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If Mama Ain't Happy
“IF MAMA AIN’T HAPPY, AIN’T NOBODY HAPPY.”
I first saw this quote painted on the wall of Mia’s Mexican Restaurant on Lemmon when I was a child, but it’s only in the last 5 years that I’ve figured out what it really meant.
In all my conversations about mothering last week, I would say that THE most important thing discussed was the importance of taking care of yourself as Mommy. Many moms still say that they feel guilty for getting away, for making time for themselves. I say, “Let go of the guilt, and let in the love!” Research shows that the most important factor toward determining a child’s own wellbeing is the wellbeing of his/her mother.
Moms – if your basic needs are not being met (sleep, food, health, touch, love), then you simply cannot be your best self or best parent.
Your main job as a mommy is NURTURER. You give, give, give, so your children can grow, grow, grow. Well, here’s a radical question: Who is nurturing YOU? Are you feeling nurtured in your own life? Is there someone who touches you in a loving way on a daily basis? Is there someone who accepts you just the way you are and loves you unconditionally, like a mother loves a child? Is there someone you go to with your problems for guidance, for reassurance, for comfort? Do you have a shoulder to cry on? A listening ear and heart and face?
Maybe for you, this person is your own mom. Maybe your nurturer is a friend. Maybe it’s a partner, mommy mentor, therapist, or pastor. Maybe it’s a combination of people – including yourself! But chances are, you’re not getting enough nurturing in your life because you’re not asking for it. If you’re like I was a couple of years ago (when I first faced this question at a conference), the very thought of someone nurturing me and my spirit brought me to tears because I needed it so badly, and had done without it for so long.
If this is true for you, it’s time to reflect on how you can seek more – not just for your own benefit, but so that you can be a better parent for your children, too.
- Tell someone your problem. Think of something that is currently causing you the most stress or displeasure in your life. Make sure you voice this to someone else, and make a plan for making it better. It always makes me feel better just to voice a concern, and this is a great thing to teach your children, too. It took me two years to finally get the surgery I needed to get rid of some pin in my hip, and now that I am recovering, I am so excited to move beyond this problem.
- Take one thing off your list.* Just one thing off your list of things to do each day, or just this week, or this fall. Choose something that you don’t really want to do, like to do, or have to do. Choose something that, upon removing, will allow you to breathe a sigh of relief or feel a loosening of your shoulder muscles. Do not let the guilt creep in. Own this act, and do it out of love for your self! You are setting an example for your children and for the other overwhelmed moms around you.
- Ask one person for help with something. Ask a friend to form a carpool with you, double a recipe, and you’ll double one next week for her family. Ask a neighbor to pick something up at the store for you. Ask a child to take over one of the simple household chores. Ask your partner to take over a household task that you really disdain. Ask a parent to take on one day a month of babysitting. Ask your babysitter to stay an extra hour.
- Give yourself a little nurturing “gift” every day. Fix yourself a cup of hot tea in the afternoon (that’s what I like to do). Put on your favorite luxurious foot creme at night. Wear your favorite blouse. Call a favorite friend. Watch a favorite show. Ask a friend or a spouse for a shoulder rub. Go to bed 30 minutes early with a favorite book. Set your coffee maker for the next morning.
- Take a little break, and listen to a song. To put the quote in your head, watch Blind Rhythm Cornbread and the G-Men sing, “If Mama Ain’t Happy” (get your fryin’ pans ready!) or Tracy Byrd (my favorite line: “She can make July as cold as December.”)
Lowry Manders is a mother of two, music teacher, and popular blogger on her website Mommy Manders.