I am on a plane returning home from my first trip away from Mila and I am so excited to hug her and be close to her and Ryan again. I cannot wait (!!!) I have also realized on this trip how much I have been disconnected from myself over the past couple years. Mila is 2 years old and she and Ryan have been my world since I was pregnant. They have been my priority completely - their health, happiness, our togetherness. I loved and gave them so much that I don't even know when I started to neglect myself.
I have been aware over the past year or so that it has been hard for me to stay connected to my heart and body and my power as I have been focused so much on giving. If I had not gone on this trip, I would not have noticed just how much I have distanced myself from who I am beyond the roles of mother and partner.
I love my family and I love giving myself to them too. Having a family is my favorite part of my life. I do not want to give to them from a place where I am depleted and lacking nourishment. I want to give from a place where I am full of vibrant energy, nurtured, grounded, healthy, and connected to my heart and body.
It is my responsibility to create this space for myself. I can be better at asking for what I need, asking for help, prioritizing self-care.
I say "yes" to myself - to love, nurture and care for myself as much as I love, nurture and care for my family.
It is difficult with a small child. But, everything is possible. I will create space to explore all the parts of myself and depend on no one else to.
After all, what am I going to teach Mila? That I had a baby and let go of all my other dreams? Forgot who I am beyond the role of mother, partner, daughter, sister?
No. I teach her that I had a baby that I love and adore with all my heart and I still lived my life true to myself -true to all the parts of me - a me beyond the roles of mother and partner, a me that I make time to continue to explore and get to know while I embrace my family and give to them whole-heartedly. It is not easy at all to make this space. But, I love myself enough to do everything I can to make it happen.
As much as I love my family, I will not lose myself for them. I will take time to care for myself, connect with myself, make space to get to know, embrace, express and create all the parts of myself.
I am not willing to lose myself in my relationships with anyone but to give myself from a place where I am deeply rooted and connected with my heart and body.
I recognize that men/fathers must also take time to nourish themselves as they give so much too. I don't know about others, but, I know for me, it has been harder for me than Ryan to allow myself time for myself. When Ryan has free time, he exercises, plays sports, does yoga, goes rock-climbing, all the things that nurture him. When I have free time, I often cook a meal or plan something for the family to do together. This is okay, because sometimes a part of me truly wants to do these things. And, I am beginning to see that a part of me is also conditioned to do these things.
Recognizing the conditioning, I am okay with it and I also want to move beyond it. If at the depths of my heart, I would rather go for a run or a swim or a yoga class than cook dinner, then I want to have the awareness and love for myself to do that.
I write this with compassion for all mothers, fathers, children. I don't know if finding the perfect balance is possible. Time with family together, time with Ryan, time with myself. It is all important and it is all difficult to make happen. Though the perfect balance may or may not come, what I do have control over is my compassion for myself and my family, my ability to listen without judgement to Ryan's needs, Mila's needs, my own needs, to do my best at loving them while also loving myself.
The Buddha taught equanimity; to love all beings with equal intensity. May we remember to love ourselves. We are one of the beings the Buddha was talking about ;)
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