As women, we are creatures who always put others first. For most of us, it’s in our nature. Some of us struggle harder to do that than others, but it’s okay; there is no shame in not being a natural born nurturer. But rather than the latter, I would say that I am more of the former, and especially when it comes to my children. My children are everything to me, and have been since their first little steps sounded on the floor – well, even before that. They had me at the first sound of their heartbeat. And since then, they all three have had me -- hook, line, and sinker. Now I have three more in the form of mini-me’s and they too have stolen my heart. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for my children or grandchildren, including giving my life for them. It has never been hard for me to do things for my children, put them before myself even at my own peril, and I am still that way today. We don’t always agree on everything (my grown kids and me), but there is nothing they could ever do to stop me from loving them. Nothing.
A mother’s love is the strongest kind of love.
We women shed that powerful thing called love on others as well…our soulmates, our other family members, our close friends, even our pets. Love is a choice and we always choose love over indifference, and especially when it comes to our kids. Love is a word that also stirs many sacred emotions. We are nurturers in the biggest and best form of the word. We have the capacity to love the ugly, the frustrating, the mean and the rebellious if it’s our children. After all, motherhood is a lifelong calling and our kids are depending on us to mold them, care for them, make them responsible human beings, and then push them out of the nest when the time comes. Some of us truly struggle when our little birds fly the coop because there are no longer young ones who need us every single day. My kids assure me that they still need me. Now it might be in the form of conversation, emotional support, or just helping with the grandkids, but to feel needed is something that gives most human beings purpose on this earth. We all need to feel needed and we all need to feel loved. But it gives me a great peace to know that one day when I'm gone they will be just fine on their own.
Which brings me to another kind of love. The love of self.
Now, I’m not talking about pride or overindulgence or selfishness. I’m talking about loving yourself enough to do for yourself what you need, as much as you would for another, and maybe even regardless of how it affects others. I’m not suggesting that we ignore those who need us, abuse others for our lack of care, or even put others at risk because of our own needs. What I am suggesting is that no matter how much we love our children, our husbands, our friends and family members, sometimes we must think of ourselves first. This might be a momentary thing; it might be a day; it might be a long weekend. But if there is anything I have learned in my years on this earth it is that I have to take care of myself. If I don’t have ‘self-care,’ there is no way I can care for others well. And certainly no one else will do it for you. You know it’s true, my friend.
RV living has taken a toll on my emotional health. Yes, it’s supposed to be a calming affair, camping in the woods, going back to nature, taking time to stop and smell the roses. But sometimes we don’t even realize things about ourselves until those things are challenged. After a month of living in an RV, I have come to be reminded that I am a creature of space and quietness and, when this RV experience is over, I don’t think I WILL EVERY FORGET IT AGAIN. I have to have stretches of quietness and stillness in my day to be healthy. I need to spread out and feel little at times, and even though you can do that in the great outdoors, I like my space served up best with air conditioning. It might only be an hour, and some days that’s all I need. It might be a whole day or two to catch up on my work, my reading, my self-nurturing. I've had a difficult time in an RV coordinating my needs with living in close quarters with another human being and being one half of a couple who work from home. What in heaven’s name were we thinking when we agreed to live in an RV for six months?
So this weekend I did what any level-headed woman would do. I got myself a hotel room. For the last three days I’ve been holed up in a room bigger than my entire RV. It’s equipped with wifi, cable on the telly, a large shower with a head that’ll massage your shoulders, and sturdy, real floors that don’t rock when you walk. I’ve eaten all my favorite foods, (chocolate and Moscato included), gone to the movies, shopped, enjoyed a couple of HGTV marathons, done lots of reading, and I’ve done it all by myself. I did it just for me. And I did it whether anyone else understood it or not. It’s been a three-day sabbatical of self-care. My two daughters and my daughter-in-law are all strong women who realize caring for themselves is the key to unlocking the energy and endurance it takes to care for others. They unashamedly take care of themselves and don’t feel any guilt in doing it. They have coffee time; yoga time; running time; reading time; mani/pedi time; girlfriend time. It’s because they know everyone tends to benefit if they love themselves as well. As Mother’s Day 2016 approaches, may I suggest that you learn to love and nurture yourself? Even if you are not a mother, truth be told you’re a nurturer to someone because I’ve never met a woman who was not. Be willing to do for yourself what you do for others. Take the time you need. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. Spend the money needed if at all possible for the care of you. Because you so deserve it.
The hubs has moved the RV to a more secluded spot in the big woods in the hope that more quietness and serenity will come our way (have I mentioned there was construction going on next to us before and that our campsite was a small rendition of Grand Central Station?). I am thankful for a husband who recognizes his wife’s need for self-care and is attentive to making our environment the best it can be for both of us. Our RV days are long from being over yet and we have many more experiences and lessons to be learned. One day I think we will look back on this time with fond memories and maybe a few regrets, but for sure with a lot of laughter. I mean, two big ol’ adults living in a playhouse, what’s not hilarious about that?!!
So as my sabbatical comes to a close, I am grateful. Grateful for a time to refresh, rest, and renew. Grateful for a time to think, ponder, medicate – uh, I mean meditate and reflect on what is important to me, what I need in my life and what is necessary to fuel this woman to great things. I can even say I’m missing the hubs a bit. Romantic love is also a powerful force of nature, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Time to go home to my little house in the woods.
Posted by CC
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