Learn To Help Yourself

Take Care of YourselfLast week, I did something out of character for myself – I gave up.  I had a to-do list that was miles long and a pile of papers for my kids, my family, and my goals.  I felt in over my head.

As parents, we spend so much time taking care of our children and our families that we often become the background noise in our own lives.  We spend each day ticking off items on a list – appointments for the kids, a project for friends, maintaining our homes, work obligations….  At the end of those long tired days it is very easy to just snip off the end of list that we’ve put ourselves on and forget those tasks.  But the easy way, isn’t always the best way.

As I stared down the barrel of what looked like sleepless nights and a plate fuller than what I thought I could handle, I started taking off the parts that were for me.   When your days are already filled, it’s hard to imagine adding anything else even if it’s something you want and believe in.  I thought taking away those parts would make me feel relieved and at peace, but instead it left me feeling empty.  Yes, my days would be clear to fully devote myself to my children and my family, but there would be little room for myself.

Room for self – that’s an important part of being a parent that many people forget.  It’s easy to do.  From the time you become pregnant people’s reaction to you changes.  It goes from, “Good morning, how are you,” to , “How’s the baby, have you picked a name yet?”  For nine solid months your life will revolve around your growing baby and that growing belly.  When the baby enters the world, your own focus is fully centered on feeding, diapering, bathing, and loving this new being.  You will think of your child almost every single second of every single day.  Their care will, at first, leave little time for your own.  You may feel guilt when you leave them for the first time even and if you aren’t careful, you may very well lose yourself entirely.

The role of mother does not have to be the only one you take.  It does not have to replace your role as wife, friend, daughter, co-worker, even business owner.  While it can permeate each of your other roles, molding and shaping who and what you are, that isn’t a bad thing!  Motherhood can teach you patience, compassion, and perseverance.  It can show you just how strong you always were and how much you can accomplish when you are dedicated.  It can teach you to be humble and you will learn to multi-task with far greater ease than you ever have before.

Last week I gave up.  At least temporarily.  I threw in the proverbial towel and I resigned myself to give up the roles I wanted for myself.  Lucky for me, I’m not alone.  I have friends, family, prayers, and a power greater than myself.  Thanks to a combination of all these, I was guided back on track.  I realized that deciding to give up on the parts of myself that were just for me might make completing all my daily duties easier, but it wouldn’t be living in its truest sense.  When we exist without passion or goals, we aren’t truly living and I want to do more than exist – I want to truly live.

There’s a popular saying that God only helps those who learn to help themselves.  In one sense, I very much believe this.  I believe that God helps those in need, but I also believe we have to play an active role in bettering ourselves and our lives.  When you’re given an opportunity – take it.  When you’re given a chance to try something you’ve always wanted, you owe it to yourself to do it.  To be the best parent you can be, you must also take care of yourself and learn to let go of guilt when you do.  An evening away or a decision to take on roles in addition to that as a parent are good for you and your children.

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When The Heart Speaks…Listen

Let the heart speak...I’ve always described myself as a romantic…  Driven by emotion, an eccentric, whimsical human-being.  Those are the qualities I’m enamored by, but they aren’t always the most accurate descriptors for who I am.  Perhaps better suited for the girl I long to be.

I second guess myself often.  I worry over details that no one else will notice.  I remember snippets of conversations that I found vitally important, yet quickly forgotten by my fellow converser.  What I easily forget is the moments and decisions that left me truly happy were often made on a whim.  They were not meticulously thought out or planned.  They were leaps of faith on what my heart deemed perfection and necessary for happiness.

I fell in love with my husband without giving my heart consent to do so.  I fought it hard, the circumstances were not ideal.  And yet, here we are.  Nearly nine years later and I do believe I love that man more and more each day.  I love the way my body falls into his open arms and his warmth and embrace melts away my troubles every day.  I have memorized the curls in his hair, the crinkle at the corner of his eyes when he smiles and how he knows to whisper into just the right spot on my neck to send shivers down my spine.  He knows when I need to laugh or cry.  The beginning of our romance was a leap of faith that all would work out and fall into place.  Few believed it would, but we listened to what our hearts whispered and we were rewarded richly.

I took a leap of faith to leave behind a career and stay home with my oldest son.  Filled with doubt, fighting tears through each step of the decision.  Coming up on four years, another son added to the mix, I’m still home soaking up their childhoods.  Our second son was planned as our first, but only whimsically and without the heartbreak and trials of infertility.  He added more light and laughter to our lives.  We’re still making it.  Though it hasn’t been the easiest four years, each time I pray for guidance and will my heart to show me what to do next, I discover answers and reassurance.  Guided by my heart, muting my doubts and casting aside my worry.  I am where I was always meant to be.

I’ve fought my heart over the next step in our lives.  Thinking of how hard this move or that move would make things.  My heart screams at me to stop fighting, to stop turning my life into a battle of wills.  It leaves my being in chaos and makes me feel uneasy.  It keeps placing reminders of how following my heart has brought me the best pieces of my life.

So once again, I will my mind to be quiet and still so that my heart may speak.  I ask for guidance, and the courage to follow where I am being lead.  There are few coincidences in this life.  When the world (and your heart) are trying to tell you something, be still and listen.  Go where your intuition leads….