There has been a lot of talk about “taking care of ourselves.” We NEED to take care of ourselves. However, when our lives change through having a child or children, we find “time for ourselves” a precious commodity, if it exists at all.
As a mom, I can, at times, feel happier and more fulfilled than I ever imagined possible. I may find myself loving my child more than anyone or anything in the world. And I can feel as though I finally realize why I was put on this earth.
At other times, feelings of “overwhelm” and guilt deluge me. I become frightened of my responsibilities as mother and wife, cook and housekeeper, lover and friend. I feel as though… I’m not DOING enough, not bringing in enough money, not “contributing” enough. I become overwrought with my sense of “not enough-ness.” Ultimately I feel trapped and want to escape.
What is this phenomenon about? Am I the only one to experience these feelings? I have two fears: the first is that, Yes, I am the only one feeling this way. Equally as frightening, if not more so, however, is that others may be experiencing these feelings, but are either cut off from them or in denial. Perhaps too much shame is attached to these feelings to talk about them.
I feel as though… I’m not DOING enough, not bringing in enough money, not “contributing” enough.
What is the danger in not owning and talking about these feelings? Simply, they end up getting “split off” from us, and “projected” onto someone, probably either our spouse, closest loved ones, or worse yet, our children.
Here is where the concept of “responsibility” comes into play. Our ever-so-challenging task at this stage, in addition to taking care of our families and homes, is taking responsibility for ourselves, namely our feelings and what we need. We become consumed by making sure everyone else is covered… where do we fit in???
We need to take time for ourselves . . . we need to talk about us, what we’re experiencing, and determine the best course of action to get our needs met. This includes how best to communicate with our spouses and loved ones about what we are experiencing and how best they can help us. This also includes owning “early” feelings, which may arise as a result of having a child.
Old issues and feelings emerge as we are caring for our little ones. Perhaps feelings of resentment at not being helped or taken care of come up. We are doing so much to take care of others… why aren’t we getting something in return?
What can we do? We need to discuss these feelings, learn effective and assertive communication skills, and take care of ourselves in responsible, non-aggressive ways.
Why? Because modeling these attributes for our children is the kindest, most rewarding gift we can offer. Not only does it teach them how to be more effective people in the world, but it allows us to feel more worthy about ourselves, so that we can feel as though we are “enough.”
This ability, however, is not without much effort and self-examination. And, as Aristotle stated, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
How do we achieve this sense of self-worth? By joining others to share our various experiences and decrease our sense of isolation and fear.