Posts Tagged "nurture"

8 Ideas to Nurture Your Self Through Motherhood

Posted on Feb 15, 2013 in Featured, Parenting | 2 comments

8 Ideas to Nurture Your Self Through Motherhood

Yesterday, I posted about how difficult it can be to nurture our own identities while mindfully choosing to make sacrifices in the season of mothering young children. So then, how do we maintain a sense of self, or prepare for the future, when we are busy living a life on hold? (Yes, I know Life with Young Children is not really a life on hold; it’s more of a beautiful, chaotic, heartbreaking and life-sustaining dance in time lapse photography that, sped up, becomes a dazzling and breathless blur of colour and sound). Today I give you 8 Ideas to Nurture Your Self Through Motherhood. These may be common sense to some, but I hope at least one strikes a cord with you. I’ve tried to include things that require various levels of involvement and capital. A word about the links I’ve included: I’m neither affiliated with nor endorsing any of these people, but wanted to give some examples of places to get started so you’d have an idea what’s out there if you hadn’t considered some of these ideas before. Read—Novels are ok (and could be coupled with a book club perhaps so that you also have some adult interaction to look forward to) but I’d also recommend reading on subjects that might interest you as a career, hobby, or course of study when you feel the time is right to venture into more time away from your kids. If you want to go back to school, or start a new job after mat leave, or start a business or a new hobby, you don’t have to wait to learn about those things. You can read up on it now. Plus, it gives you something interesting to talk about when you find yourself at parties (if you ever DO find yourself at parties—I know I don’t) and you’re worried you might mention poop or the laundry. Take a Course—If you have occasional childcare, or a partner with a flexible schedule, and the cash, you could take a continuing education course at your local college for one term, either just for fun (like wine tasting, or Expressionism) or to gain a skill you might want to use if you decide to return to work outside (or from) the home (like Illustrator, or bookkeeping, or First Aid). Another option for fun classes is your local community center. Similarly, if childcare is an issue, you could sign up for all kinds of online courses (photography, writing, web design, project management, or even dreaming big). The benefit with these is that they are often self-paced and can be completed at night or during nap time, and they usually feature an active social network online so you won’t feel too isolated. Volunteer—Even once a week, or once a month, without the children gives us something to occupy our minds that is about us, and our gifts, not about being Baby’s Mom. Ideally, try to find something that isn’t kid-related (i.e. not the PTA or soccer team) unless those kid-related volunteer opportunities give you the chance to practice or gain new skills (like chairing a meeting, organizing an event, acting as treasurer, designing and writing a newsletter), rather than just baking for the bake sale or organizing the bottle drive. Exercise—Exercise is proven to make both our bodies and minds feel better. It reduces depression, helps with motivation, and often, gets us out of the house. It might mean a precious kid-free hour at the gym or hot yoga class, or it might mean doing Wii fit in your living room with your toddler “helping” or maybe just going for a brisk walk instead of driving to preschool. It’s going to be good for you no matter what, but if you have the time and energy to take it a step further, I would recommend trying a bunch of things until you hit on the physical activity that you really love, that you can look forward to for it’s own merit (not just for the break from parenting and for fulfilling the list of SHOULDS...

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Nurturing Your Self as Mother

