I have been wanting to sign up for Mommy Mundo’s Mindful Moms Re-treat ever since it started. However, I always had conflict of schedules with the previous sessions. So when I saw the last run for this year, I grabbed the opportunity and signed up for the afternoon session because, being the nocturnal person that I am, I could not pull myself off the bed to move so early in the morning. LOL!
I was so happy that I was able to attend because this is what I needed at this point in time as I am feeling burnt out already. I’ve been doing so much in so little time that I was no longer getting anything done at all. I’m already exhausted but I still keep pushing because at the back of my mind, I needed to do this. I think I programmed myself this way. LOL! But really, this was the breather that I needed.
Back when I was still single (I mean, not yet a Mom), I was spending way too much time at work but afterwards, I would spend so much on myself – massage spa sessions, lots and lots of coffee sessions, drinking sessions on weekends, random and impulsive shopping and all that. Those activities seem so normal that I’ve never really given it much thought. I had the resources and I had the time so why not, right? But when I became a Mom, I no longer find time to do these really simple things. My days are now divided between my job, my son, my household and all other myriads of things that I needed to take care of. I have been working myself too much I have already been feeling the stress getting to me and could no longer be ignored.
Let’s admit it, being a Mom, we always want to give our everything to our family. Unfortunately, we always forget to leave a little something for ourselves. We worry about our kids too much, we always make sure that our family is properly fed and dressed, we always give them the things that they deserve, we always make sure our houses are clean and tidy and organized and worthy of an Instagram post, we manage the family’s finances, we train the house helps to do certain things that way we wanted things to be done and if it is not to our satisfaction, we re-do all the things they did while muttering under our breath that we are wasting our time. LOL! This may or may not be an exaggeration but really, once we become a Mom, we tend to be perfectionists. Right? And not only that, we have mastered being a multitasking perfectionist.
But there lies the first issue. In the midst of juggling all the million little things that we’ve set to accomplish, where do we leave ourselves? Do we have time to dedicate just for us, moms? Do we give ourselves a few minutes to just breathe and smell the roses, so to speak? To listen to our own thoughts and not thinking about the list of to-do things that we have yet to tick off the list?
Why are we in a hurry?
This was a powerful quote that made an impact to me personally. For the past several years, I have forgotten to slow down. I always have this invisible timeline that I needed to follow – a timeline that was actually impossible to stick to since I never gave myself room for delays. Unfortunately, the more that I try to do the things in my list, I never accomplished anything in a manner that I wanted those things to be done. In short, I was always in a hurry, I was always cramming, I had plan A but always wanted to have plans B to Z as back ups, just in case plan A messes up (which really doesn’t, 98% of the time). I have been creating unnecessary stress for myself and it doesn’t help the people around me. Why was I hurrying? It was a question asked during the workshop. Why, indeed? Damn if I knew.
Of image and perfection
I mentioned perfection. As Moms, we never want to hear any negative feedback from anyone else regarding anything that would reflect back to us. We always want to have that picture-perfect-all-clean-and-sparkly house, perfectly dressed kids, perfectly prepared meals. We always aim for perfection for everything that we do for our family. And then we see someone else being better at what we do and then we ask, “how to be you?”. We envy people that do better housekeeping that we do, dresses their kids to the nines for just a walk in the park and all that (yes, exaggeration, but you get the picture). And then we try to emulate those people and when we fail, we penalize ourselves for failing. But one thing we forget is that every person has something they are good at and there are things that they are not good at. This applies to moms, too. Instead of asking how to be someone else, why can’t we ask ourselves how to be us instead? Why don’t we try to see the things that we are good at and give ourselves a pat on the back for being good at something?
As they say, no one is perfect. So as individuals, we have to accept that we are not perfect, that there are things that we are not good at, that some people are better at some things than we are. And if we learn to accept our own imperfections, it will be easier to be mindful and tolerant about the imperfections of our family and other people or circumstances.
Why are we setting very high standards for ourselves anyway that, at the back of our minds, we know that we will fail?
Going back to square one
Back in high school, we had to write an essay entitled, “Who am I?”. Back then, I thought it was just an activity. This should be a question that we ask ourselves every so often to gauge where we are in life. When I was not yet a Mom, I didn’t really think of asking myself this question. There were a few times that I did but pushed it back to the darkest corners of my brain. And I think by doing so, I started to lose a little bit of myself in the process. There was a time when all I knew was work and trying to build a career that even my Mom was worrying about me. She kept on scolding me and reminding me that I am not a machine.
We need to spend some time to get to know ourselves. To reconnect, to touch base, to ask ourselves if we are still okay. Being a Mom is already tough so let’s not make it a lot tougher by forgetting who we are and trying to emulate other people’s lives. We really won’t be happy in the end.
I once come across a quote that says, “Learn to love yourself for you to be able to love others.” Or something to that effect. If we don’t know how to love ourselves, how can we say that we love others? How can we say that we love our kids, our husbands, our family, our friends, when we don’t even know how to love ourselves?
We need to stop, take in a deep breath, sit back, relax and smell the roses. Even if that would only be for 5 minutes. Leave the pile of laundry, leave the dishes in the sink and go for a walk or get a manicure and/or pedicure. Go get that well-deserved massage. Get your hair done. If you have the budget, go buy something for yourself and not feel guilty about it.
We need to learn how to not feel guilty for giving ourselves a well-deserved treat once in a while. We need to learn how not to lose ourselves in all the checklists that we have. Once in a while, we need to take off the Mommy hat and wear the Me hat so we can reconnect with who we really are. We need to learn to appreciate our strengths and not dwell on what we are not good at. We need to give ourselves a pat on the back for achieving even the smallest of accomplishment because after all, it is still an accomplishment. Let’s learn to be easy on ourselves. We make mistakes, yes, but we need not crucify ourselves for not being able to cook a perfect omelet in the morning. Besides, we know how to perfectly iron that white uniform that our kids wear to school. As Scarlet O’Hara said in Gone With The Wind, “After all… tomorrow is another day”. We have tomorrow to practice and hone the skills that we want to learn and be good at. But we also need to remember to stop comparing ourselves to others. Because nothing good will ever come out of it anyway.
At the end of the workshop, we were given a homework. Three vision boards that will help determine who we are for us to appreciate what we have and what we are capable of, what we want to achieve, and what are plans will be. Apart from that, I have been reviewing the activity sheets that we have done during the workshop and trying to list down more and making a clearer picture of what my roadblocks are, what I envision for my family, who am I at this point in time and I am including the changes from who I thought I was before.
The workshop has actually given me a starting point and I am now trying to find me again in all the chaos of my everyday life. It’s not going to be an easy process. It will be a long, painful and tedious process but I know and I truly believe that if I am able to finish this, I will be able to handle everything else in a better way.
Right now, I am trying to answer the question, “how to be me?” instead of “how to be you?”. I am listing down the things that I am good at because it seems that I am good at something. I am trying to spend a few minutes just to stare at the ceiling thinking of nothing when I wake up. I am starting to set realistic goals for each week. And I am now trying to find time to spend with just myself – not thinking about work, not thinking about finances, not thinking about housework, but just thinking about me.
The Mindful Moms Re-treat has given more than what I expected. So many learnings, so many realizations, so many opportunities that I was able to take away from the 3-hour session. And I would definitely recommend this to every Moms out there. Because, seriously, we all need this!🙂
With Ms. Ichel Santos Aglinay – Registered Guidance Counselor and Parenting, Relationship, and Family Life Specialist and one of Mommy Mundo’s resident experts who facilitated the workshop