I always knew I wanted to have kids. My maternal instinct was strong from the time I was a small child. As a teen, I took in stray people the way some kids might stray animals. However, when the time actually approached, the idea kind of freaked me the f**k out! This is because I didn't see my self as a responsible adult. This may have been part of why it took me over a year to conceive and he wouldn't come out for 10 days after his due date.
Finding myself a single parent of a colicky child further exacerbated my mommy guilt. Being highly sensitive and reactive to his moods, my own moods would fluctuate almost as wildly as his. Only, when he got over it and "moved on," my grumpiness would stick with me much longer. Being a spirited women raising a spirited child has its ups and downs. But wasn't I the responsible adult here?
Add to that the stack of "shoulds" that I wasn't doing. I should be a better house cleaner, I should manage my money better, I should be a better cook, I should take better care of myself so I can be a better mom.
Then I read this blog post about Why You Should Stop Doing Things You Don't Like To Do and her comment "I recommend you truly examine what you LOVE to do and NEED to do and focus on those rather than on what you only “want” to do or “should” do. Wants and shoulds crowd out the loves and needs," and it hit me that that was exactly what I was doing.
I owned my own house, was raising an amazing human being who was never sent to the ER on my watch, had a meaningful job that I was good at and paid the bills and maintained an active social life supporting and being supported by my friends. When I stopped to think about what I was doing instead of what I wasn't, I realized that I was doing a whole lot.
Since then, I have come a long way in the cooking and self-care department. This is because I shifted my thinking about what I should do to what makes me feel nourished. A few years ago I lived off of easy frozen meals because as a single parent, "I didn't have the time to cook." Now I make almost all our meals from scratch because I love the way it makes me feel. I seek to improve my self care not because I should, but because it nourishes me and by nourishing myself I can not only be a better mom and friend, but I also set a good example to encourage others to do the same.
I will probably always hire someone to clean my house as long as I can afford it because I'd rather be spending time playing with my son. I enjoy the effect of a clean house, but I do not particularly relish the process. I do not particularly enjoy mundane tasks. If it's something I need to do to meet our needs, I will certainly do it. But if I can delegate it to someone else, that leaves me open to do the things I'm good at. I considered letting my housecleaner go when I went part time until I generate some new income, but I realized that the time I'd be spending cleaning or distracted by mess would negatively impact my ability to do the work that I feel called to do.
If you keep focusing on what you should do instead of what you need or love to do, you will have less time to share your gifts with the world!
So I ask you two questions: What is it that nourishes you? Do more of that! What do you think you should do that could either be dropped or delegated?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Photos courtesy of Guy Holtzman Photography