partnering also. Often is the case we even do these things together, however thankfully I did not take them on together. There is no right or wrong way of doing it, there was no real plan for me and at the same time there was a plan for me. I was 17, I didn’t plan to become a mum on my own and at the same time, I made a choice that became a responsibility far bigger than anything I’d planned. We don’t get taught how, we learn on the job or in the role as we go. We expect and assume we do know how, while holding ourselves to these expectations we rarely can live up to. We compare ourselves to our own parents, who let’s face it, have already had way more experience with practicing the roles, but we decide we’re going to do it our own way and do it better than they did. When we don’t meet these expectations to a high standard, we criticise ourselves and ability to fulfil the role adequately, we search for all the little things we can list, to prove what a terrible parent or partner we are. We hunt out labels that explain in socially acceptable ways why we are a failure which further limit us from growing into who we truly are meant to be.

The things that life itself has taught me so far, that education did not and could not, in the 13yrs of institutional learning, will always remind me we never stop learning and life will never stop providing the opportunities to practice what we’ve learned. Life itself has taught me ‘how’ to learn in life, how to love and accept I am doing my best right now in this moment, how to love and accept the woman I am and the body I have. Life, parenting, partnering, there is no magic pill or golden guide book for getting it right and in the end all we can do is trust in ourselves that we have and are always doing our best with what we know at that time. With that knowledge we can have another go at doing our best again tomorrow. Life, parenting and partnering is a practice not a perfection or a degree. It’s an apprenticeship that we never really graduate from, with the only end date being when we take our last breath (this time around anyway!)

If we can gift anything to ourselves, it’s the grace to trust and know we’re doing our best today, and that’s enough to be proud and love who we are, with acceptance and peace.