Most days, I know it can be incomprehensible to think of me as anything other than your mother. After all, that has been the nexus of our relationship since the beginning of your time on earth.
But I am, and have always been, so much more than just your mother, with needs of my own to fulfill. Over the past 5-10 years, as you have both grown, you have watched me reclaim time for the things that make me ME. Part of me is thrilled that you are watching and experiencing this evolution since it is important for you both to know that I can simultaneously love you more than anything in this world and also love myself enough to regularly find my own joy. The other part of me wishes it didn’t take me so long to make these things a part of my daily practice—I feel like I spent a goodly portion of your adolescence being at my physical and emotional best for everyone and everything else but me. The funny thing is, I didn’t even realize I was neglecting some of my needs until I started tending to them more consciously and deliberately.
There is no blame for this. I own my choices and many times I did not make my own right choice. I let work get in the way, I didn’t set boundaries, I mismanaged my time, I let the wrong people into my life, and I burned myself out. I am sharing my evolving knowledge with you today—may my wisdom eventually serve you well on your journeys.
- There are enough hours in the day, but managing those hours and setting protective boundaries around your time is extremely important. You definitely have to learn how to say “no” to others so you can say “yes” to yourself.
- I can go weeks and sometimes months without any hard-core exercise (*it is NOT good for me, however, and I am working hard to not treat my body like that anymore), but if I don’t feel like I have regular opportunities for creativity and personal expression, it begins to feel like I am crawling out of my own skin. I get agitated, edgy, sad, and my fuse gets shorter and shorter. [I get the same feeling when I haven’t been able to get to the beach for a while, so winters can be tough for me.] I would much rather spend two hours a day writing or making art than watching television or mindlessly surfing my social media feeds. As I more regularly and unabashedly listen to those inner longings, I am experiencing a creative flow the likes of which I haven’t seen since way back in my scrapbooking days, and I feel so GROUNDED and happy. I hope you both find the thing that soothes your souls, whether it be art, writing, exercise, being in nature, or something equally as enriching.
- Be around those who positively impact and add value to your life. Life is far too short for people who suck the joy out of a space, stay stuck in their misery, try to drag you down with them, get jealous, and want you to play small because they are too insecure to live large. Also, if you have to change who you are to please someone, they are not worth your time. I have learned, I would rather be alone than be with people who don’t inspire me to greatness, make me think, or have my back when times are tough. At this stage of my life, loving me for me is a prerequisite for getting a space at my table. May you both find good friends, and be good friends. And may it not take you as long as it took me to weed out the toxic seeds.
- My relationship with your dad is THE most important relationship in my life, and I treat it as such. I deliberately carve out time for us, even when life is incredibly busy. I look to connect with him as deeply and as often as possible because it is critically important to me that we keep the magic alive, regardless of what life throws at us. Too many people put their marriages on auto-pilot while the kids are at home and then they can’t regain the connection and the passion once the kids leave the nest. They co-exist (or not), but they never truly connect. If you don’t put gas in the tank, your car won’t run. If you don’t nurture your relationships, they fall apart. If and when you get married, may you always put yourself and your marriage first.
My best advice to the both of you is to not wait until middle age to implement this wisdom. Manage your time so you have plenty left over for YOU and your emotional, physical, and personal needs. Whether it be exercise, art, or something else entirely—take time for the things that set your soul on fire and stoke your happy. Don’t worry if you aren’t quite sure what that thing is just yet…you’ll know it when you find it. Don’t settle for unfulfilling relationships or interpersonal contact that makes you feel bad in any way. And, when you settle down to start a family of your own, remember that your relationship with yourself is the foundational element from which all other facets of your family are built upon—your relationship with your spouse is next. Do your best to build—and repeatedly rebuild—the strongest of foundations.
I love you both more than you will ever know.