From the Trenches: Confessions & Secrets to Being a Better MotherSelena Mills
I’m a firm believer of the mantra that taking care of oneself as a mother is one of the very best things that we can do for our families.
That may clash with some other parenting and mothering mantras out there, sure, but we’re not going to talk about those today. Let’s just say that I am no mothering martyr … and I’m okay with that.
But it hasn’t always been that way.
I used to struggle tremendously with self-care. That is – I wanted to give myself personal time for little things such as showering, working out or even a little pampering, but I felt guilt every single time that I afforded myself any of those things.
Time alone to do grown-up things uninterrupted, like read, write, or sew. Or Garden. Or Sleep. Those are just a few of the things that many are quick to scoff at new parents for desiring.
It’s as though we’re supposed to give these things up to be better focused, present parents – the ultimate mothers. To this, I say nay. I’m sure I’ll be called selfish, just as I’ve been many times before.
Since New Year’s Day, I’ve felt compelled to live a simpler life – one where I can focus more on myself, my partnership, and my children. To strike a balance with work and life. For me, for us, this desired ideal rang in with finality during a vacation that we took sans kids. For seven whole nights. It was the longest I’ve ever been away from my little ones.
It had been four long years (in reality – the whole of our five year relationship) since we had taken a romantic vacation away together, somewhere hot, luxurious and totally self-indulgent. There were many factors for this; such as finances, early parenthood and simply far too much work.
Without getting all obnoxious about New Year’s resolutions, I must admit that 2013 has brought a burgeoning change, a bubbling of hot, languid hope rising from deep within my belly. It’s been washing over me in waves, these ideas on how I want to live this life for myself and with my loves, ideas for positive lifestyle, and mothering changes that I just can’t ignore anymore.
Part of this has been the realization and acceptance that there can and should be a separation of woman and mother. That the more I care for myself and feed my mind, body and soul, the better at mothering I am.
To be clear, mothering feeds my everything in ways I never dreamed possible. Yet, in being truthful – it can also be suffocating, isolating and in many ways it can penetrate our self-identities. In all of its contradictory, miraculous, messy, soul-lifting/crushing/lifting/crushing/lifting ways.
It has come in waves, this awakening, much of it occurring over the long, cold months of winter, followed by an emergence into a new stage of parenting where there are no more little babies.
I have two little humans who feed on my every word, my every reaction, every moment of my time it seems. The more time I spend with them, the better behaved they are. The more ways in which I nurture their creativity, the more they blossom and learn and come into their own. All of which is confusing, right? Since I’m here talking about taking more time for myself. But you see, quality of time and amount of time, I’ve learned – are two very different things.
When we came back from our vacation, my heart was aching with how much I had missed them. Over the past five days that we’ve been back home together as a family, I’ve eagerly watched and listened, as a plethora of new words spill from my littlest one’s mouth that she had begun to utter in our absence. My son has new facial expressions and ways of communicating his thoughts and feelings and newly taught ways of self-soothing and calming himself during a meltdown. (Dude gets himself a glass of water and says he needs it to feel better! Oh, my heart – to have a boy so wise).
Since I’m being honest – I’m going to go ahead and admit that while the white sandy beaches, dining by candlelight with my long forgotten love, and heavenly amounts of sleep were all quite divine, nothing compared to coming home. We kept our computers closed (mostly) these past five days and reveled in our children – our family. We took in Family Day weekend every which way we could, without going over-the-top. I envision taking small steps towards such victory much more often. Good outcomes being the natural effect from doing nothing and yet everything with my children (and for myself), from now on. Focus. Stride. Stumble. Repeat.
Without even really trying (except for when I ended up in a toddler mosh pit at a kid’s concert), we took some time to engage in activities that nurture our children’s talents and interests. Simple, creative ways to show our kids just how much we love them. This is a little sampling of how we spent our Family Day Reunion Weekend. The future for doing much of the same family-friendly activities in our everyday lives looks very promising indeed.
Library Hang-Outs 1 of 9There's not much we can do outside (for very long anyways) given that it's been rocking between -20ËšC and -10ËšC since we've come home, which isn't a big deal since they LOVE going to the library. Little Abby choose four books about babies (shocking!) and one about puppies to take home.
Post-Bath Musical Dance Parties 2 of 9All toddlers love naked time - we know this. Add in some of their favourite music and instruments to play along with and it's a regular toddler dance-hall up in here.
Printing & Drawing 3 of 9Working on phonics, practicing lettering, and drawing shapes and patterns isn't much like work at all for our little guy. It's one of his favourite past-times, most especially so when one of is by his side to guide, coach, and cheer him on.
Local Family Day Event 4 of 9This was our big deal, extra special adventure for the weekend. One of their (and admittedly our) favorite kid's bands were playing a local show and they were in pure toddler bliss. It was sheer madness for the security (i.e. parents) and I'll have you all know that a toddler mosh-pit could put a Gwar concert to shame.
Nurturing Relationships 5 of 9We gently harangued one of our best friends who is also one of Abby's sponsors into meeting us at the concert to get in some much needed hangs. Investing in our children's relationships is so very important to us.
Focused One on One Time 6 of 9Potty-training and ukulele lessons: a winning combination.
Afternoon Cuddlefest 7 of 9It's a rare opportunity that I have, to take an afternoon off. To do nothing much more than read and cuddle with my little ones. It is one of the simple, small steps towards a happier us I've been talking about.
Napping Together… 8 of 9...and with her gang of babies. Taking a nap with my little ones is absolutely precious - a sweet time that happens far too infrequently.
Know Your Roots 9 of 9We may be back to reality this week, but so far it's not been a hard crash. Building family roots isn't easy, but I think it should be mostly joyful.
More Babbles From Selena…
- 20 Awesome DIY Toddler Beds!
- Michelle Obama’s Mad Dance Skills (with Jimmy Fallon)
- Hardcore Baby Doll Love (pictorial) + your chance to subit your own!
Elsewhere on the internets…
Via her humble beginnings, mastering in general mayhem: le petit rêve.