Devotion: One Mother's Perspective
By Deborah L Shipley
As I gently wake in the morning to the sun's first subtle peek through my dark bamboo shades, I turn onto my left side and a smile quickly overtakes the corners of my mouth. My senses are filled with my precious child, peacefully slumbering, and perhaps dreaming of a day filled with new discoveries and adventures. Moments such as these offer me a sense of contentment that all is perfect in the moment.
If only I had known that my heart would be captured by this amazing being that I brought into the world only three short years ago.
If only I had known the passionate feelings that this tiny soul would inspire in me, welling up in my heart and permeating every inch of me.
This motherly devotion, this motherly love.
Devotion is defined as the ardent, often selfless, affection and dedication to a person or principle. This definition does not begin to describe the actual feelings that motherhood has inspired in me- and countless others.
But as with everything, devotion may carry a darker side than the beauty of ardent, selfless love. The dharma of motherly devotion, not coupled with the devotion to self, will ultimately lead to the loss of one's spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being. The mothers are not the only one who suffer. The children do as well.
As a mother, I have learned the value of one's time. If I had only known the incredible commitment involved in nurturing a child before embarking on the journey of parenthood. Would I have spent more time in meditation and personal development, rather than reaching for the remote control and lazily yawning, rather bored with my existence? Would I have spent an extra hour at the bookstore, gratefully perusing the aisles, enjoying the aroma of the bookstore coffee shop, rather than running quickly in and out, and grabbing the book that I was looking for before heading to my next activity?
It is not relevant at this point, but it does cross my mind occasionally.
I certainly wouldn't trade this time in my life for anything, but sometimes I do feel wistful for the "get-up-and-go/do-as-I please me who has clearly been put to rest. I tell people to treasure their time before children because it will never be the same.
I feel very fortunate to have adapted rather easily into my role of motherhood. There are some that I know who have had great difficulty accepting this drastic change in their lifestyle. I did not experience this process as a painful one, but I truly understand the overwhelming nature of parenthood itself and the sense of a loss of freedom.
I have known no greater joy in my life than when I am laughing in unison with my son, nurturing, loving, nourishing, cuddling, kissing boo-boo's, sharing in joy's, and wiping tears, bottoms, and noses. Yet there are moments when I sense my own resistance to motherhood. The sound of my child's call to "Mommy is like nectar to my ears, sweet and filling; so when my ears suddenly begin to sting a bit, I know it is time for self-care.
Devotion-yes, devotion in absence of self-care-not advisable.
I know I may never again have the abundant free time I once did until my child becomes an adult; and that is perfectly okay with me. I also know that in order to be an effective parent, I must take sacred time for myself, even if for a fleeting moment each day.
Self-care can be a myriad of things: Yoga/exercise, meditation/quiet time, nutrition, personal and spiritual development, solitude, time with spouse or friends, hobbies, reading, going to a movie that is silly or feeds the soul, or just plain adult-centered fun. It becomes very challenging to fulfill these desires as a parent, especially in the first few years when the child's needs are so intense. Even as children become more self-proficient, new situations arise that require different parenting skills and a staunch presence in the child's life. The holiday season that is upon us, also becomes especially trying as giving is on everyone's minds and mothers are scrambling to create the perfect holiday for their families. But what about receiving?
The balance is difficult to juggle, but it is an integral part of being a parent.
The airplane analogy to life states that if there is a need for oxygen on the flight, the adult must put a mask on first in order to be capable of assisting children and others. This is true, of course, in life as well. We must feed our souls in order to nurture our children's souls. When I take that important time, even if for just a few minutes, to engage in activities that fill my "adult needs, I come back refreshed and able to be fully present as a parent, open to the love that the devotion of motherhood brings.
Our children will have many teachers in their lives- the first are their parents or care-givers. They learn through so many different methods and senses. The not so obvious method is that of silent observation. They watch, they see, and they absorb habits and qualities that are prominent in their parents. Those qualities may someday prompt a, "Wow, they must have gotten that from me." These are often qualities not realized until we see them in our children. An amazing coach of mine once told me, "If you take care of yourself, your son will know it's okay to take care of himself."
What are your children learning from you? What can self-care bring to your devotion?
Devotion-yes, devotion seasoned with self-care-the most rewarding, amazing experience in my lifetime.
May you all have a joyous, blessed, and devoted holiday season.
About The Author
Copyright 2005 ~ Deborah Shipley is a registered yoga teacher, publisher of a free monthly e-zine on issues of self-esteem, and an e-book author.