The other day, my youngest child started kindergarten. I woke up that morning feeling anxious. I asked myself, “Did I love enough?”
Searching for affirmation that I had done an ok job over the last nine years of parenting my two children, I noticed that I was clenching my jaw. My throat was tight. My heart was racing. I felt the knot in the stomach.
But then, some spacious grace filled me, I paused, and I realized I was asking the wrong question.
By asking, “Did I love enough?” I was judging myself.
I yelled – therefore I didn’t love enough.
I sounded exasperated. Therefore I didn’t love enough.
My children can argue. Therefore it must be something I did wrong. Therefore I didn’t love enough.
As moms we often find ourselves caught in this vicious cycle of self-judgment and blame. I recently listened to NPR’s On Being podcast with Brene Brown. In it she says that women get this message: Do it all. Do it perfectly. And make it look easy.
This creates one big shame cycle. It keeps us from seeing our brilliance and letting our light shine – for our healing, for our children’s flourishment, and for our world’s transformation. It leads to a myopic view of ourselves. It leads to tight knots in our bellies, clenched jaws, and closed hearts.
Such self-judgment tightens a noose around our necks and squeezes so tight that our light can’t shine and our souls can’t breathe.
What if we saw how such self-judgment is a product of our patriarchal cultural context? In keeping moms hyper self-critical, we see ourselves as the problem rather than the cultural context in which we are parenting. We spend our time micro-focused on scrounging for parenting advice rather than listening to our own inner wisdom. We spend our time scrounging for affirmation outside ourselves that we are ok, we are doing enough, and we are good enough. We pick apart how we didn’t do enough in the past and we sacrifice caring for ourselves in the present out of mom guilt.
… rather than embracing our sacred feminine brilliance.
… rather than reverencing ourselves.
… rather than cherishing ourselves and caring for ourselves in deep, nourishing ways.
After dropping my children off at school on Monday, I met some fellow moms at our local health food store. Thank God for community.
As I was leaving, one of my friends, Laura, and I lingered for a moment. I told her about how I’m going to spend this upcoming year. I told her I need the quiet. I need to nourish me. I need to feel my senses at ease. I need to meet myself again and linger.
She said to me, “I need to nourish me, too, Lisa. I have sacrificed so much over the last nine years. And that’s all ok. I was glad to give so much. But now, now I need to nourish me.”
I looked at her and we both “got it”: This is the Year of Nourish MOM.
I could see the tiredness, the brokenness in her. She could see it in me.
I could also see her beginning to open up to the truth now rising in her – that she had to bring the same fierce love – the same deep devotion – she has for her children into nourishing HERself. And she could see the same “nourish mom” revolution rising within me.
Maybe you too are dropping this “mom guilt” and the critical mom self-judgment so prevalent in our culture and psyche. Maybe you are a mom who has just entered into the new phase of parenting where your babies are all in school full-time. Maybe you are going through a big transition with your family and children. Maybe you just dropped your child off at college. Maybe you are hearing that it’s time to stop the critical self-judging and instead nourish yourself.
Such wisdom arises from within us. I call this place the Divine Within. You see, I have this image of the Divine that isn’t about harsh criticism or judgment. This God is the god of the ancient mystical poets, like Rumi and Hafiz. This is a god of accompaniment, gentleness and tenderness whose only desire is to be alongside us.
Whatever name you have for that “Sacred Something” within you and around us – God, Universe, Love, Divine, Source – what would happen if we began to turn inward and listen?
What if we turned away from the limiting voice of our current cultural context and turned toward that Wisdom within us?
What if we started to hear the Divine inviting us into a conversation NOT from a place of judgment, but from a place of deep, nourishing love and accompaniment?
As I was lying there in the morning of the first day of school, I felt this whisper within me:
Maybe we can hear the desire of the Divine to accompany us and nourish us.
Here’s how I could see that divine conversation going:
The Divine’s Invitation to Mothers
By Lisa McCrohan
I woke this morning in a panic.
My daughter starting kindergarten, and I am wondering,
“Oh my God, did I love enough?”
Then I hear You,
through the panic, inviting
the knot in my stomach to begin to ease, saying:
“Maybe, instead of looking back over the years of your mothering and asking,
‘Did I love enough?’ maybe you could hear Me saying,
‘Tell me about how you loved.
Tell me about the magnificence of your children
and what delights you about them.
Tell me about the moments of such tender connection.
I want to hear you.
I want to see your face light up as
you talk about love and delight and connection.
Let’s linger in these stories and remember –
remember the good.
Tell me about the aches and longings.
Tell me about the utter confusion – the reality of parenting
hitting you in the face –
the womb, the heart, the psyche, the ego, the soul –
like a ton of bricks that you had to then rebuild
into a sacred path
that was your very own.
Brick by brick.
I want to hold your hand on that sacred path.
I want to show you how these longings have become
your sign of deep love,
your sacred cry out to me.
Tell me about navigating the unknown waters of parenting
and the times you had no idea where you were going.
The times you felt out of control.
The times you felt thrown into the waters and
didn’t know which way to swim and
you felt like you would surely drown.
Tell me about the times you finally chose to stop struggling
and float, go with the current,
and you found still waters to rest in for a bit.
I want to hear about your journey.
I want to soothe the aches,
tend to the wounds still needing to heal.
I want to let you rest.
Let my love be healing balm now
for your heart, your worries, your fears.
I want to celebrate with you and
delight in the moments of joy and adventure
and connection you have had with your children.
I want to show you the bigger picture –
how the problem isn’t you.
It’s the isolation,
the “doing it alone”
and “holding it all” so prevalent
in this culture.
Read that again.
It’s not you.
I want to show you
the magnificent light of your own being
as my poet, Rumi, said,
and show you now
in this season of motherhood
how to honor that light in the years to come.
I want you to be ever so nourished and held and resourced.
You, My Love, are a magnificent mother.
I delight in who you are.
I see how deeply you love.
Love yourself with such devotion and tenderness.
I know you know how to do it.
You have loved your children this way.
Now there is room to let go of the striving and panting,
the trying and the hurrying,
the self-judgment and blame.
There is a sacred spaciousness to draw from –
like drinking cool water from a spring.
Come, drink. Rest. Be nourished.’
And so you invite me into the sacred space of nourishing myself.
Starting this year, I’ll cup my hands and drink.
I’ll splash such sacred holy water over my sacrificial body,
this divinely feminine body that has brought forth life.
And from such refreshing nourishment,
I will honor and embody
the sacred feminine.
I will learn again to cherish myself
and regard myself as a sacred temple.
For I know that in deeply nourishing me,
I am nourishing the hearts, bodies, and spirits
of my children.
I am nourishing my tribe of soul sisters.
I am nourishing
Lisa A. McCrohan
Friends, I am calling this The Year of Nourishing MOM.
I know there are tons of us who need such nourishment. If you hear that it’s time to nourish YOU, please, join me. Sign up to receive my blog posts. Connect with me on Facebook. I’ll be writing and sharing as I go along on this journey — to nourish my own soul and inspire you all to do the same.Blessings,