Motherhood: The Importance of Replenishing1
Different women replenish the resource of self in different ways…
When we become mothers, something extraordinary happens. It is exciting, terrifying, beautiful, powerful, and yet, somehow, ordinary too. After all, motherhood is nothing new. For many, our life focus changes when we become mothers. Something is lost; something is gained. In this shuffle, it is surprisingly easy, even justifiable, to lose oneself. We are eager to be good mothers and to handle our new job well. Many mothers throw themselves into their new roles with an admirable selflessness. However admirable this may be, it is very important not too lose oneself too much or for too long. This is because being a parent requires a certain kind of resource, the resource of self. Despite how it may appear on the surface, maintaining and replenishing the resource of self is a selfless act. It is what ensures one’s ability to be strong, consistent and present for one’s child.
Different women replenish the resource of self in different ways. Some women need a moment to themselves every day, a cup of tea with a good book, for example. Others can go for longer periods of time and then need a day at a spa to replenish. Some women find that exercise is what restores their balance, energy and ability to mother. It does not really matter what it is, but it is important to make time for the thing that replenishes one’s resources and not to feel guilty or deny oneself of it.
I think that the concept of “the bad mother” scares many women from taking proper care of themselves. Characters like Dr. Seuss’ Lazy Mayzie in Horton Hatches the Egg, who admits she does not like motherhood and flies away from her nest and forgets to return,
“Sighed Mayzie, a lazy bird hatching an egg: “I’m tired and I’m bored, and I’ve kinks in my leg, from sitting, just sitting here day after day. It’s work! How I hate it! I’d much rather play! I’d take a vacation, fly off for a rest, if I could find someone to stay on my nest! If I could find someone, I’d fly away-free…”
discourages us from doing what we need to do to stay replenished . This said, you will not become a “Layzie Mayzie” or a “Mommy Dearest” for taking a bit of time for yourself. The goal of that time is to replenish and to become better able to mother.
If cost is an issue in finding time to yourself, try to find creative solutions. Trade childcare with a friend so that you can go for a hike to clear your head. Offer to drop off a meal or help an older child with homework to “pay” someone for childcare.
I remember feeling that taking a moment for myself took more effort than staying and carrying on. I now look back and can see that a break would have energized me in really healthy ways. So don’t deny yourself. Doing so will erode your ability to mother in the long run.
Another way to look at taking some time to take care of yourself is to think about the message it sends to your children. As mothers, we want to teach our children to protect themselves in everything that they do and to stay strong and centered, selfish when they need to be. Model taking good care of yourself. Show them that maintaining and replenishing the resource of self is an activity that ensures one’s ability to be strong, consistent and present for others. Take the long view. Your grandchildren may benefit.
“Every person needs to take one day away, a day in which one consciously separates the past from the future…
a day in which no problems are confronted, no solutions reached for.” -Maya Angelou
[AUTHOR: Hilary Doubleday]