Moms also need love, care and attention.
“Every time a woman is in her power, she upgrades everyone and everything around her.” Dr. Christiane Northrup
I see mothers as the centre of the family’s experience of well-being, love, compassion and joy. If mom is doing well, all family members benefit; if mom is not doing well, it affects the whole family.
And yet, it is common for many of us to find ourselves completely empty in our reserves before we realize that we have not taken time for ourselves in days, weeks, or months. Our emotions give us the telltale signs that we need a change in direction; our frustration, anxiety, fatigue, or resentment spills over into our families and calls to us to awaken to our own needs.
I remember being in this place about four months after the birth of my second child. As joyful as I was to be a mom again, learning to juggle a life with two young children, sleepless nights, and a partner who worked shifts, had taken its toll on me. Walking home from the park on a gorgeous summer day, I was restless and ornery, completely oblivious to the beauty of the day and of my children.
It hit me that the reason I was feeling resentful of my partner’s time away from home, and my friend’s freedom to go out in the evening, was that I was not giving myself permission to take care of myself in these ways. Thankfully, I have learned to ask myself at these times, “What is it that I am missing? What do I most need right now?”
And whatever the answer to those questions: time with friends, a hot bath, exercise, or going to bed early, moms must learn to listen to and then honour their own needs. We must be willing to put ourselves “on the list” of all the other things we do and attend to in our lives.
This message sometimes goes against beliefs that we have picked up from our families, cultures, or society at large. Many women have learned that to be a “good mother” is to put the needs of others, especially their children, ahead of their own. And that to do otherwise is to be selfish.
But there is a big difference between being “selfish” and being “self-nurturing”. A self-nurturing woman includes herself among those in the family who need love, care, and attention. Self-nurturing means she can let the dinner dishes wait in the sink as she enjoys a cup of tea. It allows for an evening out, to take a class, or to visit with a friend, and invites in others to support her in taking this time.
Most importantly, it recognizes that the woman who values herself in this way, who finds her own sources of joy, peace and fulfillment, ultimately offers these gifts to others.
Here are some suggestions for getting started:
◈ Acknowledge that you are worth “being on the list”. Realize that you can only give to others what you are first willing to give to yourself.
◈ Gift yourself a set amount of time each day for things that are pleasurable to you. At first, this may only be 15 minutes for a bath, a walk, or quiet time to read.
◈ Find out what brings you joy. Create a list of 10 things that are uniquely nurturing to you (think body, mind and spirit). Ensure that there are a number of things on the list that are low cost and take little time. Make a commitment to give yourself these gifts regularly.
◈ Enlist support. It is beneficial to surround yourself with people who encourage and champion you as you begin to take those first courageous steps to nurture yourself. Seek out role models who are already doing this successfully.
◈ Be conscious of any big energy drains in your life and seek professional help if you are not able to repair them yourself.