The quote from Brené Brown, “The magic is in the mess” has been one that comes up to gift me again and again, and seems to take on new meanings.
Yesterday at around 6pm, after a long day which included homeschooling, multiple meal and snacks prepped, a trek outside to play, and several dispute resolutions. Not to mention my own work, including needing to be fully present for others on four different Zoom sessions, and keeping up with messages on Voxer, IG, Facebook and email.
I looked around at the state of my home. Disaster. Dishes piled up, random stuff on all the surfaces—the chaos of it all stirring up my own inner chaos.
Then one of my boy’s iPads rings. An incoming video chat from a friend that my boys share, and an invitation to play a video game together on the Xbox.
Great! They can play together while I clean up this crazy place! My mind racing to where I will start first, and estimating how much I can get done in an hour.
But then— it turns out the Xbox isn’t working. This is usually my husband’s forte, but I fiddle with the back of the game system for a good 15 minutes, while the children set up their gaming zone. Stuffies are put onto chairs and placed in view of the camera. So cute. They’re excited.
I can’t figure it out, meaning we have a dilemma. Only one child can effectively chat with the friend with the one device, since a group game is no longer possible. Tech Support/my husband doesn’t get home til 7:30.
This is the spot I regularly find myself in— where my needs and my kids needs are at odds.
Ultimately, I still do have a choice.
Stress is when there is a gap between what you expected, and what is actually happening. The more you persist, the more you fight reality, the more your stress increases.
The story ends with me building a pillow fort with my 5 year old while my 9 year old got to FaceTime their friend. And something really small but really magical happened.
After some rough-housing and physical play, there was a point in which my 5 year old just stayed in his fort for a long 10 minutes, silently. He said, “I just love this.” And at that moment where he reached almost a meditative state in his little pillow fort, I noticed the sky outside my bedroom window.
Orange on the horizon and bright blue during the fleeting moment of time where the sky is its most beautiful. “Magic hour” is my favourite time of day, but more often than not, I miss it completely.
I don’t think it is any coincidence that the moment I chose to lean-in instead of push my agenda at the detriment of everyone else, was one of the moments I was given this sensory reward.
More so now, that ever, we don’t have the luxury of time to ourselves to “do self-care”. Particularly in the early years of motherhood, it is common to feel depleted by the seemingly insatiable needs of tiny humans.
I was asked recently to speak on a panel about self-love, and I was called to share about the ways I have refused to believe that my own self-love had to occur separately from my kids.
Of course it is nice to go get a pedicure. Of course I love a massage as much as the next person. However, I have been a homeschooling, attachment parenting mom almost a decade before a pandemic forced every family to work-from-home. I’ve never, not worked from home and my kids have never been in daycare or school.
I have always created the margin in my life for the extra that kids tend to need in these early years. I never left them with a caregiver that they hadn’t already built an attachment to. I never went away overnight until they were really ready, from a brain development standpoint. I co-slept until they were ready to have their own bed, and I nursed on demand beyond the toddler years.
Yet–I am far from a martyr-mother. Well, how?
Lifestyle Optimization and Leaning in are the principles that I have used to support my mental and physical wellbeing, while meeting my kids where they were at, from season to season. I find meditation in the moments where my needs are at odds with my kids. I also refuse to negotiate when it comes to nutrition. I learned when my kids were in the most challenging phases, that FOOD has the biggest return-on-investment. The effort I put into cooking and the investment I put into supplementation, mean that I am equipped to live fully, and make the most of my time as their mother.
Do yourself (and your family) a HUGE service and watch this video where I shared along with four incredible women, hosted by my friend Emma Fader. The lineup included:
Jodi Patterson – Taking a Weekly Sabbath
Diane Sears – Nourishing yourself / Your Environment
Kathrine Lee – Priority Planning
Hayden Sears – Investing in and Knowing Yourself
I promise that you will take some tangible ways to up your self-love game. If you cannot justify taking time to watch this 45 minute video, I will give you this:
You are your children’s first teacher, so if for no other reason than the fact that you are teaching your kids how to love themselves — it is time to really reflect on the love that you are showing yourself.