Prioritizing Self-Care: How Mothering Became My Spiritual Practice

Me and Otis in the orange groves on his second birthday

Picture a dreamy morning: you're making tea in your kitchen, savoring the aroma of the tea leaves as they steep in hot water. You're also wrapping a plate of warm biscuits, the smell of butter and baking filling the air. You head outside to a large backyard behind several houses where your kids play in a big group. The sun is shining, and the warm breeze carries the sound of laughter and joy. Several adults are outside, too. Some set the table with care, arranging plates and utensils just so. Some throw a ball with the kids, joining in the fun. That table is packed with fruit, eggs, bagels, fresh butter, jam, and roasted potatoes. You put the biscuits down and sit, taking in the sight of your happy family, and friends gathered together. You're not rushing off to school drop off; instead, you're taking your time, enjoying the moment. School takes place after breakfast, right in the backyard, surrounded by the people you love. There are multiple parents, and everyone works together to create a safe, loving, and fun community where everyone feels supported and connected.

This is my dream parenting scenario. 

I've been picturing this for as long as I can remember. And when I saw Anna Fusco's now viral poster - the words described my dream life. 

Not some sister wives scene or a weird cult. But a place where adults have the space and capacity to care for their kids, and we do it together so no one has too heavy a load. I mean, parenting even one child without a support system can feel impossible, and having a community to rely on is important.

Since my twins were born, I've known that we aren't supposed to do this alone. And I don't mean I'm a single parent; I have a loving and engaged partner who's a fantastic co-parent. What I mean is that parenthood is supposed to be a group effort. However, our culture has become more and more separate, and we often feel isolated and alone. We aren't parenting in a village; we are often parenting alone. And it's not just the parents who are struggling. The kids are often left to their own devices without the support and connection of a larger community.

It's important to recognize that parenting is challenging, and it's okay to feel overwhelmed and unsure sometimes. We all, as parents, can struggle with the demands of raising a family, especially when we don't have the support and resources we need. That's why building a community of people who can offer guidance, support, and encouragement along the way is crucial. The first step to a community is making sure we ourselves are  cared for and resourced

I didn't know when my boys were born, but they would unlock my spiritual and healing journey. Motherhood cracked me open, revealing the parts of myself that needed healing. I realized how crucial my healing was - for myself and my family. I needed desperately to be cracked open, to be shown the parts of myself that needed healing, and to learn how to care for myself.

It still took me a few years of parenting to see what I needed. I began clumsily meditating, not knowing what I was doing. I then dove back into journaling, which I hadn't made time for since my early twenties. I began checking in on my inner child and reading and listening to Ram Dass, which opened my world up to spiritual practice as a connection to real unconditional love. Then, I was introduced to somatic experiencing. I'd never connected with my body as a tool for healing; I always thought my body was to be managed.

Although I didn't know what it was called at the time, my daily practice transformed my life. It made me love my kids even more because I learned to love myself, all parts of myself.

Now, as I'm traveling with my family of five, I don't have much alone time. However, my daily practice is still as important to me. Here are the three ways I stay regulated and connected:

  1. Somatic Movement - setting aside even 5 minutes to connect to my body really helps me set my intention for the day. This can look like dancing to a great song, connecting with my breath, or moving around on the floor like a newborn baby. What the heck do I mean when I say roll around like a baby? Lay on the floor and move your arms, legs, and head like a baby, noticing the movements and staying present. Look around with the fresh eyes of a baby. Or roll around like a toddler and flail! The key is staying aware of your body as it's moving, tracking sensations, and noticing any emotions or thoughts that pop up. A quick somatic tool for when I'm feeling overwhelmed in parenthood (or any part of life) is closing my eyes, taking notice of the tension present in my body, taking 2-3 deep breaths into the pressure, and then feeling the edges of the tension begin to smooth out and expanding my capacity of what I can hold and feeling that as a sensation in my body.
  2. Meditation - again, even five minutes of meditation can help me feel more centered and connected. You might not like waking up early but getting up just 15 minutes before the kiddos are life-changing. Don't start scrolling when you wake up! Connect with your breath. Feel into your heart space, and allow it to open. Imagine a teacher or loved one pouring love onto you. Sit in the silent stillness. Maybe say a short gratitude prayer or intention. Five minutes is better than nothing!
  3. Self-Compassion - as a human parent, I know I'm not going to be perfect every day. But it took me time to believe I wasn't expected to be perfect. Now I check in with myself every day, a few times. When I'm in the bathroom or sitting down, I give myself some self-compassion by saying, "I'm a human, and I'm allowed to make mistakes." or simply saying, "I love you." Self-compassion is how we remember that even though we are parents, we are humans and have limitations to what our nervous systems can handle. A hand on the heart and a kind word to ourselves can turn around challenging situations.

These are all very simple things, which our minds can often tell us won't change anything. But, the small teeny tiny commitments over time have a radical and massive impact on our healing journey.

I'm still looking for my dream village parenting setup, and it's part of why I'm traveling with my family now! In the meantime, the more care I give to myself, the more I see my children and myself through the eyes of unconditional love. I believe that when we care for ourselves, we also care for our children, and we are better able to show up for them as the parents they need us to be.

It's important to prioritize self-care, especially in the midst of the demands of parenting. Practices like meditation and somatic movement can help us feel more centered and connected, and self-compassion is key - we're only human! Let's all strive to see ourselves and our kids through the eyes of unconditional love.

By taking care of ourselves, we can become better parents and create a loving and supportive community for our families. Your capacity to hold your good is expanding every day.

What helps you stay connected and resourced? 



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