Let’s get real. Like really real. This time of year is hard on our mental…
I wish my husband would stop dilly dallying and learn how to read my mind already. I’ve mentioned many times how much I would appreciate it if he would do this.
All jokes and sarcasm aside this has been a hard won lesson for me and I know I’m not alone. I was conditioned NOT to ask for what I want. In fact, in my house growing up, specifically asking for something was the way you guaranteed you wouldn’t get. There was an ever changing mysterious way to hint at it and make it clear but absolutely NOT direct.
I hope your household was different, and whether it was or not, as women we are almost always conditioned to abandon and ignore our own needs and desires in favor of attuning ourselves to the needs of others. Then, you become a mom and well…here we are: furious and resentful that our partner didn’t go to Hogwarts.
I’ll be honest here.
My tendency to put my husband into this position where he simply can’t win, isn’t my best trait. I can blame my parents, my ex husband, and/or the patriarchy for this internalized conditioning until I’m blue in the face, but that won’t change the experience my kind, loving, considerate, forever husband and I have in our relationship.
My son was born October of 2019, just a few short months before lockdown. So by the time my birthday in April came around, I was out of my freaking mind. When my husband asked what I wanted to do for Mother’s Day, knowing the options were limited, I answered “I want something soft and cozy to wear and I want to be a dad for the day.”
We were both a bit surprised at my answer.
Him because it wasn’t really…nice. My statement implies that he is not an active participant in parenting which he definitely is. Still…I was breastfeeding our son, we were quarantined so I handled every feeding day and night. And because our son was so young so much was still on me. And I hadn’t yet been diagnosed or treated for my postpartum anxiety and I was running on empty. Less than empty. I’d already used all the fumes.
What surprised me the most was how unapologetically truthful I was with my answer. I DIDN’T consider him before responding. I didn’t filter myself. I didn’t change my language to soften the message.
I asked for what I actually wanted.
Which started an incredible conversation about the emotional labor and mental load of motherhood. And that I agree he is incredibly supportive and engaged, AND we’ve BOTH been conditioned for me to do everything. Because I’m the mom.
We’ve since developed language that helps us navigate our conditioning and learn and grow together to alter what parenthood means in our family. Now I don’t say “I want to be a dad.” I say “On Mother’s Day I don’t want to be the lead parent.”
Now, with Mother’s Day right around the corner, I am inviting you to get to the heart of the matter and speak your true desires too. Let’s determine what it is you really want so you can ask for it clearly, honestly, and unapologetically.
So I’m sharing my three steps to start finding clarity, direction, and accuracy to alter my mindset, my physical state, and my communication skills to actually fill my bucket (yes, I’ve upgraded from cup to bucket).
Assess what you’re working with.
Not only can you not pour from an empty bucket, you won’t get far with an empty tank. Since you cannot grow what you cannot measure we need to get really clear on where we are starting from.
You know I’m always going to start with breathing. Annoying? Maybe. Powerful? You know it! You can read more about the power of our breath here.
Take a deep breath in and an even deeper breath out. Repeat with the intention to make your exhale longer than your inhale. As your exhale lengthens and you’re able to more fully empty your lungs, notice if you feel like you have more space on your inhale to fill up.
Measure the space between where you are and where you want to be.
Just like we need to know where we are starting from, we also need a clue into where we want to go.
As you continue working to lengthen your breath in and out, notice the contrast and space between empty and full.
- What do you feel in your body now?
- How does that compare to what you felt when you first brought attention and intention to your breath?
- Is this how you want to feel?
- What do you feel in that space from where you started to what you feel now?
I don’t know about you, but every time I take the time to breathe with intention I am shocked by the scope of impact. My nervous system calms down, my muscles seem to relax a little bit, and my thoughts clear.
The first step is one step.
Gone are the days of sudden, drastic changes and overnight overhauls. Welcome to the new world. Where small yet substantial change leads to meaningful and sustainable change. The same way you aren’t going to go from two years nap-trapped on the couch to running the New York Marathon, you’re not going to suddenly go from empty to full. The first step is one step in the direction of where you want to go.
Building on the information you got exploring the space between where you started your breath to how it feels now (assuming you like where this is heading), what is keeping you from feeling like this on a daily basis? What obstacles exist between the starting version of you and this more expanded version of you?
What is something you can do on a regular basis to take one step toward removing that obstacle?
There may be a few things! That’s totally ok! You may not know the answer right now, also amazing! Remember, the sudden, drastic change is not what we are after. We are moving with more intention, awareness, and stability.
So, for me I now know that I need to be able to close the tabs in my brain. I arrange childcare for when I’m working and also some time for me to BE. For me to do things outside of work and active momming where I only have one tab (ok it’s definitely two or three tabs) open in my brain instead of a million. This mental break is what enables me to sustainably and consistently show up as a better version of me.
So on holidays I ask for more of what I know I need to be and feel my best. I ask to open no tabs on Mother’s Day. And my birthday. And Hanukkah. And any other time I am celebrating. Sometimes I even go really big and go away by myself. This is honeymoon level tab closing!
What you need may be the same as me and it also could be completely different! Figuring out what we need and what would help is what can feel impossible in motherhood. We are so overextended in all facets of life that the energy we need to strategize and make a plan feels…nonexistent.
AND! If we pause, breathe, and listen because the answer is inside of us. Like Glinda tells Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. And if you’re looking for more support around finding time, space, and energy to figure out what YOU need to feel your best, click here.