I am a rockstar.
I am a horse.
I am a chef.
I am first choice.
I am a nurse.
I am a seamstress.
I am a driver.
I am selfless.
I am a songwriter.
I am a comforter.
I am a celebrity.
I am a discerner.
I am a linguist.
I am a maid.
I am a scientist.
I am shade.
I am rich.
I am more.
I am humbled.
You are mine, I am yours.
When I pull in the driveway after a long day of helping people love their souls, the sight and sound of my son jumping up and down and screaming at the top of his lungs, “Mama! Mama! Mama’s home!”, wipes every sadness or heaviness away.
Motherhood is humbling.
To be so loved, cherished, wanted and adored, wondering how you got so lucky.
I was fortunate enough to have two mothers. Two mothers who loved me in their very unique ways. One left. One picked up the pieces in the best way she knew. Each doing the best they could at that time.
My “new mom” was 30 years old. Her husband had left her. She had 3 children and nothing else. When she married my dad, she took two more children under her wing; my brother and me. She now had a 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 year old. She worked 40+ hours a week, only to come home to 5 more full-time jobs.
When she would come home from work, a fury of tension and anxiety would fill my body, I never knew what to expect. As a child, I thought she hated me. Being the sensitive soul I am, I felt everything deeply and thought her anger was a result of something I’d done wrong.
I was 26 when I had the courage to ask her, “Did you hate me when I was little?” With the chaotic noise of bustling servers and people eating lunch at Applebee’s, I’ll never forget the sight and sound of her crying. I’d never seen her cry. She hung her head and shook it “no”, then looked up at me and with a broken voice, replied, “Of course not.” With a look of such regret, she wiped her tears and simply said, “I was so tired. All the time. And I know now I took it out on you kids.”
If I’d understood at 26 what I know now, I would have reached my hand across the table, touching her arm with deep empathy and added, “And when did you ever get the time to heal?”
She wasn’t just tired. She was hurting, too.
Recently, I took a week off work. Originally we were supposed to go visit family, but due to some unexpected scheduling conflicts, we couldn’t go. I thought long and hard about going ahead and scheduling clients and working.
But I didn't.
Then I thought about spending a week with Joel. He's three.
But I didn't. At least not the whole week.
The overwhelming sense of feeling guilty wanted to wrap itself around my body and mind like a Anaconda. Its voice, soothing and familiar, "Why wouldn't you want to spend a week with your son?" "What kind of mother are you?" "You’re so selfish!" "What will people think if you don't spend your vacation with your child?”
Guilt. So familiar, almost comforting, pushing aggressively on your soul to do the thing that is expected, societally deemed as ‘righteous’, the proper thing to do.
But I didn't.
No, instead, I took three days and cleaned out my closets and kitchen cabinets, caught up on Downton Abbey and laundry, went to the beach, took a nap, read a book, got a pedicure, did the dishes, listened to podcasts, made dinner, slept in (just kidding, he still woke up at 6 each morning), all without a child.
A friend asked me, "Don't you feel guilty? I mean, if I had time off, I'd feel like I should spend it with my child." I paused for a moment, thinking how reasonable she sounded. Then realized her words “I’d feel like I should” and I asked her, "If you wouldn't feel guilty, would you spend some time alone hitting the reset button on your soul?" She paused. "I guess I would. But how can you not feel guilty?"
Have we really created a society that believes in order to be a good parent you must sacrifice all of yourself? What are we teaching our children? That when they grow up and have kids, they also will be required to stop living so their children can live?
No. Not in my house.
Had my mom understood that taking time for herself would have helped her be a better mother, I have no doubt she would have had regularly scheduled self-care. She was doing the best she knew how to juggle it all and did a damn good job, but she was exhausted. All the time. And her lack of self-love oozed out in her parenting and we suffered the consequences.
I’d rather feel guilty for spending a few extra hours away from my child than feel guilty for making my child feel like I don’t love them because I’m overly tired.
By the end of my week, I didn't feel guilty anymore. In fact, I felt proud, relieved, refreshed, empowered, all the ingredients to make myself a better mother (and wife ~ you’re welcome, Dan!) I actually did my family a favor by loving my soul in a way that is outside of the box.
C.S. Lewis hits the nail on the head:
“You don’t have a soul. You have a body. You ARE a soul.”
Because we ARE a soul, we MUST take the time to pay attention to it. Hear it, see it, love it, have empathy for it, educate it, pamper it, and sit with it. I have a daily practice of asking my soul what it needs. Sometimes I’m all filled up and sometimes I need a triple latte with a side of silence and extra deep breathing.
When we take the time to put love into our souls, nothing but love will come out. Self-care can seem so selfish ~ I HEAR YOU! It’s awkward and a little scary to put yourself first. Yet, I challenge you to do just ONE thing this week that refreshes you and see if don’t feel a little more selfless afterward!
My desire for you is for you to know that you have the capacity of being the mother you feel deep in your soul. She’s just waiting for you to pay her some attention.
Sending Nothin' but Love xo A
Anna is a soul~therapist whose "no-nonsense" writing captures and expands on the deeper moments of life. Everyone will benefit from posts on parenting to relationships to living your better life. Follow along and you'll gain insights into your own soul, quick-tips (Quips) about every life subject and along the way, you may just find yourself having a few laughs.
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