Nearly 6 months ago, I became a mother for the second time. I have been blessed with two, vivacious, creative and dynamic daughters.
My births were both epic, happening the way they ‘never’ do’. They were dramatic, powerful and totally unique. They each transformed me. Or, more accurately, AWAKENED me. I have come to know fierce, loving, tender parts of myself that without their presence in my life, I am positive, would have gone unrealized in this lifetime. My life story and life’s work are re-written because my daughters came into my world.
Kindergarten, colds, my husband’s crazy work hours, my precious business, friends, in-laws, my body healing, breastfeeding, reading to my daughters, walking in the park, changing diapers, volunteering for bake sales, play dates, learning to give both of my girls a bath, feed them dinner and get everyone to bed, learning to meet everyone’s needs in my family, mine included-I have lived A LOT in 6 months. I have endured some seriously HARD moments and have basked in the greatest LOVE and joy I have ever known.
It has been a hell of a ride and it isn’t going to slow down…ever…and especially not with children…especially not for women like you and me, women who are busy, multi-faceted, active, healthy, involved in your community, your work and your family.
So, how do you cope? How do you champion your highest self in the moments when your lowest common denominator of critical, stressed-out, angry, scared mom is screaming inside of your head? How do you cope on the days when NOTHING seems to go ‘right’ or ‘as planned’ but somehow, there you all are, at bedtime putting the day and yourselves to rest?
Living a multi-purpose life takes an enormous amount of flexibility and resilience. There is no magic wand (even though I like to imagine myself as Mary Poppins zipping through my house picking up every discarded toy and piece of clothing on the floor). What there is inside of you is determination. The determination born of all consuming love. The determination of motherhood. And somehow, you just get it done, day after day.
BUT, who are you while you are ‘getting it done’? I ask this without judgement. I ask this of myself daily. It’s an important question and the honest answer can truly be a guiding post for you.
I recently heard myself quipping ‘no’, stop’, ‘oh my god! Please just stop for two seconds and let me catch up’! to my 5-year old. I heard her say to me ‘Mommy, I want you to be nicer to me’.
It hurts my heart to write those words. I know that all I want my daughters to know of me is unconditional love. I want them to live free from the struggles that I hold within myself every day – the fear of death, poverty, tragedy, the fear that I’m damaging her self-love, self-confidence and purity despite my best efforts – that somehow I’m failing as their mother.
What gets me back to the other side of this downward spiral? What do I use to pull myself out of a self-critical free-fall? How do I get back to ‘I love you. You’re doing an amazing job. She’s happy. They are both happy. I just made a vegetable filled dinner and they ate it! I am so in love with him. He lights up my life’? What get’s me to take a deep breath, slow down, sit down and parent my daughters instead of snapping?
My community, other mothers, my husband, my family and, most importantly, my daily exercise, meditation and physical, self-care practice.
It is my number one, total priority – I mean before just about anything else. I make sure that I spend at least 20 minutes on my mat, on my roller, in a class, sitting still, moving, breathing, loving and taking amazing care of my body and mind. Because, being an authentic, loving mother, wife and entrepreneur are ALL important to me!
When my mind begins to guilt trip me for taking an hour away from my children, practicing yoga, moving breath through my body, meditating, letting great music and a great teacher take me out of myself, I remind myself of the pain of speaking to my daughter harshly and I know it’s worth every second that I miss them and they miss me.
I know that the mother greeting them when I return is one with love in her eyes and patience in her voice. One who has released stress hormones, moved fear pumping adrenaline out and invited softness back in. The mother who will return is the woman I most want to be.
I spend every day having a relationship with my family, but what will they have of me without my own relationship to myself? Giving birth is a moment in time. Becoming a mother is a life-long journey. It’s about error and correction, not failure – it is about learning. And the more you can take the critical, guilt ridden, perfectionist trip out of the equation, the more energy you have to be YOU and to know who that is day after day, month after month and year after year.
There will be a moment when the kids don’t need you as much, when you are ‘free’ to sleep in, pick up a new hobby and travel – but what will you have left in your children? You are raising the next generation of thinkers, leaders and voters. Yours is arguably the most important job on the planet – and you need to be at your best – meaning at your most authentic. Take care of yourself, dear mother. You are truly doing a magnificent job.
Rachel Welch is the creator of Revolution Motherhood, a fitness community empowering and strengthening mothers from the inside out. Her 6 and 12-week postpartum Foundations classes combine deep core rehabilitation, strength training, yoga, pilates and barre all in a private, group community of motivated, nurturing, fun, inspiring mothers. www.rachelannewelch.com Her next program begins February 9, 2017.