In the spirit of sharing some thoughts on love, hearts, families and motherhood I thought I’d share three stories on my mind these days I hope they strike a chord and enhance your day and your thoughts about relationships and growth… Valentine’s is full of silly love quotes, cards and flowers – hopefully yours is also filled with some reflection, expression and chocolate!
Can our hearts grow?
When I first met my husband I had a dog – a very cute little dog. In all seriousness I confided in an old friend that I worried about this new man fitting into my life… I told her I just couldn’t imagine loving him as much as my dog.
My new fabulous boyfriend wasn’t super-human but he was ‘the one.’ The dog followed him everywhere; my parents, brother and best friends all adored him. I was just beginning to understand that I really did love him when I approached my friend for advice. I was *really* worried: how do I grow my love and life for him? How do I retain my sense of self and independence and my loyalty to other loved ones (like my dog)? How will I have enough love for him too .
I don’t so much bring this story up to embarrass myself as to illustrate how silly these feelings that I and many women feel when having a baby. I’m not much of a worrier but I did wonder how we could possibly grow to include, let alone envelop, a new baby in our lives. How could we or would we become a family after just being a couple (with a little dog)?
I’m now lucky enough to be married to my super-human, super-loving man and we have three children – and that adorable dog. I *do* admit that the dog doesn’t get the attention or privileges he used to, but I obviously found ways to grow my heart to include my new and growing family.
(The dog is still trying to stay ‘in the picture!)
And what about our husband or partner’s hearts? Can we count on them being able to expand infinitely?
A friend recently confided – while giggling – that when she was pregnant with her first child she was very worried that some of her husband’s love would be taken from her in favor of the baby. She was happy that she knew her husband would be a loving father but worried that a new baby would mean she would lose some of his love. Of course these thoughts seem silly in retrospect – even strange.
Why would we think there’s a limit to a person’s capacity for love? Time is limited and surely we have to make an effort to communicate with and spend time with loved ones. It’s important to acknowledge the limitlessness of love though – it’s the one thing that I think knows no bounds.
The heart can grow and adapt to changing needs. Whether you’re adding a new baby, new partner or relative, a long-lost friend, or even a dog.
A good friend’s father was taken to the hospital last week after fainting and doctors found that his arteries were extremely clogged. They decided that triple bypass surgery was needed – but they also found a strange condition in his heart itself. The arteries that feed it had multiplied on the side of the heart with cleaner outgoing arteries – it had adapted to grow on the healthier side!
Can this be a metaphor to help us understand our ever-changing lives as mothers? It’s normal for things to be out of balance when having a new baby – even if it’s not your first … and especially if it’s not your first. When we’re out of balance or struggling, can we and our love adapt?
There is a lot of talk about trying to maintain balance after you become a mother – Is this possible? How do we prioritize without guilt? I’ve decided the word “Balance” is a faulty goal to aspire to. A day doesn’t pass when I don’t feel guilty for not having done more, loved more, been more gentle or loving. But I accept that. It’s the new normal.
(This pic doesn’t look ‘balanced’ physically or emotionally does it? I’m just doing my best…)
I’ve decided to try to embrace being ‘in the thick of it’ and I feed what is calling out to be fed – my babies, my husband, my business, my self and my soul – on a whim almost. I play it by ear and try to adapt each day. When it doesn’t feel like its working I try to ask for help – “Help! Over here! Send more resources quick!” I ask for a nap, quiet time with one child, a hike or a date.
When we feel needy, it’s important to ask for more love, attention, backrubs and personal time. And to adapt to give it too! When we’re feeling overwhelmed by mothering, sickness, work, responsibilities and anxieties it’s important to acknowledge this to ourselves and our caretakers, parents, children and partners. It’s OK and accepting the challenge helps strengthen us.
Mothering is just one of our ways of loving – it includes loving our selves, partners and helpers, as well as our children. If we let our love flex and adapt to our changing lives, and make changes and choices we believe in we can accept and love ourselves as the best mothers we can be. And I think that’s pretty amazing. Go buy yourself some chocolate already!