Last year around my birthday I started exploring the idea of Self-Keep. What I mean is prioritizing myself and considering my interest with the same care and importance as my family. As mothers we are taught to take care of everyone else first and then yourself. In some cases and in some families motherhood is seen as your cross to bare. You are told that if you struggle it’s what mothers do. You are told that if you sacrifice it is what mothers do. And we have! Oh how we have. But motherhood is not a sentence. It is not a cross to bare. It is an addition to a life already in progress.
In the African American community the stigma is very strong. Once your children come into your life you pause. You pause everything about yourself: the woman and give your all to your children and your spouse. There is nothing wrong with the role of mother and wife. I wear it proudly but there is often more. Just because you’ve become a wife and mother it doesn’t mean that you stop existing. In our community you give until there is nothing else to give and then you dig even deeper and give some more. It is the smile of happiness and achievement of any mother to see their children succeed and the grace of any wife to stand beside their husbands in honor but what is behind it? What is in the eyes? Missed opportunities? Untold sacrifices?
I have seen the women in my family strive to be better mothers for their children and in many cases stand alone. It is tiresome and often the source of so much frustration. I used to sit back in my early adult life and frown on mothers who would lash out at their children in the stores. I would turn my nose up and think, I’d never do that. But as a mother now, I get it. I totally get it. I don’t go full Rambo in the store but I understand the caving in of pressure.
Just last night I was having a late night chat with my mother. Everything was put up and nice and neat. My children decided that bedtime was not on the schedule. I could hear them from downstairs get out of the bed and chase each other around. I could even hear the new Christmas toys singing in the night. I really needed their sleepy time more than they did. It was my time finally to hear myself think. I remember pleading with them to go to bed and then finally to quiet down before I separated them. Little did they know my frustration was the final straw in my attempt to have some me time.
Eventually, while exploring the depths of what it meant to self keep it became more. In order to grow myself and to enjoy all parts of my life I’d have to have more than just a few quiet moments. I needed to develop myself again. The misconception of motherhood is that we are grown. Of course in age we are but we’re not grown. What I mean is we haven’t grown to our fullest potential and will not have grown to complete capacity until life is over. So don’t stunt your growth!! Only at the end of the road have you grown and completed development. But most of us are stuck. We are stuck on the hamster will of doing for others or as I say putting out the same fires daily.
Now I don’t mean stop being mom and wife but I do mean start your self-keep. Think about yourself and your goals for your life. Consider you the woman as she pertains to your life. Are you the weak link spouse? The overly grouchy mom? When did having children and developing them mean to stop developing yourself?