It is quite hard to be kind to others if we cannot be kind to ourselves. As moms we often pride ourselves on sacrifice and stoicism.
…I’m fine if my kid is fine.
…As long as my kid gets what he needs, then I’m good.
What a sad error. And how untrue. We are separate from our children. And we will never learn it more soundly than when one day, if we are lucky, they leave us and join the world into which they were born. It will dawn on us that they have their own lives. And we can sit and bemoan the fact, (when really, was there any other outcome we would wish for?) rage against their spouses, their homes, their decisions, OR we can embrace them. We can love them just as we always did. Whole heartedly, with respect for their separateness and their right to live their own lives. We can love the things they love, simply because we love them. That is the kind of love that I hope pours freely out of my heart when my kids leave the shelter of our roof.
But I truly believe that in order to do that, we must first love ourselves. We must put ourselves first, always.
People sometimes balk at my decision to be a full-time stay at home mother. And I get tired, frustrated, down and depressed. Don’t we all. But here’s the truth. I stayed home for me. Not for my kids, though perhaps I thought that was important. But I did it because I knew that in my heart of hearts, deep down to my roots, that were I absent for these moments of babyhood I would forever regret it. I made the choice not as a sacrifice, but as a way of honoring my self. How lucky for me that I was able to do so. My decision to stay home and take care of my kids, was really a decision to stay home and take care of me. It’s important to remember that. The path we are on is the path we are on. And we are on it for a reason.
That said, as a stay at home mother, or as a working mother, or as a combination of those two things, our cups sometimes run empty. Maybe it’s more often than we care to admit. But it is up to us to fill them. If we don’t, we won’t have much to give away. And even if we somehow manage give it all away, we won’t have anything left for ourselves, and when we hit that point, we won’t have a thing to give.
It’s hard to be kind when we are not kind to ourselves. It’s hard to love others wholeheartedly and completely with no reservations when we don’t do ourselves the same honor. It’s hard to teach our children the skill of peace and love if we can not set an example. How can they learn to love themselves if they have nothing to model on? And how can we be gentle to our children if we are not gentle to ourselves?
We would never want our babies to grow up with all the doubts and questions, worries and sadnesses that we carry with us. And the best thing we can do for them is to let it go. We can secure our own mask before assisting others because without our own mask we simply cannot assist others. We will run out of air.
Be patient to yourself, be kind. Breathe. When I sit down on my cushion I am securing my own mask so I can assist others. So I can take responsibility for the beautiful souls we brought into this world. I breathe in, I breathe out. I listen to the wind, the birds, the leaves, the world fades away, I fade away, and there is no greater peace than that. In a good session I become nothing more than breath. And it is magical.
Remember to secure your mask. Remember to breathe, remember to be kind to yourself. And on days when the whole world seems against you, be your own friend, your own shoulder, your own strength. Love yourself. You matter. Oh so much. If you can’t do it for you, do it for them. Show them how to be kind.