By Dedra Keoshian. leader of API of Stark County, Ohio
The other day, I was in the midst of scrambling around the kitchen, preparing everyone’s breakfast according to their unique requests. James, 4, wanted pancakes. Neil, 17 months, was pointing to the bananas. I was making a fried egg sandwich on Ezekiel Muffins for myself and urging James to get dressed while I made the meals. My husband, Ed, had left for work hours ago. I had yet to drink in any fuel, a.k.a. coffee, and was feeling the lava mount in my stomach.
By the time James had eaten his pancakes and Neil had scarfed his banana, my sandwich was finally being assembled. Then came the screams for “More! More!” and “You forgot my water!” Now, I will unashamedly admit that I am a grumpy monster in the morning, and I was about to lose it. But something in me said, “Take some breaths, you are the adult here.”
As the oxygen flowed to my brain, I turned to James and said, “How many mom-moms are here?” He said, “One.” And I said, “How many people are in this room and need to be taken care of right now?” He said, “Two.” I replied, “No, there are three people in this room. There is you, Baby Neil, and me. Someone has to take care of me, too. So, I have to take care of all three of us. You have gotten to eat breakfast and Neil has gotten to eat, but I have had nothing. Mom-moms need food, too.”
As parents, we sacrifice everything for our children. As spouses, we must sacrifice for our marriages. We nurture these relationships and tend carefully to them, as constant gardeners. But, as women, we often forget to nurture ourselves. We, too, need mothers. We must learn to mother ourselves, meaning that we must treat ourselves as persons who have needs that must be met in order to be physically and emotionally healthy.
This is the best gift that we can give our children. They need to see that even mom-moms are persons of value, with unique needs, concerns, and qualities. Everyone is important equally. By showing children how we care for ourselves, they will learn to care for themselves. They will grow to be mothers who nurture themselves so that they can nurture their children and partners. They will grow to be fathers who love themselves, their children, and who support their partners.
I think that, too often, we look to others to step in if they see we need something. We are slow to ask. But just as we are advocates for our children, we should be advocates for ourselves. Taking just a small amount of time each day to clear our minds, evaluate our hearts, or just veg out can nourish us to continue to give daily, hourly. This will look different for each mother. Look honestly at what your needs are and set a plan for meeting those needs. Maybe it’s half an hour in the bath, uninterrupted; perhaps an hour at a coffee shop with a friend or a good book. Whatever is right for you, demand it. You deserve it; your children deserve it!
As mothers, we sacrifice everything for our children. As wives, we must sacrifice for our marriages. We nurture these relationships and tend carefully to them, as constant gardeners. But, as women, we often forget to nurture ourselves.