I found two beautiful little bar necklaces a couple weeks ago. It is a style I have kept my eye on and never could really afford. They turned up on sale and a stellar price. As I put one on, I noticed how beautifully they paired together. A little mantra for my heart, “Be brave, Mama Bear.”
Why brave? Brave because the weight of bringing little ones with you everywhere can be crushing. Brave because motherhood comes with expectations, responsibilities, and emotions that can easily swallow you whole. Brave because taking care of them means taking care of you. I was listening to a Sally Clarkson podcast last week and one statement really resonated with me (paraphrased), When you go to drink from an empty glass, you get nothing. No refreshment, no filling, no satiation – your need is not met. Same for moms, if you try and give to your children from an empty, exhausted place you provide them little. Now the pressure is on! Be brave because you need to fill your cup, mama. I am not sharing this for you, more for me. Or maybe for you, if you need to hear it too.
Here is the thing: I used to feel guilty if I bought myself something nice (the children need things more than I do). I would feel badly if I left them for two hours to spend time with a friend or go on a walk alone (my first duty is to my kids, they need me). I would not allow myself time to read a book for pleasure, or to sit and sip my hot coffee. Then I began to understand what I was offering them. I was offering my exhausted, bitter, cranky, easily frustrated, wore down self. It was all I had to give them.
Be brave, mama bear. Be brave and take 10 minutes to read some scripture or a new book while you sip your favorite warm tea. Be brave and hang out with the ones that fill you up. Be brave and smile and laugh in the woods all by yourself. Be brave and ask your husband to watch his babies so you can run and grab a pedicure with a friend.
I am not advocating doing less for your children. I don’t even put a demand on how often I do these things. Demands can become more crushing than freeing. I am merely saying, offer your children yourself from as full and beautiful a place as you are able to. In the newborn with two toddlers phase that may look like a shower every day and nothing more. In the one or two have started school and I have a toddler phase it will probably look more like time to yourself, time with a friend (how exciting, right?).
So, be brave, Mama Bear. You can do this. You can pour from a filled place.