I wanted to be a mother from as early as I can remember.
This was not due to seeing my mum love being a mum, it was that I felt I would be good at it and that it would be great to be able to love something I created. Well, my childhood wish came true and I ended up being totally lost in mothering my seven children – yes you read correctly, it was the wish that kept on giving.
In being caught up in fulfilling my childhood belief that I would be a good mother, I lost my connection to the fact that I am a woman before I am anything else for anyone else.
You might be thinking of course you got lost, how wouldn’t you with seven kids! Although true, the sense of forgetting we are women first is something I have observed in many mothers with fewer children. Like mother’s before me, my life became about meeting everyone else’s needs that rarely saw me considering that I had some of my own. I am sure many mums can relate to waking up for the 6th time in the night for an unsettled baby, making cupcakes late at night for a school function the next day, or staying up late to help with homework when you are so tired you know you should be in bed.
I lacked boundaries in my mothering and allowed myself to get lost in all the shoulds and have-tos, which often resulted in me “losing” it in a big way with my kids!
This only ever happened when I ignored my body’s signals to say No or ask for help instead of going into my autopilot good-mother-should-always-be-there-for-her-kid’s pattern. Ultimately I put caring for myself last in the very long list of priorities.
The truth is that all my trying to be a good mother often ended up with both myself and my kids feeling bad, which was completely counter to what I was trying to achieve. This would lead me to feeling guilty for resenting the kids so I would up my trying even harder and the destructive cycle would begin again which always came at an expense to myself.
This sequence was so ingrained that it took my body becoming very unwell to give me the stop I needed to consider there had to be another way. With no choice but to change, I began a journey to get honest with myself about why I was doing all the doing for my kids and why I didn’t feel I deserved to make a space to care and nurture myself.
In the process of getting honest and as I slowly embraced self-care and self-nurturing in my life I discovered:
- Self-care and nurturing are not selfish, they are an absolute must to be truly able to freely care and nurture another
- Taking simple steps to embrace self-care and nurturing leads to the next caring choice
- Self-care and nurturing build a deeper connection to my body that has changed how I feel about myself that is way more loving
- My self-worth is not dependant on what I do for my kids or anyone else
- Mothering is much easier from a foundation of caring for me first
- My children respond to me being honest about how I am truly feeling
- One of the greatest gifts I can offer my children is role modeling loving and caring for myself as a priority
- I am not only a woman first but my connection to this comes from a love that I now feel within me
This ongoing journey of self-honesty and being willing to embrace self-care and nurturing as essentials in my everyday life has transformed how I feel about myself and how I now mother.
I now view mothering as something I do, not who I am.
There are times when I still get a little lost in mothering shoulds and have-tos but the great thing is I am much more aware that it just doesn’t feel right. These days, instead of being trapped in the cycle of guilt and trying harder, I can reflect on why I got caught up and then respond from the loving woman I know myself to be.
by Sharon Gavioli, age 54, Brisbane Australia
For Further Inspiration:
Are you a mum or a woman first? Miranda asks in Mothering the Essence of True Nurturing
Do we women lose our identity after having a child? Read Nicole’s take in The Woman, The Mother
Read what a four-legged object (a chair!) can do for you and your beauty routine with Sharon