Dear Younger Self,
You are in the midst of an incredibly important intersection of your life. You feel as if the choices you make now will determine the trajectory of the rest of your life and influence the trajectory of the lives of your children. Some of them will. Many of them won’t. The problem is, you don’t always know which choices matter.
You have been awarded the most important vocation there is: motherhood. Your children are precious gifts that have been placed in your care. Their well-being depends upon your self-understanding. Who are you? What are your needs? How do you fill your proverbial cup? How do you take care of yourself when things fall apart? Because things WILL fall apart – frequently – that is the nature of this beautiful, messy life.
As a nurturer, a caretaker, a mother, you might be thinking “Wait? What? Me? My needs are unimportant. My needs pale in comparison to the needs of my children. My job is to care for them, not selfishly focus on myself.”
And guess what? You’re right. Your children do need you to help them, to be there for them, to love them, to nurture them.
Here’s the catch, dear one: you will not be able to do that well if you are not paying attention to yourself, if your cup is empty, if you are depleted. If your own needs are not met, you will become tired, resentful, and burnt out. You will no longer have the capacity to be the loving, compassionate nurturer that you are now. That beautiful soul will gradually wither away and die. You will wake up one day and realize you are an empty shell, that your true essence has slipped away, that your spirit is gone.
I am here to warn you that there is a fine line between caring for others and neglecting yourself.
It’s likely that no one prepared you for what a delicate balancing act motherhood would be. You are at risk of losing yourself, of drowning the essence of who you are as you lovingly give yourself to others. I don’t want you to drown. Your gifts are so needed in this world. I want you to be the best you possible so that your unique gifts can be opened and enjoyed, not sunk beneath an endless sea of caring where no one can access them.
So, dear one, I urge you to listen to your inner wisdom, to start directing some of that abundant love and caring inwards. Recognize that you need to nurture yourself in order to be the most healthy version of you. Your children deserve that. The world needs that. You would be doing your children a major disservice by allowing your loving spirit to die.
PS: I wrote this letter to myself, but I know that all too many younger women are in the same situation…
PPS: If I had received this letter when I was in your position my belly would have been churning with the funny mix of hope and fear that I never really understood until I became a momma. And I would have been worrying, “well, now what???”
Give yourself a few minutes to take the Caring For You Assessment. It will give you a snapshot of all the ways you are and are not taking care of yourself. Once you have clarity on how much you really need to start giving to yourself, you can begin this compassionate journey of nurturing the real you.