I took the advice of a wise sage yesterday and gave myself a day off.
Do you ever take a day off? Really? Truly?
(I struggle to do that!)
So, this is the parenting tip of the day:
Self Care and the art of nourishment.
I’m all for balance. In theory. But in reality, my life swirls like a hurricane. Is yours like that too?
Sometimes, I need a pull up. I tell myself that my children and husband are the most important things in my world, but when I step back and take a look at my life through the eyes of an outsider, the honest viewpoint would be that sometimes my ‘dream life’ and my ‘real-life’ do not match. When I am busy, with a million things to do, and a zillion articles to write, or books to edit or photos to take, or emails to answer, I can be neglectful. I can be rushed. I can be snappy. I can be a big grumpy bum.
My life has felt like it is leaning a little sideways this past month. We renovated. We moved. We settled. We unpacked. And my husband went away to work. Again. Parenting as a single parent demands even more energy. So I am tired. Tired of the expectations I place upon myself, tired of the demands on my time. Just. Simply. Exhausted.
Saturday was a day of professional development for my educational practice. I love to attend these days, as they are always nurturing and nourishing for both mind and body. I love to catch up with old colleagues, eat deliciously beautiful organic home-made food and revel in the words of wise and glorious individuals. Saturday was the first time I heard from Dr Lakshimi. Dr Lakshimi is a Pediatrician based in Mullumbimby who specialised in holistic health. If you ever have the chance to listen to her, it would be well worth the effort.
Dr Lakshimi suggested that as mothers (and fathers) we are involved in the serious business of ‘care-taking’. We take care of our little ones, gently guiding them and nurturing them, and helping them to learn skills over time. We feed them life-giving foods and surround them with love. Most of us take our jobs pretty seriously. (Many of us worry or feel guilty that we don’t do a good enough job. My tip: If we do worry or feel guilty, that itself is the KEY to informing us that we are doing a GREAT job. Give yourself a pat on the back and read on. You deserve to hear this)
But for all the care we give them, are they thankful? No. In fact, if we look at our own relationships with our mothers in particular, are we thankful or grateful? Not always. I’m still happy for my mum to cook me dinner when I visit. In some naughty way, I almost expect it. It’s that deep seated belief that our mothers are there to care for us, ingrained from birth. Although we intuitively know better than to take advantage of our mothers once we become adults, we still do it. Our children will do it to us too. Our role as a mother is ingrained with the image and virtues of the ‘Sophia’, this feminine aspect of nurturing and giving. When we accept motherhood and are gifted with a child, caring and nurturing (even if we are proudly liberated) are two aspects of ourselves that we must find and nurture. This is our gift to our children, given out of our own free will.
That is not to say it is not difficult. It is. Nurturing and nourishing others is a tiresome job. No doubt about it. But to run ourselves dry, leaving just a shadowy imprint in the lives of our children instead of our fullest most juicy expressions of joyful life is not the way either.
Dr Lakshimi’s very important parent tip is this: We must give ourselves permission to care for our own self FIRST.
To put ourselves first at the beginning of the day. To take that time out, that preparation, whatever it may be, to really nurture our deepest soul. In fact, she suggested that we look at ‘fussiness’ in a different light. If someone is really fussy, say for example, with just how they must imbibe their first coffee of the day (here we go: brewed from freshly ground grains, served in a certain pot, on a specially selected tray, with only full cream biodynamic milk and organic raw sugar, taken at the table on the bedroom balcony with the daily newspaper and no interruptions for 15 minutes), then this person is truly nourishing their soul in the best way they know how.
And if someone takes the time out every single day to ensure that their inner nature/soul is really and truly ‘met’ at least once in a 24 hour period, their inner well is filled and they have the strength and energy and fortitude to give of themselves fully to others, whether that be their children or work or whatever.
It may be your thing is to take 40 minutes out each morning to exercise, or create your favourite freshly squeezed juice, or check in with friends on Facebook, or eat lunch in the lovely park by the river each day, or throw a line into the creek. It doesn’t matter WHAT it is, so long as the WHAT is your thing. The thing that feeds and nourishes YOU.
We can all be martyrs.
“No, I’m fine. I don’t need a cup of tea”, when I’d give my arm for one.
“Oh no, thanks anyway. I won’t go. It’s too much trouble”, instead of taking up my friend’s offer to have Ned over for an afternoon of play whilst I attended a screening of a doco I wanted (but not needed) to see.
“Oh sure, I’ll work. No, there’s nothing else I need to be doing”
“Ok Tommy, you can go to football training three times a week. We’ll just have to have late dinners, that’s all”
I’m guilty. You too?
Yesterday, I went to a charity event for my friend Bronwyn who is battling cancer. It was wonderful to see a whole lot of old friends and hang out and buy raffle tickets and give Bronwyn a big hug. My treat to myself was to swap my cash (donated to Bronwyn) for a shoulder massage. I could feel I needed it.
But the wake up call was the lady telling me to stop, that my body was so overwhelmed with motion that I needed to chill and take time out or risk my future health. In light of the messages from the previous day also, I decided to heed the call.
So, today I ignored the calls of my computer. I turned off my phone. I shut the door to my office. And I grabbed a whole lot of craft materials. I sewed and read books to Ned and flicked through a magazine and didn’t hop into the shower until 10am. And we journeyed to Bangalow for a cream bun (Ned) and a fruit flan (me) and origami paper. Today, I gave myself to me and to Ned. Oh, what a day it was!
How will you nourish yourself this week?