An Infinite Loop
I used to think that it was an either or choice. As a mom, I bought into the myth that we can either nourish ourselves or nourish our families. Not both. Never both. Not allowed. No way.
But we know in our hearts that there’s something off about this “Mom As Saint” or “Mom as Martyr” split.
I wanted to do both. I longed to do both. But because of this polarity, I felt trapped in the middle, unable to do either. I felt tapped out, worn thin, tired to the bone, so I wasn’t showing up fully with family. I longed to be present and really play with them, but I was afraid to because I felt like if I gave any more of myself, I would crumble.
I’d heard all the platitudes—nourish myself, take some “me time,” put my own oxygen mask on first. And I really wanted to. It sounded so, so appealing. And yet, I couldn’t do it. Given a moment to myself, I couldn’t let go, I couldn’t relax, the guilt wheedled and needled me. “My kids need me.” Or, “I should be doing x, y, and z instead,” I thought, over and over again.
I was stuck in the paradox—I couldn’t enjoy my kids fully because I felt empty, and I couldn’t fill up because I felt like I should’ve been giving that time and attention to my kids.
And I know I’m not alone in this in-between place.
So how do we get unstuck? How do we move forward?
What if all it takes is a shift in perspective, a refusal to buy in to the myth that mothers have to be either martyrs or saints? What if we reframe it and let nourishing ourselves and nourishing our families become a fluid experience, an easy back and forth?
I remind myself that I will not disappear if I fully give my attention to the kids. Rather, it is in the fully giving that I find myself. And I remind myself that when I find the time (or make the time!) to be alone, that this is not being selfish. Rather, it is in recognizing that I am worthy of receiving that I can truly give. And I noticed that one action feeds and nourishes the other. Nourishing myself, I nourish my family. Nourishing my family, I nourish myself. There is no divide.
And to realize that we hold multitudes. It is possible to be fully present with my family, and fully present with myself at the same time. Realizing that there is no longer a need to check out to protect myself, I can tap in to the particular nourishments available in each moment. And come alive.
Let yourself see. Let yourself love. Let yourself be loved. An infinite loop of nourishment.
About our Mothering Space Writer
Hi, I’m Miki. I create and tend spaces in which we can be truly seen and deeply loved. I believe that we can each design our lives so that they are grounded in, and flow from that which we hold most dear. This is my compass as I mother my kids, support my husband, photograph families, and write about it all. Won’t you join me? TheStillSpace.com facebook.com/thestillspace and on Twitter @MikiDeVivo