Dear Mamas: Feed Yourself

by holli on January 17, 2012

Dear Mamas,

When I was a brand new Mama, I found a few blogs that spoke to me. They made suggestions on how to make it through the day, or simply made me laugh. I soaked up every bit I needed, and learned other things the hard way. Maybe by sharing my story, I can help you escape the learning pains I experienced.

They say it takes 10,000 hours to master something like playing the Cello, Writing or Painting. Well, I’m about 32,000 hours into this Mothering gig (given 16 hour days – a rough average, 365 days, 5.5 years). So, I like to think I’ve learned some things. I certainly don’t feel like I’ve come close to mastery, but then again, I doubt you can master anything based on relationships. Raising kids is a far cry from playing an instrument. If only it were that easy.

The big lesson I’ve learned the hard way: Feed yourself. I’ve learned this through trial and error, from actually the need to eat for sustenance and the need to create and feed my soul.  It was easier to notice the need to feed myself. I could only go so long while in Breastfeeding mode without eating.  But, I started to miss creating like a craving I couldn’t quite identify.

Park time with my kids, photo by Casey Margell

Feeding for your soul…

One day while venting about the fact that I missed doing things that I wanted, my cousin and younger Mama asked me point blank,”What do you miss exactly?” If it was painting, she suggested that I set up a spot out of reach from the kids, and paint for whatever times I could find, 10 minutes or an hour. Though simple, it was profound to me. I was used to painting or crafting for hours at a time until I completed the project at hand. While I knew the advice was right on, it took me months to actually try it. At first, I made cards, then ventured to more time intensive stuff like creating recipes in the kitchen. It took another prompt to get me to apply the concept to my creative love, Photography.

A Photograph used in my show from the park adventure with the kids!

Last week I had my first ever Photography Show, and it was fantastic. I had dreamed of doing a show, but felt like I couldn’t possibly find the time. I used that excuse for two years. Then, I battled the Dragon of Doubt, fighting against the lie that my work wasn’t good enough yet. And, finally, at the show, I managed to face the reality of motherhood with a tiny tantrum from my sweet little Miss with ease, sending her out with Dad and Grandpa for dinner and bed time (at the start of the evening she let everyone in the venue know that she wanted a “PINK CUPCAKE!” not the Vanilla one I brought to meet her and her bother’s food allergy needs). I wasn’t rattled, and proceeded to enjoy the show.

So, whether your passions before kids included Reading, Golfing, Knitting or singing Karaoke, make time for it. You’ll be glad you did.

Feeding your body…

So, you know how I said it was easy to not forget to feed myself as a Mama? Well, that was true during my Breastfeeding hey days. I was pumping out an extra 8 oz. at one point. As my breastfeeding time reduced, I was hungry less often. I’d find myself suddenly hungry without anything to eat but the snacks I’d packed for the kids. Then, I’d feel guilty eating some of their food. After getting over that and planning better, I’ve found myself not making a real meal on my lunches off while both kids are at school (twice a week now). And, so the roller-coaster goes of learning to feed myself as my mothering schedule changes.

Get support, because frankly, raising people requires help.

I have a few friends who are pregnant as I share all of this with you. Whether you’re a brand-shiny-new Mom, or going through Pregnancy again, remember you are not alone. People love and want to help you, but sometimes they don’t know how. Do you need some time to feed your soul or body? Ask for a few hours to yourself, or some extra meals to have on hand.

Don’t sweat it. Keep moving forward.

While I love rekindling my passion for Photography and writing, I have to remind myself to keep a balance. Denise over at Nurturing Creativity talked about this – putting your priorities in order: people first, then creativity. A good reminder as I figure out the balancing act myself.

Lisa-Jo is a Mama after my own heart as she finds the joys in daily details of Motherhood. She shared recently about the joy of driving alone in a Minivan. For the record, I hope I will never, ever drive a Minivan (no offense to those who do, they do fit the needs of parenthood for many). So, while I don’t feel the connection in the precise details of her story, the message hits home: time alone is good.

And finally, if you’re having a hard time Mothering, vent, get help, and move forward as CJ did in her brutally honest dairy of sorts post: Out the Other End.

XO, Holli

Got any other New Mama Advice? Or Mothering advice in general? Please share!




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