originally posted March 02, 2007
Mothering Myself, too
How can I mother others (reader, be gentle), if I can't mother myself?
The first mother-god in our life is our own mother. She appears flawless, beautiful, all knowing, all merciful, kissing boo-boos, wiping tears, untangling curls; until we hit pre-teen years, then wham! she becomes the hag, easy to find fault with - we don't like the way she does her hair or the way she dresses, the clothes she buys for us are uncool, her disgusting personal habits (in our view) gross us out; not to mention the embarassing hoos-hoos over the back yard in search of us at supper time or bed time or the fact that she sees danger lurking on every corner.
In my life, things were complicated by the fact that my mom suffered from the disease of alcoholism - that made the transition to hag come a little quicker. I was the eldest of eight, and harnessed into 'little motherhood' at a young age - diapering babies, holding bottles, feeding pablum to brothers and sisters, babysitting - were all par for the course. Good material for growing up fast. Yet shouldering responsibilities too big for my small shoulders.
When mothering my own children came along, I tried so hard to 'do it right'. Be that perfect mom. Huh! And of course, no one is perfect. I began to resent having the weight of responsibility on my shoulders again. Somewhere down the line I realized my own need for mothering was still unfulfilled - that part of me that hadn't really grown up yet.
So how could I begin to mother myself? Hmmmm, perhaps giving up on that perfectionism, not pushing myself so hard to be all things to all people, not taking on too many tasks at once (which causes panic, anxiety to set in, and mad rushing, which usually results in accidents or at the very least, too much yelling); by slowing down, letting things come to me, letting go, not being 'in charge' all the time or feeling overly responsible for everyone in my life. Giving myself a break, taking it one day at a time.
Also, in ceasing the self-criticism, harsh self-judgment. Reminding myself that I am ok. I am enough. I am not perfect.
When I am hard on myself, I push the kids too hard. They react, I react, we all get a little crazy. They remind me, chill out, don't sweat it, Relax! They don't need me hovering. They are learning to manage their own time, get homework assignments in on time, get enough sleep, come home on time. (Time is a huge issue here, I'm noticing) I call them reminders. They say, Mom, we know what we have to do! Trust us. They actually need less mothering.
When I don't feel like a 'good mom', when I feel like I'm blowing up too often, talking with other moms is helpful. Having a women's circle is a god-send. Turning to my husband and admitting I'm not the superwoman I think I am is humbling but good for the heart. Letting down my armour, asking for help, sitting in meditation, practising yoga, coming back into the body.
Today, I am nobody's rock. I need mothering myself.
Many people may rely on me for leadership, team participation, support, or just companionship and friendly presence. But today, my mother-ship is docked in the service bin. I need some time out for just me, for heart care repairs, for recovery from the mommy battles. Instead of tackling the list of things to do, I'll take a nap.
Snowstorm outside makes me want to stay inside where it's warm. Breathing in, breathing out, resting, unlatching all the 'shoulds'. All navigational devices and compasses are on 'rest mode' while we wait out the storm.
Breathe with me,