At least every once in a while.
I was going through my phone’s gallery this morning. Something I do periodically because I’m
neurotic organized. I stumbled across a video I recorded during a family vacation and had intended to share on my Instagram account. For whatever reason I never posted it. Probably because I thought it stank, like usual. Watching it several weeks later the message still rings true, so I posted it anyway. Watch it here if it floats your boat.
What message am I talking about? Dare I say the most difficult thing to do as a mother; be selfish. Obviously there needs to be some context. I would never encourage anyone to be selfish to the point that others are neglected or suffer. I’m talking about the kind of selfish that really is anything but; like doing something for yourself.
You are an individual with interests and hobbies.
Allow me to elaborate by sharing a personal experience. That is what I do best, after all!
We recently took a family vacation to Canada. Our plans were to start in Niagara, then Toronto, followed by Thousand Islands. Before I proceed, I should explain that one of my favorite (that’s an understatement) yoga teachers is based in Toronto. Her name is Cecily Milne and she is the creator of YogaDetour. If you’re a yoga teacher and you’re not familiar with her work, look her up asap! I completed her online training this past year and it’s difficult to summarize the impact it’s had on me as an instructor. She’s basically the s***!
So, back to the trip. Before we left home I messaged Cecily and asked her if by any chance she was teaching while I would be in Toronto. To my surprise she said yes! I was super excited because as her method grows the more she is taking her teaching on the road. So this was a once in a lifetime kind of thing. I mentioned this to my husband and told him it was important to me. It meant we would need to leave Niagara no later than 7 am to make it to Toronto in time. He said if it mattered to me, then we’d make it happen. He’s always a good sport.
You are a woman who sometimes wants (and needs) solitude.
Fast forward to our 1st day in Niagara. My middle son was sick to his stomach and threw up in the car, over the hotel balcony… it was a mess. Poor guy did not have the energy to do touristy things. I told my husband I would take care of him at the hotel while he took our other two kids to see the falls. I had already seen it twice, and my son needed me. I snuggled next to him as he slept and already started thinking about cancelling my plans the next morning. I felt bad and wanted to give him time to rest. My husband of course said that was nonsense and that I should attend the class as planned. Plus I had pre-paid, so I’m sure that was a motivator too he-hee.
Next morning rolls around and I woke up first like usual. I looked at my family adoringly. They were all sound asleep and once again the inevitable feeling of guilt crept in. How could I ask them to wake up early for me? Was I being selfish? I mean, it’s just yoga. But then the other part of me felt like ‘Naz, when will you have this opportunity again?!’
Little by little everyone woke up. I’d be lying if I said they were happy about it, but they did it. I was worried about my son feeling sick but he assured me he felt much better. Truth be told I kind of wanted him to be sick so I could back out and not feel guilty. My husband politely told me to shut up and that we were going and I was taking that darn class.
You are a woman who gives endlessly to those you love and asks for the same in return, every once in a while.
We ended up enjoying our two hour drive from Niagara to Toronto. As we got closer to the city I stopped feeling bad for everyone else and started feeling excited for myself. I was going to take a class with a teacher I really admire. I couldn’t wait! We pulled up to the studio, my husband and kids told me to have fun and that they would get breakfast while I practiced.
I won’t bore you with every detail, but let me tell you, it was awesome. Not only did I meet Cecily, a mentor, but I connected with two other women traveling from the states. We exchanged info and shared stories about our struggles as non conventional yoga teachers in small towns. She was a kindred spirit. The practice itself was amazing. The first time I felt like a student in years. Plus, it was the first time in a long time that I was completely immersed in my own body. I wasn’t thinking about the kids. I wasn’t thinking about how many followers I have on social media or YouTube or my blog. I wan’t thinking about anything but the present. It felt f@!#$%* amazing.
I walked out of there feeling spacious, mind body and soul. My husband and kids were waiting for me in the car and I was so eager to hug them and spend the day together. My kids even commented on how happy I was… which made me wonder briefly how I seem the rest of the time, but I suppressed the thought and carried on. I told them about my class and they told me about their amazing breakfast; they even brought me some. My heart smiles when I reflect upon that day.
As hard as it was for me to be ‘selfish’, I was so glad I did it. I learned a valuable lesson. I don’t know if father’s have the same struggle, and I can’t speak for them. I do know, however, that mother’s across the globe continually have this sense of guilt. If you stay at home you feel guilty for not working. If you work you feel guilty for being away from your kids. If you do something for yourself you worry you’re neglecting your spouse or partner. I could go on and on and I bet this rings a bell for many of you.
Let me ask you this; do you put their needs above your own on a regular basis? Do you do so out of love? Is it so wrong to ask for the same in return once in a blue moon? Without knowing you, I feel confident that you do all of theses things and more.
I don’t think twice when it comes to caring for my sick children, or when I have to arrange my schedule to make sure they get to their soccer games or after school activities. I don’t hesitate to put my free time aside to help them with homework or take them to sleepovers, or host them. It make me happy to give to them. By taking that class, I gave my kids and opportunity to do the same for me. They witnessed their father do something out of love for their mother, which is important in a marriage . Once I got over the guilt, it dawned on me that my kids learned something as well.
They learned there is give an take in relationships, whether it’s a partner or friend. These are the things you do for someone you love. Sometimes that means getting up early and receiving nothing in return. I don’t know about you, but that’s important to me. I want my children to grow into conscious, thoughtful, caring adults who understand their needs as well as others.
Above all, it teaches your children that you are more than mom. You are a person. You are a individual with interests and hobbies. You are a woman that sometimes wants (or needs) solitude. You are a woman who gives endlessly to those she loves, and asks for the same in return every once in a while.
So go ahead, be selfish mama. You’ve got my permission.