On Motherhood and Self Care
As mamas, it is necessity for us to take care of ourselves. There are so many ways to do this, and different acts of self care resonate with different people. But what I am learning, time and time again, is that self care is essential to be grounded and balanced (as balanced as we can be:) in our mothering. We give all of ourselves all day everyday and nights too. We are there to listen to every word, play, teach, cook, clean, be there for our partners, our pets... the list goes on. When I first became a mother it was easy to lose myself in the intensity of being on call all day for every thing. I am learning, though, to not feel guilty to take the time I need to center myself. I feel this is so important for our children too, as it not only makes us better mothers, but it teaches them how to take care of themselves.
After the initial shock, I was able to relax into my first pregnancy, mostly. I remember indulging in nature walks by myself to connect with my baby, rubbing my belly with Shea butter every night, crafting a lot, and reading all I could on natural birthing. My second pregnancy, we were trying to buy a house and move, so self care didn't have such a high priority on my list. I have finally learned through this pregnancy what I need to give to myself; to reconnect with the essence within that is greater than Mother, that encompasses all aspects of Me, the place where Spirit resides and communicates when I'm still and receptive enough to hear the messages that come.
After my first two pregnancies I had postpartum anxiety and so for this pregnancy I am trying to create a solid foundation to stand on for the chaos that is soon to come with having a newborn, along with two little ones. A question that I have been asking myself lately is, how can motherhood take me deeper, rather than further away, from myself? I have been gathering, not surprisingly, that it all comes back to the heart; gentleness and compassion with them and myself. We are all learning, we are all doing the best we can. This softening translates to everyday life by having patience, slowing down and looking into my children's eyes when talking to them, and letting them feel heard and understood. It looks like connection when I place value on playing/being with/teaching them rather than doing the dishes. It shows up when I lose my patience, and then go to them and apologize. By being gentle and forgiving with myself when I get to this point, and learning about what boundaries I need to set. I am hoping that, after the initial adjustment period with a newborn, balance will come, and as they grow I will be grounded enough to keep up with their quick changes. My hope is that I will be able to be present and still enough to appreciate the moments of sweetness and innocence that are infused in the moments of our days. That the tantrums will teach me to listen, and allow them to have a safe place express themselves; that I will learn from the discomfort that arises within me, and dig deeper inside to the places that feel resistance to their strong feelings. That I will show them that getting those feelings out is the healthiest thing you can do; that I can show them ways to channel their sadness and anger in productive ways.
And so, to build this foundation, self care for me has been looking like this for my third pregnancy; I wake up before them and practice. I practice yoga, breathwork, reciting mantras, meditation. If I have time, I read a book. Sometimes this lasts 5 minutes before they wake, most times I get about 30 minutes. I surrender to it, and see mothering as a continuation of my practice. I fill up a teapot the night before and sip on nourishing nettle infusions throughout the day. I make sure I am eating lots of protein, fats, fermented foods and green veggies. I stretch when I need to throughout the day. I listen to my body and rest when it says to rest. I take naps a few times a week with my one year old. I fit in bubble baths when I can. I take supplements to support and nourish my body and my baby. I lay in the sun while my children play outside. I slow down, I listen. Sometimes this slowing down is uncomfortable. Sometimes- many times- my mind races with what I should/ need to do. But I am learning that doing things that the mind says we don't have time for is medicine for the soul.
And so my hope is that us mamas find balance, in whatever way that looks to you. That we are able to balance self care with the caring of our children, and teach them the importance of listening to our bodies and the callings of our hearts. That we show them that it's possible to follow our passions while teaching them to follow theirs. That we show our daughters that motherhood isn't about losing our identity, but integrating it into something more beautiful, powerful and whole that emerges after we give birth. That we are able to put up healthy boundaries when needed so we can teach them how to do the same. That, while our days are filled with care and chores and responsibility, in these acts lies a sacredness that slowing down brings to light. May you find your balance, even in the imbalance, and may your days take you deeper <3