Posted on Feb 14, 2013 in Featured, Parenting | 1 comment

Nurturing Your Self as Mother

Last month, in my post Seasons of Mothering, I wrote about my decisions to willingly give up some things temporarily while my kids are young. Then, last week, thanks to Facebook, I was blessed to read I Became a Mother, and Died to Live, where the author eloquently (and accurately) describes how the process of becoming a mother changes us irrevocably, to the point where our old self is actually gone forever. It can be particularly difficult to maintain a sense of self through those years of intense mothering, especially if we are also parenting in a way that sees us making considerable sacrifices for our children (as most of us do in one way or another). Yet, it’s important to remember that the seasons are temporary. Certainly, we have been re-born as totally different people than we were before motherhood, but we do still have identities that should be nurtured. In my post, I said: “Just as the grasshopper was unwise to play and fritter away the summer without preparing for winter, it would be unwise for me to get caught up entirely in this season with my children and to forget that there will come a time when they will need me less. It is important to nurture myself through these times of caring for my children, to make plans for when I have more time and resources and energy to devote to my dreams and goals.” Not only is it a blessing, when we feel resentful or overwhelmed, to remember that it won’t be this way forever, it’s also important to not lose sight of the fact that in the future, we will become less central to our children’s daily needs. In my opinion, it would be a shame for that time to come and catch us unawares. That is the stuff that identity crisis is made of. It is so easy to get caught up in the daily stuff of parenting; just trying to keep the house clean and everybody fed takes up a lot of time. Plus, we’re supposed to nap when the baby naps, and forget the dishes so we can get down on the floor to play with kids. Too often, it’s not the dishes that get forgotten in the endless loop of playing, cleaning, grocery shopping, diaper changing, sleep fighting, and date nighting: it’s ourselves. Finding a way to fit in meaningful self-expression and self-nurturing while also in the trenches with young kids is no easy task. Our interests might excite us to the point of competing with our children for our focus, and we can begin to resent the sacrifices that we’ve made, or to wait impatiently for our kids to grow up so we can get on with it. It might be tempting to chuck it all and just focus on our kids, “for now.” We might have been lulled into complacency by the early days with an infant when it seemed we barely had time to brush our teeth and shower, so we start living our life in stolen moments between everything else, texting, facebooking, playing Angry Birds (that’s so 2011), or watching mindless television after the kids are finally asleep. It must be a conscious decision, and a commitment to carrying on even if we don’t always get it right. We CAN make choices to live more authentically even in this time of intense mothering, to let our new self live, rather than submitting willingly to a second death. At this point, I am loath to invoke the dreaded word ‘balance’ but in humans, it isn’t like balancing stones where a static moment of balance is achieved and only maintained by staying still, which I’m telling you now is the reason why balance feels forever unachievable. Balance for us is more like balancing on a ball or a rail fence, where we can only maintain it through constant readjustments, continuous movement and compensation. This means, that there will be times when we feel that to gain balance we need to drop back on some of our interests...

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Nurture This Year

Posted on Jan 17, 2013 in Featured | 1 comment

Nurture This Year

I started off this year with a delightful houseful of family guests, and their departure was followed immediately by Aaron’s departure to work for three days on a remote island. For three days, I parented on my own, got my son back into the routine of school after several weeks off, and tried to get my kids back to a normal bedtime after a week of falling asleep at midnight with their much older cousins. Aaron returned from work with a brutal chest cold that left him with chills and a poisonous mood. Somehow in all of that, I managed to find a quiet evening to reflect on the last year and the new year, and thankfully, a word bobbed to the surface of my mind, like a cork. The word was NURTURE. nur·ture Care for and encourage the growth or development of.   This word is so perfect for our 2013 that it actually sings to me. My youngest child is turning 2 next month. I know that this year most likely holds his weaning and his potty training. This means that sometime this year for the first time in 8 years, we will no longer have a baby in our family. For the first time in 8 years, there will be no diapers, no night waking (ok, realistically, there will still be some, but there will be considerably less night waking with the direct result being a drastic improvement in my quality of life), no more breastfeeding. This is monumental. This is me saying goodbye to childbearing. This is our family moving on from baby days. This is me reclaiming some autonomy as a person, not just as a physical baby grower and tender. This is my last baby becoming physically independent: walking, talking, eating, and using the toilet on his own. This is us entering a new season. Yet, none of this is here yet. It is only on the horizon. Now is the time to nurture myself in preparation for the unfolding that will happen next year and the following years when I will have the freedom to explore some of my interests. This is a time to explore what my own hopes and wants and needs are so that when that new season arrives, I will be ready to begin. This is the year to nurture my last baby as he begins all of these tasks of making the final physical separations, to hold him tenderly as he becomes more independent, to honour the slow start-and-stop process that his weaning will likely be, and for me, to cherish the few remaining days, not just of his babyhood, but of babyhood in our family. This year, 2013, is the year my daughter begins Kindergarten so this is a time to nurture her growing independence and to respect and honour her needs and emotions when that process feels frightening and overwhelming. Lastly, we have many projects that need nurturing before they will blossom. We have our family business to tend, our partnership at the farm to develop, our cabin to finish, our yard and garden to cultivate. There is all that and more in our lives that is ready for nurturing. In this moment I see so much of our family life just like the seedling pictured above. We have planted all of these seeds, and we have watered, and we have waited, and now, the first tentative sprouts are peeking above ground. Now is not the time to forget them, to become busy and distracted. Now is the time for tenderness, for love, for attention, for caring, for forgiveness, for grace, for nurturing. Before I sign off, I wanted to share a couple of posts I came across while working through my annual reflection. Some of the things I’d like to do to nurture myself come from this great list of 10 New Year’s Resolutions You Can Keep (though I think it might be a bit much to try to implement all of them at once) and there are some great ideas for nurturing that...

