One weekend in my twenties I returned home to visit my family. My mother was planning to stop by a family friend’s house that had just given birth. My mom asked for my advice for the baby’s gift. I suggested we take something for the mother instead of the baby. Everyone always takes something for the baby, but we can’t forget about the mother.
In my thirties I became a mother. I naturally put the needs of my baby first. Everything was done for the health, development and happiness of my baby. In the day-to-day responsibilities my focus shifted, but so much so that I forgot about the needs of my baby’s mother.
Now in my forties I am starting to realize that my twenty-something self (naive in the ways of the world and motherhood) was on to something. Just because our focus has shifted from ourselves to the well-being of our children, we can’t forget about the needs of the mother.
And more importantly, we can’t forget about the woman behind the mother. We can’t forget about her passions, interests, goals and dreams. A mother is far more than someone who can cure a boo-boo with a kiss, mend a heart with a hug or nourish growing bodies and minds. She can change the lives of one or the lives of millions. She has a limitless potential and creativity that deserves to be pursued.
Being a single mother I never gave myself permission to be me and not just a mother. I felt guilty for our current situation. I thought I needed to somehow “make it up” to my daughter by devoting myself to her every need, even the ones she didn’t know she had. I thought that by giving all of myself and then some, I was being the perfect mother. I let go of the woman behind the mother.
What I didn’t understand at the time is that I was robbing my daughter of the experience of learning and growing from not only her mother, but from the adventurous, light-hearted, passionate woman behind her mother. I had lost the connection to myself, to who I truly was. I can be a mother and be the woman behind the mother; a woman who is passionate about traveling the world and exploring new cultures, a woman who is a voracious reader, a woman who enjoys swimming, surfing, hiking and climbing, a woman who wants to continue to learn and grow, expand and develop, a woman who wants to make a difference in this world, to make it a better place…for her daughter.
I started using meditation and sound to cultivate an inner awareness, reconnecting to the woman behind the mother. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy as I had hoped. Thoughts of self-doubt and judgments from society lingered in my mind. I refocused and rebuilt my thoughts and emotions integrating additional tools like affirmations and breathing techniques into my meditations. This created an inner calm which brought to light a greater awareness of the woman I was or the woman I now wanted to be. I continued to waiver time and again, but I kept coming back to the person who wanted to be a happy mother and a fulfilled woman.
I slowly started pursuing old as well as new hobbies and interests, took my daughter on trips to countries I hadn’t visited, and started a company rooted in meditation, sound and ancient healing techniques. My either/or approach left out what it really means to be a mother. A mother helps children explore the world around them, appreciates her children’s uniqueness and value, and fosters a love of music, reading, science, art and sports. How can a mother help to build these aspects in her child if she neglects them in herself? Children learn through observing, feeling and mirroring what we show them. As a mother I want my daughter to know that she can be anything she can imagine and a mother!
I no longer forget about the needs of my daughter’s mother or the woman behind her mother and I am a better mother for it.