Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable. You will learn this from my words and actions—the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself.
I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.
We will practice courage in our family by showing up, letting ourselves be seen, and honoring vulnerability. We will share our stories of struggle and strength. There will always be room in our home for both.
We will teach you compassion by practicing compassion with ourselves first; then with each other. We will set and respect boundaries; we will honor hard work, hope, and perseverance. Rest and play will be family values, as well as family practices.
You will learn accountability and respect by watching me make mistakes and make amends, and by watching how I ask for what I need and talk about how I feel.
I want you to know joy, so together we will practice gratitude.
I want you to feel joy, so together we will learn how to be vulnerable.
When uncertainty and scarcity visit, you will be able to draw from the spirit that is a part of our everyday life.
Together we will cry and face fear and grief. I will want to take away your pain, but instead I will sit with you and teach you how to feel it.
We will laugh and sing and dance and create. We will always have permission to be ourselves with each other. No matter what, you will always belong here.
As you begin your Wholehearted journey, the greatest gift that I can give to you is to live and love with my whole heart and to dare greatly.
I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you. Truly, deeply, seeing you.
I love this manifesto. I love its message, the pledges and commitments it makes to our kids. I have it up on the wall, and occasionally get my big kids to read bits of it to me, in the hope that they’ll somehow absorb its message. But I love most of all that it emphasises parental self care, treating ourselves well, and recognises that this is at the heart of being able to parent at your best.
This was the thing that most bothered me when I first became a mother; that this message was nowhere to be found. If there were messages about looking after yourself (sleep when the baby sleeps) it was only to enable you to better look after your offspring. Not because you mattered. But because your baby mattered, and it was your job to keep them alive. Which is all true. But, something was missing for me, and that was ME. I had mattered for the last 26 years, I had worked hard, been encouraged, recognised, been celebrated by those who loved me. I had been a person in my own right.
And then I became a mother – 10 days before my 27th birthday, and that birthday, spent tending to the never ending needs of my 10 day old baby was one of the most sober, and sobering, of my life, and brought the immense change that had taken place sharply into focus. It sucked. It was meant to be all about me, and it just wasn’t. It was all about this new person, who I was delighted to meet after all that time growing him, but in no way was he welcome to gatecrash MY celebration.
And in the next 4 years, as I produced two more babies, the messages felt the same. My decision to work part time during this period was my way of retaining a little bit of myself, it was a little bit defiant, even; my way of resisting these messages to martyr myself at the altar of my babies. There were 3 of them by then. If I did that, surely there’d be nothing left of me at all!
And now, 7 and a half years on, having struggled, processed, and sometimes raged against these issues, and reached some kind of resolution of my own, I stumbled upon this manifesto, with its message that self care is a valid and important parenting strategy, that by going further than simply sleeping when our babies sleep, we can teach our children, by not martyring ourselves in pursuit of an impossible perfection but by being who we are, imperfect and uncertain as that may be, we can parent wholeheartedly, give our kids a sense of worthiness to take with them into the world. I love it. To me it makes the best kind of sense.