Wisdom From the Pup
My dog Ellie knows what she wants and has no issue letting you know about it. If she is sleeping and you walk anywhere near her (like within 20 feet) she’ll throw her leg open to expose her belly. She is boldly asking for a belly rub. And she feels no obligation to return the favor in any way. If you stop petting her, she will paw at you until you get annoyed and tell her to go away or start petting her again. But, she’s not satisfied with your hands just anywhere on her. Oh no, she will use her head or paw to direct your hand exactly where she wants the affection. Ellie is pushy and she doesn’t care what you think of her for asking. She wants what she wants.
Watching Ellie and her unrelenting demands got me thinking about knowing our own desires and asking for them. We humans are a little more socialized so as to not be as annoying as my dog. Which is probably a good thing. But, when does that socializing go too far? Where do we lose track of what we want and how to ask for it. When my kids were toddlers they had no trouble throwing themselves down on the pavement in protest of what they wanted, even if that was just a cheese stick that hadn’t broken in half *Sigh* I’m sure most of our mothers had a story like that. Kids are not shy about making their demands known. So when did we as women and particularly as mothers lose sight of what we want and how to ask for it?
My suspicion is that somewhere between that tantrum throwing toddler, learning the rules of society (be good, sit in your seat, don’t interrupt, keep quiet), to the bully in school who called you a dork for wearing neon socks that you wanted so badly, you started to learn that asking for what you wanted might not be safe. Taking this a little deeper, you may have needed love, affection, or parenting in a way that the adults in your life were incapable of giving or it wasn’t safe to receive. So, let’s take those lessons and add motherhood into the equation.
Our little guys are completely and utterly dependent upon us for their very survival in the beginning. We give up sleep, our bodies, and big chunks of our sanity when children arrive. The prevailing expectation in our culture is that moms put everyone else’s needs first. This is probably not a conscious decision for most people, but it is an undercurrent and has a huge impact on us. Our needs, our desires, our wants can get swept away in the tide of the family’s needs and even our own expectations of what motherhood looks like. For me, I thought a good mom always put the needs of her family above her own. What I didn’t understand was that trying to live up to this expectation can leave moms (ahem, me) feeling depleted, unhappy, and disconnected from what we actually want.
Mamas, I am here to tell you that self-care is not selfish. That you cannot continue to give from a dry well and if you don’t take the time and care for yourself, you won’t be able to care for anyone else because you will be burned out. Or at least really crabby while you are doing it.
When was the last time that you asked yourself what you want?
Are you acquiescing to everyone else’s desires to keep the peace?
How often do you dismiss what you want by thinking, “it’s fine” or “it’s no big deal”. What about what you want? No one is suggesting that you abandon your family’s needs all together. But, how would life improve if you were more of a factor in the equation of your family’s needs?
After years of putting everyone else first, how can you get a little more in touch with what you want? Start small. You don't have to jump into anything life altering right now (although little decisions can add up!). Ask yourself, what do I want to eat? Not what's leftover in the fridge, not what's convenient, what do I want. This is a great way to re-connect with your body. How about asking yourself, what do I want to do? Instead of just arranging play dates for the kids or running them to their events, ask yourself what do I want to do on this Saturday afternoon? When you get clear on your needs you can make decisions from a clean place. I am choosing to attend my son's end of the year soccer party because it is important to him. That is very different than grumbling to yourself under your breath and being resentful about sitting in the dark pizza parlor for yet another end of the year party. Or maybe you have been to your share of end of the year parties so this time your son is going with a friend because what you really want to do is go to a talk at the library or join some friends on a spa weekend or just spend some time working in your yard-because that is what you want to do.
It can be a little daunting to turn the tide on your own. Why not join me and a small group of women this Sunday for an exploration of how we want to feel as mothers and as women.
How Do You Want to Feel? A Vision Board Workshop for Moms will take place on Sunday May 15 from 3:00-5:00 pm in San Leandro, CA (East of San Francisco)
In this class we will explore how you want to experience motherhood, womanhood. We will be taking a deep look at the question, how do you want to feel:
There is no denying that there is real, feel it in your bones, joy in having children. But there are also a whole host of emotions that most moms don't want to talk about like guilt, shame, and comparison.
It doesn't have to be this way.
You get to decide what to buy into, what to believe
You can define motherhood on your terms.
You will walk away with:
1. Clarity about what really matters to you, so you can stop worrying about what other people think.
2. What to prioritize and what to drop kick, so you can stop wasting time on stuff that’s not adding to your life and free up time to do what matters to you and your family
3. A vision board that captures how you want to feel and can serve as a reminder when you get off course
Details and registration info can be found here: http://www.jennifersherwood.com/#!workshop/y7z93