A big part of maternal health involves self-care. Taking care of yourself not only as a mama, but as a PERSON, with needs and interests of your own. We can not give from where we ourselves are lacking, and our next few posts will be exploring this topic, from the perspective of different mothers in different seasons of life. We hope that it encourages you to invest in yourself and to explore what makes you, YOU.
I hosted a party tonight for a friend who's recently started marketing for a jewelry line. The mission of the line is to help women tell their stories through symbolic charms and symbols that you can personalize. When I first heard my friend talk about this concept, I didn't really get it. I mean, the brand is basically a grown-up version of the charm bracelet. The pieces are cute, but... Lots of jewelry is cute. But during the course of the party, I got it. And, as I am wont, I found a deeper symbolism in what they're trying to do...
My friend gathered us all together and started the introductions. She told us about her life and her twin daughters, she showed us her necklace and told us the significance of it. Then she had each person tell how they met me (I was the common denominator in a group of women who mostly, but not all, knew each other) and give three words that described me for them and then three words that they felt symbolized themselves, or this particular stage in their lives.
At first it was awkward. I do not like being the center of attention unless I am teaching, or telling a funny story, or performing -- in control of the script, so to speak. But as each friend, most of them new, in this new place, in this new part of my life; as each friend shared their experience of meeting me and then affirmed verbally to me, in my hearing, that they saw this thing in me, that they saw this or that part of me, that they knew something about me...I felt a spreading warmth and confidence that I did not realize I had been missing. I gradually began to see another piece of this truth about women needing women that has been a part of my life ever since I can remember.... We need this from each other. We need to tell, not just our own stories, but each other's. We need to deliberately affirm for each other who we are, what we do, what we think and believe, what we are doing and why. We need to remind each other often of who we are, and why.
Women, in the daily grind of housework, office work, mothering, infertility, loss, moving, never going anywhere, having no place to go, laundry, cooking, yard work; whatever it is that drains you of identity and makes you forget who you are, and why...we need to have someone who will look into our eyes and say, "I see you. I know who you are. Remember this? This is who you are, this is why." So much of what we do goes unnoticed, unseen. A large part of our daily activity is cyclical, unmade as quickly as it is made (cooking, cleaning, laundry). I believe we crave, sometimes unconsciously, a witness that we exist outside of those things: that there is something continuous, something linear in us that is essentially Us. We sisters ought to be that witness to each other.
I ended the night with the deep urge to text all my friends and tell them; I see you. I know you. You are a reader, teacher, artist. You are a musician, teacher, creator of beauty. You are strong, vibrant, loyal. You are warm, caring, welcoming. You are driven, articulate, creative. You are gentle, loving, humble. You are curious, intelligent, caring. I see you. I see each of you. I name you. Thank you for being in my life.
A version of this first appeared at http://theforsheyfour.blogspot.com.
For more information on our community classes focusing on self-care, please visit here.