A little back story here….I’m one of those people who have big expectations for myself and those around me. It comes from a place of love and the pure knowingness that we are all capable of great things in life. Though some of us simply don’t choose that path for themselves. Going as far back as childhood, I’ve always been an encourager, the empathizer, the one who can feel and see people’s potential. I was born into a family who on my maternal side had hearts of gold, yet struggled so much with their own self-worth and value in life. Often, I would sit with my mother at our kitchen table with one of my aunts, listening to how awful things were for her in her relationship, or how sad she was and how terrible things were for her. I remember thinking back then – but you can change it – it doesn’t have to be that way!
Fast forward to later in life and becoming a mom. I always knew I wanted to have babies, and because I’m a giver and naturally want those around me to be happy and empowered in their lives, being a mom felt like it would be a natural fit for me…..but…..
My own self-care and ability to be a champion for myself has always been a sporadic element in my life. And, the expectations that I have had for myself as a mama, have not been balanced with an equal amount of compassion, acceptance, and love.
And this is what I didn’t know: is that having my children, would drive up so much for me around my self-worth and my own patterns of negative self-talk and self-doubt as a way of being. At times I would feel like I was having the life sucked out of me. I realized the hard way, how true it is that you cannot give from an empty cup. And I was empty. So so empty.
When my daughter, my oldest, turned five, something happened. I had this huge realization that for the first five years of my life as a mom, I had spent most of it in a state of anxiousness and doubt. Gripped by my fears of screwing it all up, and looking for evidence for what a horrible and terrible mom I was. I had fallen so far off the wagon from a self-care perspective (and honestly, I was just barely learning how to take care of myself from a more grounded place when I got pregnant with her) that I was in a deep, dark hole of sadness, depression, and apathy. I had lost my relationship to myself – and I knew – that if I continued this way – I would be a shell of a human being. I would miss out on so much more in my children’s lives than I already had. I wouldn’t be the kind of partner my husband wanted and needed. Nor would I be capable of making the kind of difference I know I’m meant to make in this life.
It was time for me to repair my relationship to myself.
And this is how my kids helped save my life. Had it not been for how much they mean to me, for the mirrors they are for the parts of me that so desperately wanted to be healed, I may never have taken the steps necessary to begin to heal my relationship to myself. And the future, honestly, would have been more of the same sadness, emptiness, and lack of self-love that was becoming my normal.
I went through many different levels of awareness and healing over this last year. I began seeing a chiropractor consistently and drew in a magnificent tribe of women in doing so. I would go to those appointments and sometimes just walk into their office, start crying and release so much of the sadness within. I also started seeing an acupuncturist consistently to help support my healing emotionally and some of what I was dealing with physically as a result of not taking good care of myself. I saw a therapist on and off. I felt better at times, and then worse again. I felt like I’d conquered something and then would slip back down into the depths again.
But I kept doing those things, and I also started to journal more. I started a gratitude practice sometimes just celebrating that I woke up that day. I started to make room for yoga again, not as often as I’d like, but more often than before. I started to see that for me to be the badass Mom that I know I am – present, intuitive, a force of empowerment, love and compassion – I had to be all those things for myself FIRST. And not “in order to” be a better mom. That was a pitfall for me – when I did it “for them” it never sunk in as deeply or greatly as when I realized that I needed to do it for ME first. But had I not had my beautiful babies, and seen the gap between the mom I knew I was capable of being (which b t dubs is my truest expression of ME) and where I was as a Mom when my daughter turned five – I don’t know that I ever would have gotten to where I am today.
I started to see that in order for me to be the badass Mom that I know I am – present, intuitive, a force of empowerment, love and compassion – I had to be all those things for myself FIRST.
By the way – nothing is “fixed.” I haven’t “arrived” anywhere – meaning this is an ongoing journey. My funk still shows up, I still doubt myself at times, my self-talk can be unkind – but the difference now is that I notice – and I don’t tolerate it anymore – and I stop it. I breathe, I love, I give myself grace and compassion. There’s just too much at stake not to. I cannot love my babies and my family and be who I’m meant to be in this life if I am not kind and gentle with myself first.
Momming is HARD. We don’t have to add to it by being unkind to ourselves along the way.
So, today Mama, if you’re reading this, and it’s been a tough day, or you’re struggling with negative thoughts about yourself and being a mom, I give you permission to speak sweetly to yourself, to give yourself a break and to meet yourself with love and compassion. It’s the greatest gift you can give yourself.