We’ve heard it many times, from experts, and well meaning friends alike: In order to be truly happy in life, we must “listen to our inner child.” As adults, we should follow the whims and the yearnings of the children we once were. The theory, it would seem, is that if we satisfy the cravings of our inner child, we essentially feed our soul what it really needs, thus ensuring contentment and satisfaction via validation coupled with no regrets.
Well, I’m calling foul.
Honestly? Listening to our inner child is great, don’t get me wrong. When we chase our childhood dreams to potential, we really do exude a certain joy that others, who toss them aside, do not. The ambitions of the child within our hearts should always be part of a balanced life equation, but listening to our inner child, and acting on immature impulses, demands, and feelings is selfish and undisciplined. Doing whatever the child wants is often detrimental to our growth as human beings.
Newsflash: In order to be really happy in life, we must listen to our inner mother most of the time.
I know for sure that my inner mother is a wise old bag who fills my head with sage advice. She’s my moral compass and my cautionary captain. She understands the relationship between action and consequence. She knows what’s up because she’s been around the block and back again. She gets me, because she’s learned the hard way more times than I can count.
When my inner child forgets to wear sunscreen, for example, and I’m a red hot burning mess, my inner mother rips into me. “When will you ever learn?!” she plead-yells. Inner mothers are really good at plead-yelling, and I must admit, she definitely has a point.
When I want to consume sweets and salty things with wild, reckless abandon, my inner mother gives me a look that simply says, “little girl, you’ll get sick, and you’ll gain weight, and you’ll beat yourself up over it, and who wants that?” She’s right. She’s always right.
When my inner child throws a mini, silent tantrum because the line is too damn long, and I’m in some sort of absurd rush, my inner mother settles me right down and whispers, “patience, dear, just practice patience, there are so many others who would love to be waiting in this line.” Sometimes she has a soothing yoga voice, that inner mother of mine.
It’s my inner mother who teaches me how to work for what I want. She reminds me that success will not be handed to me on a silver platter. She stands tall and strong with me in front of my boss and pushes me to be assertive to get what I’ve earned. And it’s my inner mother who beams with pride when I earn what I get.
It’s my inner mother who nudges me to do the right thing, or the thing I’m too scared or insecure about to do. She always says, “child, you’ll regret it, trust me.”
Truth be told, my inner child is a mean, little bully sometimes. That bratty kid can be unkind and unfair to me, and sometimes she takes it out on others. But guess what? My inner mother is not having it. She scolds and defends me like it’s her job.
When my inner child is bored, my inner mother reminds me that I will never get this day back. Never, ever. “Every day is fleeting, gone in the blink of an eye, and how dare you be so ungrateful for this God-given day!” She throws God at me, and it always works.
When I feel alone, my inner mother is sure to point out that I am never alone. I have her. I always have her.
And when my inner child is hurting and just wants a bit a love or attention, my inner mother steps right in, puts me in the shower, slathers me with lotion, drags me to my bed, tells me to rest, and asks nothing more from me than to wake up the next morning refreshed. “Tomorrow is a new day, my love” she says, in that knowing, loving way she has.
My inner mother knows my inner child well. She knows I hate long car rides, and I want every puppy I see. She knows I just want to stop on the side of the road and eat ice cream on a hot day sometimes. And the beautiful thing about my inner mother is that sometimes she wants all of these things too. So, she simply smiles benevolently, and nods her head “yes.” Well, yes to everything but the puppy.
If happiness is linked to our actions, it’s not always best for us to simply listen to our inner child. Our inner mother is the one who carries the truth about who we really are like a torch in the darkness. She is usually the voice of reason, and reason should never be casually dismissed. The whimsy of the little kid inside may keep us spontaneous and inspired, but it’s the wisdom of our inner mother that keeps us stable and grounded.
I will say, though, that sometimes my inner mother can be a real know-it-all.
Like when she raises her eyebrows and asks, “are you actually going to wear that?” This is when my inner child stomps her foot defiantly and declares, “I sure am! You’re not the boss of me!”
To which my inner mother just chuckles and shakes her head. Because, of course she is.