When I became a parent seven years ago I struggled quite a bit with identity. I’ve blogged about it before – the transition from a perceived strong sense of who I was (though that’s up for discussion) to ‘Oscar’s mum’ – merely a nameless person defined by a small dependent.
We have countless discussions at group about how parenthood blurs those boundaries, and in the most extreme situations, appears to completely redefine us, as if our former sense of self were merely a fragile house of cards waiting for a breeze to shift the formation.
It leads to a bigger discussion around the theme of ‘selflessness’ and putting our children first…because that’s what we do, right? Even when we are sleep starved, unable to string a sentence together and totally overwhelmed by the pressure to ‘be a good parent’, we feel we have to get to the back of the queue of emotional investment and just keep giving. Because giving is good, right?
Well there’s a memo doing the rounds that seems to suggest that making time for ourselves is akin to being selfish. It’s not just about parents either, but pretty much the human race. We’ve been conditioned to believe that hard work is the holiest of holy grails and that we’ve just got to keep going, and do more… no matter how exhausted we are.
It’s time to tear up that memo. If it’s a virtual one then delete it and then delete it from the deleted items. Belts and braces.
Because the ultimate paradox lies in the old adage that it all starts with you. Caring, valuing and loving yourself is the most important thing you can do. Every other relationship you have in life is defined by the way you feel about yourself. Your behaviour in other relationships is purely a projection of that dynamic. It sounds like something I’ve lifted from the self-help section in the local bookshop, but I make no apologies.
I’ve been on so many social media chats and in real life conversations where people say with well-meant sincerity that doing something good for themselves just feels, well, selfish. In contrast, acts of self-love are the opposite. They give us vital space to be who we truly are and allow us to feel rejuvenated, and more able to give freely and unconditionally.
Because love isn’t something you measure out in jugs, like an ingredient of a cake, nor is it conditional. The more you have, the more you give and the whole cycle just continues to replenish itself.
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