About a year ago now, I decided it was time to stop allowing my children to be an excuse to neglect myself, especially my health.
This was not only for me, but for them. I didn’t want them to sense the resentment I was holding towards motherhood and how I felt it had robbed so much of my identity. I didn’t want them to feel responsible for my unhappiness, not even subconsciously.
I began to understand how crucial it was to show them that I had needs, too…and that I honoured them. I realised how crucial it was to model to them a healthy view of a woman and mother who had hobbies, and passions, and a career that made her heart and soul sing. I wanted them to know that as a family, we ALL mattered. I had to care for my own physical and mental well-being, because I knew they were all watching and learning from me.
So, we began to walk/ride together most afternoons, around the block. It was about 2.5km, and took us about 30-45 minutes to complete.
Sometimes, my 4 year old got tired. Occasionally, my 6 year old did, too.
I came up with a strategy. I simply invited them to hold my hand, so I could share my energy with them. It seemed so simple, and a little silly, like a placebo, but it WORKED. They would have renewed energy, their pace would quicken and they would happily (well, mostly) continue along. It stuck, and since then we are often “sharing energy.”
Today, I was reminded of how important it is to give AND receive.
We were walking, again. We’ve done so much walking on this trip. Miss 5 was struggling a little up the hill, so she asked to hold my hand so she could share my energy. Her little hand bundled into mine, and I said to her, “I’m a bit tired, you’ll have to share your energy with me, too.”
I never want to forget what she said next. She said to me, “I already am sharing my energy with you, mummy. If we do it for each other, we will have even more.”
This was a profound moment for me. I have always felt like I have given, and given, and given. I have felt like everyone wants to TAKE from me. TAKE my time, TAKE my energy, TAKE my body, TAKE my affection, TAKE my love. And I had to give it, because they needed me to. Even when it felt like I had nothing left to give.
The problem was, I never allowed myself to receive. I didn’t feel worthy of receiving. I didn’t know how to.
This meant that my cup was often empty, and there’s the common (and true) saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
When you feel like you have no choice to keep giving, though, resentment can grow. Resentment towards the people you love more than anyone in the world.
In recent times, I’ve started to realise that when you are open to giving AND receiving, that resentment disappears, and in its place comes JOY.
The more you give, the more you receive…if you allow yourself to.
Your cup begins to overflow, and you feel JOY in giving, and GRATITUDE in receiving.
You realise, as I did today through the profound words of my daughter, that we can be more than the sum of our parts when we are in it together.