Tuesday, October 28, 2014
the I in family
To this day, the only person in that circle that stands out in my memory is a softly spoken woman in her forties whose vulnerability and nervousness was obvious and the feeling behind her words incomprehensible to me, "I'm here because I've spent the last twenty years of my life raising my children and I haven't really had many interests outside of that so I thought I would try this out."
How could this happen?! My pre-baby self thought. How could any woman's sense of self disappear just because she became a mother and wife?! This woman seemed so lovely and at the same time seemed so, well, lost.
In that moment I vowed to myself that when I had children I would never let that happen to me. I would maintain my sense of self and continue to grow outside of being a wife and mother.
About six weeks into the shiatsu course I found out I was pregnant with River. I was beyond thrilled.
I finished the course but never did return to further my study in shiatsu, and now sitting here just turned forty and eight years into motherhood I have to say I have a whole new understanding of the mother in that circle.
As any mother reading this will know it is VERY easy to become lost in family life. And it is especially easy if like me, you have always been very maternal so have always adored being with children, but also if you are a people pleaser who doesn't like to rock the boat (unless it really needs rocking) and who thinks taking time out or asking for help is selfish and a sign of weakness. That was hard to write.
Without getting too psychoanalytical, I know that these tendencies are rooted deeply in my being and I am only at the beginning of being aware of them and changing my ways. Why change? Because they are no longer serving me. Up until now I have been genuinely happy being so devoted to my family in a way that even some of my closest friends marvel at and don't understand.
However if I'm honest, somewhere along the line I confused being a loving mother and wife with being available on tap to my family and giving, sometimes even when there was very little left to give.
With my youngest turning 5 next month and starting school next year we are entering a new season of family life and a bit like the woman in the shiatsu class I am at a new place of finding myself.
I feel relieved that I 'woke up' before I was completely lost and perhaps filled with regret or worse resentment. I can actively attend to what needs to change within me and continue to give of myself from a full cup rather than running on empty.
Watch this space.
Do you sometimes feel lost in your role as wife and/or mother? What are your tips for self-preservation and self-love? Your words might just help a mum who really needs it.