My second daughter, Flannery, is going on two and she’s full of spritely giggles and curiosity of all things she sees, hears, smells, and feels. We hear a lot of “What is that?” and a delighted, “Oh!” every time we answer her questions. This is such a sweet phase in her development.
My little sprite has been sick the past few days and has this cough that is preventing her from sleeping well. You know what that means. My husband and I haven’t been getting much sleep either. I’ve been told we’ll get to sleep again once our girls are in college. Anyway, I spent yesterday afternoon with her resting on my chest as we swayed back and forth quietly in our rocking chair. In that moment, I felt I was spending my time exactly as I wanted to be, nurturing my girl when she needed extra comfort and care.
When my girls get sick, I feel clear about my motherly duties. I slow our lives down, we stay home, and I provide them with the quiet space and time they need to recover. However, the daily grind of being a Mom isn’t so simple, is it? I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a mother. What does it mean to you? Does it mean complete selflessness? Unconditional love? Total surrender to the needs and desires of your children? I know that when my first daughter, Laila, was born in 2007, something else was born in me; I became a MOTHER. Instantaneously. But truly defining who I am as a mother is a slow unfolding process.
For me, the immediate transformation from “Laura, grad student, wife, human with passions, dreams and goals” into “Mama” was at once filled with a beautiful, deep love, and a shocking, world-rocking awareness that I was smack in the middle of the vast unknown. In the days after her birth, I remember thinking things like: “I am filled with complete and total love for this new being. I will do anything and everything for her. She is my life. My everything. This is scary. And who am I again? What is my purpose on this earth? How am I going to do it all?”
Becoming a parent is the truest expression of “diving in” or “taking the plunge” into unknown territory and a lifetime of responsibility. This new world is unconditional love realized and can be somewhat terrifying and isolating, too. I don’t bring up the conflicting feelings, emotions, and experiences of becoming a mother as a gloomy forecast for the lifetime of parenting ahead. No, I express the complex layers of becoming a mother with a dream and a hope for every Mama out there.
I have a vision of the 21st century Mother. She is strong and graceful. She has a bold, empowered voice and she knows how to use it with love and courage. She loves her children unconditionally and nourishes their bodies, hearts, and minds. She shows them what a balanced, fulfilled, and healthy woman looks like. She takes the time she needs to nourish her body, heart, and mind, to have fun, and to cultivate her passions in life. She knows that taking this time for self-care and personal development is an act of love not only for herself, but also for her children. Her family life flows with a rhythm and balance that honors the needs of both the children and adults in her household. Whether this Mama works inside or outside the home, she is true to herself and her family. She is happy and she is at peace with her choices in life. This is my vision of a nourished Mama and her family. What is yours?
Photography by Olivia Gatti
Now, becoming a mother is one thing. Becoming a mother who balances self-care and family-care is another thing. I know that I struggled with this pretty deeply after the birth of my first precious child. Self-care went out the window, even though somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I knew it was a bad idea. I wish that I had spent some time during my first pregnancy building a concrete plan, or roadmap of sorts, for how I was going to cultivate self-care in the early days of motherhood. I spent months reading, thinking, and planning for how I was going to care for my baby but forgot to make a plan for how I was going to have the support, space, and time to nourish my body, heart, and mind. I think this is a mistake a lot of first-time Mamas make. Do you agree?
I have good news, though! I did it differently the second time around. I read, thought, and planned for how I was going to balance self-care, infant-care, and all around family-care during my second pregnancy. I can’t say I execute all of my plans to perfection but I have come up with a lot of amazing tools that I want to share with you. Speaking of passion in life, becoming a mother was integral to me discovering my passion to work as a holistic health coach with women and their families. I want to share my wellness strategies with every Mama on the planet. Are you on board? In the early days of motherhood, I will help you cultivate the following:
- *A nourishing home environment and family rhythm;
- *Holistic postpartum health through whole foods nutrition and healthy movement;
- *Balanced self-care and baby care;
- *Helpful support from partners, family, and friends;
- *Mindfulness practices to prevent and/or manage postpartum blues;
- *Loving and constructive communication with your partner postpartum and beyond… And much more!
Are you pregnant now and dreaming about what life will be like once your baby is here?
Photo by Jessica Rinaldi
Dream big because this is one of the greatest adventures of your life. And please spend some time dreaming about how you will care for you, too. I want to leave you with this one simple strategy for your daily life after baby is born. I encourage you to have an affirmation (or more!) for the early days of motherhood. Affirmations are simple, present tense, and action-oriented statements that help encourage you to live your life in alignment with your needs and desires. An affirmation for the early days of motherhood is quite simple and here are a few ideas for you:
I nourish my baby and my Self today.
I give me and my baby plenty of quiet time to bond and rest.
I am at peace with my changing body.
I eat healthy whole foods that nourish me.
I surround myself with loving family and friends who support me and respect my needs.
I ask for help when I need it and accept help when it is offered.
I accept the unknowns of motherhood with humor and a light heart.
I allow emotions and fears to wash over me with loving acceptance.
I forgive myself for the inevitable honest mistakes that come with motherhood.
I have compassion for my baby’s moods as well as my own.
I share my mixed feelings and fears about motherhood with my partner or trusted
I love my baby and I love myself. I make the time to care for us both.
I honor the joys and challenges of motherhood with a loving heart.
It is powerful to personalize affirmations for your own experience. If you come up with an affirmation that resonates with you, write it down on a piece of paper in your own handwriting and place it on your bathroom mirror or refrigerator. Read your affirmations throughout the day, whether out loud or in silence. These affirmations can be powerful tools to stay grounded and present, care for yourself, and savor the sacredness of the early days with your baby. If you would like more support through the journey of becoming a mother and beyond, come to my Cocoon Time Workshop at TBC on February 25th, 2012 or schedule a free health strategy session with me to learn how I can help you. I look forward to supporting your healthy and happy journey through Motherhood.
With warmth & light,
Laura Thompson Brady, M.S., H.H.C., founder of The Nourished Home, offers holistic health coaching through phone and skype consultations for women, expecting parents, and the whole family. Laura has her Master’s in Human Development & Family Studies and she integrates the latest research on nutrition, pregnancy, birth, parenting, and personal development with holistic health strategies to support her client’s goals for personal and family wellness. Laura lives in the beautiful state of Maine with her husband and two daughters.