I once asked a friend who she wanted to become before she was a mother. It was an innocent question. She struck my interest as somebody hugely passionate, warm and excitable and I wondered whether she ever sought to work in a large corporate firm or even saw herself owning a successful business. I certainly saw her as somebody capable at anything she put her mind to. She looked at me as if she had never considered the question before, her eyes wandering off and trying to remember who she actually was before her twins, now both 15 years old came into her life. She had gotten married and fell pregnant in her early twenties and many of us relished in her bundles of joy whenever we got together for brunch. But I realised that this question concerned her. She expressed that now that her children were getting older, she didn’t know what to do with her time. It seemed like they needed her less and when they did, it was usually to run a few errands for them or do school drop-offs in the morning.
This story got me thinking about the various roles which us women come to play in our everyday lives. The many hats which we each wear and transition so effortlessly into everyday deserves nothing short of a good round of applause. We do a lot. We often run the household, cook, clean, attend to each and every child both physically and emotionally, are our children’s therapist and chauffeur and make sure that homework is done, groceries are bought and that everybody is happy and doing well. But that’s not all. We also naturally seek to connect with our partners or husbands and still try, every now and then to slot in ‘girls night’ somewhere in there (when everybody’s schedule coincides, that is).
As much as each of these roles delight us and make our hearts swell, I want us to consider the real women behind these roles..
She has needs too. She’s only human too. She feels overwhelmed too. She sometimes needs somebody to make lunch for her and chauffeur her to work too.
Do any of these intrinsic needs make us selfish? Of course not. They only make us human! A key question which I keep returning back to, time and again is the question of how I am nurturing the woman behind these roles.
I often compare myself to a full battery. I rarely allow my phone to dip below 15% battery and I always, always make sure that I take an extra battery charger with me, wherever I go.
What can serve as an extra battery charger for our emotions when we’re edging towards ‘empty?’ I usually start with asking myself what percentage I’m on and what I need right now to give myself that extra boost. Usually, I like getting to at least a 55% before I attempt the next task. When we de-role from just being a mother, wife or friend, we also return to our most basic and magnificent selves. We are women, FIRST. We are human, FIRST. Sometimes, I find myself longing for some quiet time and I offer this wholeheartedly to myself. At other times, I take a quiet drive (with no music playing or phone) and just park off and watch the ocean.
For me, being a woman means that I want to embrace my femininity. I want to invest time in my body, healthy eating and pampering my family with home-cooked dinner that we enjoy together. Every night, we decompress together. We share our days, our frustrations and our gratitude. We set the table together and clean up afterwards. I also choose to pamper myself with delegating tasks which I find overwhelming, like shopping. I try to shop online. Every few weeks I also go for a massage and treat myself to a manicure every 6-8 weeks. I spend a few extra dollars and get somebody to come home and color my hair for me. All of these little things add up because they teach my body, mind and soul that I’m paying attention. I’m paying attention to my own needs and I recognize and appreciate the specific signals which my body is constantly sending me, alerting me to more of what I need.
Seth Godin says it so beautifully: “If we’re hungry, the obvious solution is to eat something. If we’re restless, it pays to get up and walk around. Is stress different? Along the way, it seems as though we got confused about the best way to deal with the stress that comes from work and from the projects we work on. Reassurance is futile, because there’s never enough of it. Some folks manage to get their projects done without this sort of stress. They’re not using the search for reassurance as fuel. The solution to stress isn’t reassurance. It’s accurately understanding the world as it is, and making choices about what we do and how we do it. But far more than that, we relieve stress by making choices about the stories we tell ourselves. It’s not easy to change your story. For some people, and in some situations, it’s almost impossible. But that doesn’t mean that more stress in search of reassurance is going to make your search for a useful story any easier. If others in your situation have figured out a story that works for them, that’s a good sign that you might find one too. If no one has, changing your situation (if you can) might be the best way forward. But we need to get unhooked from the cycle of reassurance.”
The beauty of being a mother is that we can choose to fill our lives with joy through both motherhood and what it means to be a woman.
What a blessing.
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