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Seasons of Motherhood

Posted on Jan 12, 2013 in Featured, Parenting | 16 comments

Seasons of Motherhood

For some time now, we’ve been without regular childcare. This is partly our own fault: our old babysitter moved back to England, and we tried out some new ones but they weren’t really great matches. Our little ones have also gone through some phases of separation anxiety so we didn’t prioritize finding someone new. We decided to let it go. The reality of this, especially with no extended family living locally, is that I spend 24 hours a day with my children (we even share sleep). For either Aaron or I to go do something (a dentist appointment, parent teacher interview, work, a beer/tea/movie with a friend), we have to schedule it so that the other parent will be home, or we bring the kids along if possible. Of course, this also means that it has been nearly impossible for Aaron and I to go out together. In fact, we have sometimes even resorted to waiting until we had family visiting from 2 provinces away before we would plan to go do something together (like belatedly go out for dinner for our 10th Anniversary). Yes, I know–as I type, I can hear whole parts of the internet bursting into flames over our unwillingness to preserve the sanctity of “date night.” Of course, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this seriously impairs my ability to have my own life in addition to my role as mother. Obviously, I don’t have a career outside of raising kids, I’m not able to return to school, and my hobbies are sporadic at best. I won’t lie to you: sometimes that feels stifling and overwhelming. Sometimes I rage against the whole system (the universe, motherhood, biology–why aren’t men the ones with the boobs!?). Sometimes I just want some time for me. Sometimes I dream wistfully about what I’ll be when I grow up, I mean, when they grow up. Often, I stay up too late in the evenings, just to squeeze in a couple of kid-free hours after the last of our kids has finally (unwillingly) succumbed to slumber. It isn’t always an easy place to be. Lately, and by that I mean, since Silas was born (almost 2 years ago), I feel at peace with this. After 8 years of pregnancy and motherhood, have I finally just given up, and allowed myself to be eaten by the needs of my children? No, it’s more likely that, because Silas is our last child, I am buoyed by the knowledge that the end is in sight. Though, it’s also true that this peace over my voluntary position as a mother has burned as an ember deep inside me from the earliest days, from the first decisions that I made to set aside some of my wants and needs in deference to my children’s needs.Those choices represented an ever-shifting, intricate blend of willing sacrifice and practical necessity. Through it all, despite the times I sometimes fought against it, there was that sense of peace deep within. Call it intuition. I never questioned why I felt that way. I just knew it for what it was. So much of what I read or hear in our culture tells me that I shouldn’t be ok with stepping out of the work force for so many years, that I shouldn’t be ok with being unable to go on a date with my husband, that I shouldn’t be ok with nursing my toddler more than 4 times in a night. I hear the cautionary tale of the housewives who live their whole lives for their children, who exist only for the PTA meetings and to drive the soccer practice car-pool van, who meddle in their teenage children’s dramas, and who find themselves completely lost when their children leave for college. Yet, I don’t worry about any of those things. Ever since Silas was born, that little ember of peace and acceptance for the way things are has grown, and with it my understanding of why every single one of these sacrifices is ok with me. I have...

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