Milestones Of Motherhood ~ The Milestone of Nurturing Ourselves
As I began bringing together the contributions for Milestones and structured the first chapters exploring conception, pregnancy, labour and birth, the first days, weeks and months with our babies, the milestones women shared were all about how our lives were changing, what we were letting go of to make space for our babies, how we were growing, changing and learning, and the large, and at times immensely challenging, learning curves of growth, surrender and transformation which we were upon.
Such milestones continued as women spoke of their experiences of breastfeeding, and of finding their feet, and their evolving identities as women and mothers. Yet as the chapters progressed and women began to speak about becoming mothers to their second, third or fourth babies, and women shared experiences of parenting as their children grew, what they began to share was the recognition of the milestone of the need, indeed the necessity, of caring for ourselves as well as our children.
For in the beginning, the mothering path feels so much about us caring for our babies and children, and of course this is what we do, we learn to give, to give on every level, from all aspects of our being, and to give constantly to our babies. And for the most part, this is what we want to do. Women spoke of this simply by saying “it is hard work but I love it.” Yet as we all come to discover upon our own mothering journeys, for us to be able to continue to give to our children in the ways which we would like, we have to take our own needs into account and learn how we can also nurture, care for and love ourselves.
And this is a huge milestone of motherhood, and also a recurring one, for as much as we may realise it, and begin to care for ourselves, soon the constancy of the days and nights of caring for babies, children and teens begins to take over; we try to do yoga and the toddler is climbing on our back, we run the bath, only to find it filled with kids; the multiple needs of others and our many responsibilities fill our days, and once again, we loose sight of the importance of caring for ourselves. Once again we become embroiled in the multi-level nurturing, the multi-tasking and we take the focus outside ourselves and onto the needs of our children, work and families. And this is the way it often has to be, for our children are there, and their needs must be met.
Yet the milestone comes along again and again, whispering, at first, of the necessity to love, nurture and restore our own selves to enable us to be able to continue loving and nurturing our own children and families. A mum of five, a wise, intelligent and caring woman who has been parenting for over 23 years explained that in all honesty it took her the best part of 20 years to fully grasp this milestone and to find the time and ability to care for herself amidst her parenting. As parents, it is difficult to find the time to nurture ourselves amidst the needs of our family, especially if we do not have lots of hands-on local support. Yet we all find our own ways to this recurring milestone, both in our recognition of its importance, and in how we manage to weave this into our daily lives, and of course this changes over the years.
The next couple of Milestones blogs will focus further upon this important milestone and I would love to hear your experiences; we will explore what happens when we don’t manage to love, care for and nurture ourselves, and then share ways in which we are able to look after ourselves along, and amidst, the mothering path.