Holding Too Much
by Daria Portillo, LMFT
Today I found myself carrying two sippy cups, a child’s backpack, a cup of coffee and my purse. How had I become my toddler’s sherpa? My two year-old daughter fussed and refused to climb into her carseat. But I didn’t want to lift her and strain my back yet again. In more ways than one, I was carrying more than I could hold. Even though nothing had been dropped I fought back the welling frustration of being overburdened.
Throughout the day there was a cost/benefit analysis of the quality of mothering I provided. I didn’t know if fathers made these mental calculations too. But they were exhausting!
As mothers, we hold most of the pieces together for our children. We buy them new clothes, enriching classes and pack them healthy snacks. If we have time, we schedule play dates to provide the optimal balance of socialization.
Could you imagine what life would feel like if we cared for ourselves as well as we cared for our children? What would you do: learn an instrument, sew a skirt, write a story? Imagine the food you would pack for lunch: a hearty curry, fresh berries, or a nourishing kale salad. Who would you call to talk to, just for the hell of it?
And how would you soothe yourself when you were depleted? Could you ask a friend or loved one for a hug? Meditation can provided nourishment when your mind is going a hundred miles an hour. You get to be still, breathe and open your heart to your experience. It’s an act of self care that may feel difficult. But with practice arises feelings of calm. Setting aside time to meditate will remind you that you deserve care and attention, too.
By Elizabeth Mack, MFTI
Often we know we should take better care of ourselves, yet it helps to have a reminder. Here are a few things that we can incorporate into daily life that help us rest, restore, and revive:
1. Grant yourself a “time-out.” It may only be for two minutes, but anything helps. You don’t need to find the perfect moment when the baby is sleeping or the kids are playing quietly. It might be when dinner is on the stove and children are screaming bloody murder, but as long as there is no imminent danger, give yourself permission to lock yourself in the bedroom and catch your breath.
2. Talk to yourself gently; name the emotions you are feeling. One of the ways we soothe our children when they’re hurting is listening to their woes with compassion, and reflecting back our understanding of their suffering. We may say: “That was a big fall, I can see it was really scary for you!” Being able to offer ourselves compassion when we experience big feelings can be just as powerful.
3. Remember to S.T.O.P. When you are feeling really overwhelmed, remember these steps:
Stop (whatever you are doing, put it down and walk away if necessary)
Take a breath
Observe (your emotions, breathing, and what is going on in your body)
Proceed (…with CAUTION)
4. Pick a mantra. It may help to repeat a phrase you find comforting when things are tough. It could be something such as, “This too shall pass” or “May I be calm and peaceful” or “May I accept my life as it is” or…whatever you want. Make it personal!
5. Remember that you are not alone. Suffering is a part of life, and encountering it is part of the shared human experience. Text or call a friend.
Another excellent way to connect with others is to find your community. In the Mindful Moms support group, you’ll begin each session with guided meditation, learn new skills and take ample time to share your struggles. Elizabeth Mack, MFTI and Daria Portillo, LMFT will guide us through the steps of finding self-compassion and practicing self-care. The new 8-week session begins Tuesdays, 7:30-9:00pm, September 13- November 1st, in Atwater Village. Call (313) 389-1808 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org