5 Ways to Mother Yourself
While my mom died in June, 2012, I still miss her deeply every day. There are often daily reminders that she is no longer on this plane. When something exciting happens in our family and I want to jump on the phone and tell her all about it. When the holidays are coming up and I want to get with her for our annual holiday planning. When I miss her voice. When I’m in a transition. When I’m sick.
Recently, I have this feeling of not just missing my mom, but needing my mom. You see, I haven’t felt well for a few months and have since learned that I have adrenal fatigue and digestive dysbiosis – a combination of symptoms that generally feels like the flu – everyday. Where you just want to stay in bed and have someone bring you chicken soup until you’re better.
When my mom was still alive and I was sick, even as an adult, she was always there to mother me. She would offer advice on what to take. She would console me. If I couldn’t take care of my children, she would come down and cook and help with the children and do the laundry. She would cook my favorite recipes and bring them down. If she couldn’t come down, she would call each day until I had turned the corner, just checking-in to see how I was feeling.
A few weeks ago, I realized there was a little girl part of me that just wanted to be mothered through this phase of my life.
The powerful remembrance of what it feels like to be mothered began welling up inside of me as I asked myself “how might I mother myself through this new passage”? So I took a page from a Women Connected course that I designed about a year ago (The 12 Faces of the Good Mother), and sank into those teachings.
Here are 5 ways that we can mother ourselves that resonated with me:
- Be your own first-responder. This includes letting the significant others in your life know when you need help. Taking a nap when you need to lay down. Calling the doctor to make an appointment even though you don’t feel like it. Taking a sick day from work rather than pushing through. Our moms as first responders often intuited and initiated the support we needed. When mothering ourselves, we need to ask ourselves what we need, and then arrange for that help.
- Be your own cheerleader. My mom had this thing she would say to me whenever I felt down – “you always land on your feet”. When things went wrong, she didn’t beat me up or blame me, she just said those words and I would feel my nervous system settle down. I knew when she said those words it was because she believed in me. In mothering ourselves, we can believe in ourselves. Rally around yourself with hope and optimism. I have found it helpful to encourage myself by using honest, but positive self-talk. I don’t feel well “yet”. I don’t have the energy “yet”, but I can see improvements. Today was a good day! I’m creating new habits that will serve me and my family well for years to come. I am loved.
- Nurture yourself. As adult women with so many balls to juggle, nurturing can feel indulgent – like we’re taking time and energy away from something more important than ourselves. It has taken this journey with my health to finally get it into my head, “I count too”. “My health is important too”. Nurturing ourselves can include naps when they’re needed. Taking time to just read, going to bed early, meditating, eating whole foods, or to just be. Giving yourself permission to not work so darn hard all the time – to pull it back a bit – to be less perfect. While my body is healing, I have needed to give it space to do what it needs to do. I am nurturing my pace.
- Mentor yourself. Reminding ourselves that we have the skills. You’ve been mothering your own children and taking care of yourself for a long time. You know what needs to happen – do for yourself, what you would do for those you love. I’ve needed to stop wishing things were a different way and support my skillful, fully equipped, compassionate self to be attuned to my needs, to break down complex tasks into manageable steps, and to give myself the time and patience the situation requires. Do you remember what it was like to not feel good when you were little? What did your mom do that just felt soothing and attentive? Do those things that bring you joy whether it’s a craft, a podcast, playing with your children, or reading your favorite magazine. Mentoring ourselves includes finding ways to bring joyful activities into our lives.
- Lean into the Divine Mother. I grew up in a fundamentalist religion where God was masculine and we didn’t have female dieties. As I have explored my own spirituality these past ten years, I have come to experience the Feminine Face of God – the Divine Feminine, the Goddess, the powerful Feminine Archetypes that I wasn’t exposed to in the earlier parts of my life. Learning to lean into Her during times when I need mother has been a great comfort. She says, “I have many names and faces. Beyond those names and faces, I am your loving Mother always. I come to you in light and darkness, through joy, and even, my beloved, through loss and tragedy. I am always your loving Mother. I am seeking you. If you can know this, then great and spiritual power shall be yours and you will help me bring love to this world. Remember me. I am your loving Mother always.”
What are those moments when you need mothering? What self-mothering tips would you add to the list?
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