Letters from a Learning Mother

Sailing Through The Storms

I’m in the middle of so many projects right now — most with the end goal of making our home an even more enjoyable place to be. 

I wanted to clean up our front entryway, finally deal with the piles of clothes lying around in our bedroom, respond to a few messages that have been sitting in my inbox for a while and possibly reorganize all of the cupboards in our kitchen. If you have kids of your own, you’ll know that those goals were not realistic for a Monday with my two-and-a-half-year old and nine-month-old, who currently prefers to be attached to my hip than anywhere else.

All my plans got thrown overboard this morning as I was pulling out something for Lucy to wear, and a moth flew out of her onesie drawer. 

It was third one I’d seen this week after several months without them eating tiny holes through some of our favorite clothes like they did in November, which was enough to send me into an inner frenzy of wanting to do nothing but spend the rest of the day deep cleaning and vacuuming every nook and cranny of our 18th century home, getting rid of as many articles of clothing as possible before washing the rest. 

Instead, I gathered myself enough to sit down to eat some breakfast with my littles and explain to my son what was going on while I sliced some bread, most likely with a strained look on my face.

“Momma, you STRESSED!” Ellis stated.

I agreed.

“Momma, you eat your bread,” he continued. “Then you feel good again.”

I managed a half-smile, then thought for a minute before honestly responding, “I do need to eat, that’s true. That might make me feel a little bit better. But I think it would be really good for me to get out of the house for a while. Should we head down to the river after we finish our breakfast?” 

Ellis thought it was a good idea.

About thirty minutes later, I was sitting on a rock and dipping my bare feet in the cool, clear water, listening to the splashes my son was extremely proud to create as he sent stones of all sizes soaring into the river, while I soaked up the sweet sensation of my daughter’s chest rising and falling in steady rhythm as she slept in her carrier. 

In that peaceful moment, after I had caught my breath and my restless thoughts had stopped churning, something crossed my mind that I have a feeling will stick with me for quite some time.

“Alyssa, if you want to make your home an even more enjoyable place to be, the best thing you can do is to make yourself even more enjoyable to be around.” 

I knew that it couldn’t be more true.

People talk a lot about self-care and its importance. We’ve heard of the phrase “emotional regulation” and want our kids to somehow be able to master it. Yet, I find myself sometimes self-medicating my own tension by scrolling and story-ing or sneaking in bites of chocolate throughout my more stressful days, subconsciously hoping that a quick buzz might lift me out of whatever heaviness I’m really feeling. 

Self-care is so much more than long, luxurious baths and spending money on things that make us feel pretty. Honestly, my should-have-been-washed-yesterday hair and I could definitely use some more of that in this season of my life, but taking care of myself doesn’t only mean prioritizing showers.

Self-care is really hard work sometimes. Just as anything long-lasting does, it requires effort to dig a bit deeper to uncover the lies, unhealthy patterns and thought processes we carry inside so we can heal and replace them with truth. But if we want our children to learn healthy ways to deal with their inner storms, we have to start by actually teaching them — not just showing them how to take deep breaths during THEIR moments, but by authentically modeling the way we manage our own.

I never ended up checking anything off of my original to-do list today. After our trip to the river, we walked home for lunch before heading out again for an afternoon of bike riding and flower picking. 

I plan on finally taking that shower to wash the sweat from my sun-kissed skin once my babes are asleep and am aiming to go bed early tonight myself, knowing I’ll be in a much better state to handle my home’s moths and messes when I wake up in the morning. But as for today, I had things far more important to do. 

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