My blog About A Being has always been about the intricacies of being human. It’s about the good and the bad. It’s about the trials and the triumphs of life. Today I was reminded of my humanity and of the importance of allowing myself to be weak. Weakness is a part of being human, a huge part. If it is ignored or hidden or brushed over or despised, we deny our humanity, making it harder to be human, harder to thrive, harder to cope. Acknowledging, embracing, being open about and developing mechanisms to deal with and address our weakness is a crucial part of being balanced, whole and well.
Yuval Noah Harari spoke on Ted Talks about Why Fascism is So Tempting. It was a thrilling talk. The most intriguing part about it was where he said that it is not helpful to just bash fascism, rebuke it and hate it. It is more important to understand it, to understand why it has gained such traction in history and why fascism thrives among people who ‘should know better’. Yuval proposes that fascism thrives because it plays on our need to reach perfection, to be beautiful, to be amazing. It makes us feel like we can connect to something that is perfectly important and perfectly meaningful. Yet we are not perfect, we are immensely flawed. Fascism would not survive if the people that buy into it looked more at their own flaws. Hatred would not thrive if people were more honest about their own weaknesses. Racism would not thrive if people considered more their own failings. This is why Yuval thinks that being intensely aware of your weaknesses and the triggers that can make you respond in negative ways as a result of those weaknesses, is really, really important. It’s the only way we can learn to love ourselves and others, and consciously live lives of love rather than of fear.
A group of people who tend to be really bad at embracing, addressing and acknowledging their weaknesses is mothers. As a mother I feel like the entirety of my child’s life, sanity, success, happiness and faith, rests on my shoulders. Everyday I concern myself with ways I could help my child thrive and prevent the calamities of life that fall upon so many people. It started from the womb where I tried to eat amazing food so he would be really smart and healthy, downing chunky spinach shakes against my will and consuming loads of fish oil. Then when he was born I was obsessed with the attachment-theory that says that you have to be really careful about the bond you form with your child from the get go, to the point where I didn’t accept help in the first month and crashed mentally at the end of it. By three weeks I was already out and about and ever since then putting him in contact with loads of other kids to help him develop his social skills, which I believe are so crucial to success. These days, even while pregnant, I take him out twice a day to different groups that allow him to develop in all areas of his life. I was anal about his food, keeping him away from dairy and sugar to the point where he was a bit skinny. I am, like many other parents, going down the rabbit hole of perfection-seeking, which is ultimately fear-led.
The truth is, my son’s life and success do not lie on my shoulders but instead in the secure and eternally capable hands of God. This is one of the most freeing things to know because I have my moments; scary, intimidating moments where I feel angry at my son and act out, where I don’t feel like loving him, where I am tired and just don’t have enough to give, not enough to carry his future life on my shoulders. Sometimes I am too tired to cook and feed him his vegetables and give him a pouch instead or some cheese and milk. Sometimes I have done so much for him that week that a second more in his presence, especially when he is cranky, is painstaking for me and I need to hand him over to my husband or count down the seconds to his bedtime. Sometimes I need to put my own needs first because I recognise that my weakness is being triggered by tiredness, over-extension, hormones or stress. Sometimes I just need to let go of my own ideas, of trying to control the future and allow God to work through me in uncanny and unpopular ways.
For instance, I sleep-trained my child. After the first three months of always responding to his crying within seconds I was shattered and moody and my days were unproductive and spent grasping for any bit of sleep I could get. I decided to sleep train my son at 3.5 months. I realised this week after posting something about tips on sleep training that there are a lot of people out there who think it is horrible, disgusting, selfish and harmful for the child. Mentioning sleep training or putting a child to sleep while awake or putting a child in their own room before six months angers a lot of people. In their mind, I am a horrible mother. I went against my own instincts to love and protect my child. I pushed my child to sleep longer when ‘naturally’ he was supposed to want to be with me numerous times during the night. They think I psychologically damaged my child by letting him cry for an extended period of time to help teach him to sleep. In their mind I’m a horrible parent and I have already failed my job of carrying my son’s future on my shoulders.
But did I really fail though? I believe the answer to that is a resounding NO. I did not fail. Sleep training was one of the greatest triumphs my husband and I have had in parenting. Not because it successfully helped our child to sleep but because it was one moment when I acknowledged my weakness. I acknowledged that my mental state became extremely fragile when I didn’t sleep enough. I acknowledged that I was less capable of giving love to my son and husband when I was shattered. I acknowledge that my triggers come when I am tired, especially when I am tired. I acknowledged that I couldn’t do my best when I wasn’t sleeping well. I acknowledged it, I accepted it and I addressed it. We decided that our family was better off if we were all sleeping better. What’s more, I let go of control over my attachment with my son. I let go of my obsession over protecting his security by always being there for him all the time, by listening to every ‘natural’ mum or parenting professional who said you shouldn’t abandon your child. I do not know what the implications of sleep training are for the future but I know that for now the decision to be honest about and address my weakness has resulted in a more balanced family life, a thriving child and marriage and better mental health.
That being said, I have learned that everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are different. So are the ways we address our weaknesses. That’s why sleep training is not right for every mother. For the same reason being a stay at home mum is not right for every mother. For the same reason that some kids thrive in nurseries while others have nannies. For the same reason why some women choose formula for their babies. For the same reason some parents homeschool and some send theirs to private school. We all just have to respect that we are doing what is right for our family, for our children, based on what we know is in the range of possibilities for us, based on what we can deal with at that time, based on what we can manage in regards to the landscape of our weaknesses and strengths.
In conclusion, I want to highlight a popular Bible verse on weakness as I think it captures my point in a way only God can in His infinite wisdom and intelligence:
‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.’ 2 Corinthians 12:9
We NEED to be weak. We NEED to admit our weaknesses. We should even BOAST about our weaknesses. Because it is only then that we are able to truly let God be as big and mighty and wonderful as He can be in our lives. It is only at that point we are able to let go and let the real beauty happen.
It’s OK to be perfectly weak in our humanity because God is perfectly strong in His divinity. It is well with your soul. It will ALWAYS be well, no matter your weakness, as long as you acknowledge it, address it, share it and give it to God.
Go forth, be wonderfully weak and let God be magnificently strong.