With 2015 coming to an end in just a few short weeks, I have begun to plan for 2016. This year was a whirlwind to say the least. With me starting my doula business and with my husband running his first political campaign, I was a very busy wife, mother and businesswoman. This time last year, I was still a full time nanny. Life has definitely changed. But I also tried to find time to do things just for me. We all know how important self care is and I especially wanted to make sure I dedicated some time for that this year. I finally started going to hot yoga (which I LOVE), but I also listened to my body (and my doctor) and took breaks when I needed to. I found out the hard way how teaching Zumba 5 days a week + running + starting a business + helping run a political campaign on top of all of my regular daily tasks put a lot of stress on my body. Since I was no longer working full time, I also wanted to focus on being a more present wife and mother. Basically, less cleaning and more hugs & kisses. That honestly wasn't as hard as I thought. Take away the 9-5 and it can be done! J/K! But really, my husband, son and I shared some very special memories this year and I couldn't be happier about that. However, in the last couple of weeks, I have come to realize that there is more in my life that I want to improve.
The one thing in particular that I want to work on is my relationship with my mother. I love my mother dearly and she has been such an inspiration to me, especially after becoming a mother myself. My mother has made sacrifices that only a mother could and would understand. We are not estranged or anything, but there are two states between us and I do not see her often. I did not move back home after college like some fresh graduates decide to do. I was dead set on staying in NC and establishing my life in a city that I feel in love with. But that decision did not come easy for me (or my husband) as both of our families are in GA. The last few years have tough because just as I was getting married and starting my own family, my parents were ending their marriage. We were in completely different times in our lives and I wasn't sure how to be a daughter to either one of my parents at the time. Fast forward a year, and my mother had a serious back injury and had to have major surgery. My twin sister moved in with her and took care of her for the better part of 2 years. Two things came from this: a ton of guilt and a stunning revelation.
You know that feeling you get when you've spent too much time working and not enough time with your family? That feeling you get when you have spent more time during the day fussing or complaining than positive parenting? Yeah, mommy guilt. Well I have experienced a different type of mom guilt. The type of guilt where you know you should call/visit more, but your schedule and finances won't allow it. Or when you've decided to stop travelling for the holidays to see family because it is just too much. Or when you have to show your son pictures of his grandmother just so he will recognize her when you do visit again. Yes, this is real. And it does not feel good. I am only 4 years into motherhood and each new day is different from the last.
But what happens when your children are grown? What happens when you have an empty nest but still need to be needed? What happens to the mother that may need to be mothered?
I never really gave these questions a real thought until I talked to my mother earlier this week. After our conversation, I had a revelation: my job as a doula is to "mother the mother" until she is comfortable and confident in mothering on her own. But this same thing should be considered for those who are done raising their own children. There are women who need to be mothered so they can put there best foot forward. Someone to listen to them when they are sad, angry or frustrated. Someone who will not judge them. Someone who will be there for them no matter what. We all need it at some point. I have mothered my friends, nanny moms, nanny babies and even my own sister. I myself still need to be mothered. But it's hard to think that a woman like my mother who is so strong with even stronger faith in God needs this. But then it really hit me. My grandmother died when I was just 8 years old. My mother was in her 30s and I remember it being a very difficult time for her and all of my aunts and uncles. I honestly can't imagine not having my mother around while I raise my son. I still remember the first time I called my mother and ask, "How did you do it all?" And I was so serious.
But how exactly do I mother my own mother? How can I possibly give her the same things she gave me as a child now that we are both adults?
While attending an event a couple of months ago, I heard the host say, "2016 is the year of the woman!" That made me smile and also gave me a boost of confidence that I started my business at the right time :) But as it relates to my relationships, I want to have flourishing female relationships in 2016. In business, with my old friends, with new friends and especially with my mother. I want her to know and feel that I love her and I only want the best for her. I want her to come to me if she needs anything-just like a mother. I am going to be intentional about the effort I put forth in these relationships because they matter to me. "Mothering the mother" shouldn't end after birth. It should be ongoing through life with family and friends. It will be those small exchanges that will help us continue to totally rock motherhood & doulahood and encourage others to do the same.