The Greatest Gift My Parents Gave Me

July 12, 2017

This morning when I rolled out my yoga mat, I was not alone. Both of my kids were awake by the time I stepped onto my mat and started to move. Archer was eating breakfast, (if you consider mashing banana and bread together, then sliding the banana-bread paste into your mouth and back out again, eating). Milly was “reading” a book.

About 2 minutes into my practice, Archer started hurling his banana bread paste at me, so I took him out of his seat and let him toddle around with sticky hands. About 3 minutes later, Milly asked if she could lie down next to me on my mat because she wanted to read with the book above her. I scooted over and obliged. Thankfully my mat is extra wide.

For the next 20 minutes, both kids ran around me, sometimes eating bits of food off of the floor, sometimes climbing on me, sometimes leaning on me, sometimes crawling under me.

I kept on practicing.

At one point Milly asked for apple juice. I told her she has to wait until I finished the second side of a sequence of poses I’d just done. She got a little pissy and then calmed down.

I kept on practicing.

And eventually got her apple juice.

And went back to my mat.

This is one of the greatest gifts my parents gave to me.

I’m not taking about patience. I wish they had given me that gift. That’s still something I’m trying to learn.

One of the greatest gifts my parents gave to me is the willingness to share my self-care with my kids. Not just willingness, but desire.

I’ll explain.

When I was growing up, my mom used to work out to Jane Fonda. This was a time of leg warmers, headbands, and chevron patterned leotards. Our TV was in the basement at the time, so when my mom was ready to work out she’d head downstairs. I’d nearly always ask to go. I liked the outfits and the singing (oh, yeah – one of the women working out with Jane sang a song during the workout. It was my favorite part) and it was fun to do the movements. My mom always let me come with her, at least as far as I remember.

Some of my best memories of exercising when I was young are from doing Jane Fonda videos with my mom.

I know workout every other day at home using online videos. Milly almost always does a lot of the workout with me.

I also first learned about meditation from my dad. When I was growing up, my dad had a steady meditation practice. He had a meditation cushion. Sometimes he’d sit in his room and sometimes he’s go sit up in the attic. I remember trying to sit with him a few times, got bored, and needed to get up.

Once I decided to try and sit in meditation. I sat in the chair in our living room. I was chewing gum, like I frequently did as a kid. At some point, I fell asleep. Not sure how long I’d been sitting there with my eyes closed, but needless to say when I woke up I had gum in my hair that required peanut butter to get it out.

I stayed away from meditation for awhile after that, but eventually found my way back. I still think of meditation as sitting with my eyes closed. And still, when sitting for a long time with large groups of people, I am inclined to nod off and suddenly have to jerk my head back up.

I also now have a daily meditation practice, thanks in a large part to my dad.

When I was in high school, my parents used to pay for me to get bodywork done every other week. Our neighbor up the block was a healer. She did massage and zero-balancing and cranial sacral work. I babysat for her on occasion when her kids were still little and when I was older, she taught me some of the basics of massage technique.

It was the gift of regular bodywork that stuck with me, though. The idea that we have the power to heal our muscles through physical touch was a powerful lesson to learn, especially at a time when I felt extremely uncomfortable in my own skin. Sometimes I can apply the healing touch to my own body. Sometimes I require someone with more professional skill. Still, learning that bodywork was not only worthwhile but also valuable, has stuck with me.

I do my own full body massage every morning (using oil and known as abhyanga in Ayurveda) and massage my feet with oil for a few minute each night before I go to bed. And even though I’m not as consistent as I was when my parents were sending me to get massage, I do still go and have plans to work up to once a month.

From a young age, my parents shared their self-care with me. I don’t think they would have called it that. Self-care wasn’t a buzzword in the 80’s and 90’s. Instead, we might call these practices, “things they loved” or “habits they enjoyed” or “actions they took to feel really good.” This is self-care.

Without realizing it, perhaps, my parents raised me with a deep appreciation for self-care. Or maybe they knew what they were doing. I haven’t asked them directly. Although I wasn’t so great at self-care during my mid-late twenties, after I had kids of my own, I swung back around to a deep need for practices that make ME feel good. Parenting is draining. No matter how much I love my kids, I need reminders that I love myself, too.

This is where self-care comes in.

I had to rediscover practices that I enjoyed and build time into my life to make them a daily or weekly reality.

Since my kids are nearly ALWAYS around me, I had 2 choices:

I could resent their presence and get frustrated and angry and give up on the self-care because it’s no fun or not as easy when the kids are around.

I could share it with them.

I’ve actually done both.

I highly recommend the latter.

It doesn’t always work smoothly. Sometimes Archer is awake during my meditation practice and crawls all over me. Sometimes Milly doesn’t want to do yoga or gets tired when she tries to exercise. Sometimes it’s a lot of effort just to keep them entertained while I’m doing something just for me.

And yet, this is why I persist.

I want to share with my kids the necessity of self-care.

What most parents want for their kids is a successful, happy future. Many parents focus on making sure their kids do well in school, have fun activities, make time for friends to try and ensure they get into a good college so they can have a good job or have healthy relationships as adults.

I want these things for my kids, too but I don’t think those are the only keys to a happy, healthy adult life.

If I can share my healthy habits and self-care rituals with my kids, I can show them how to take good care of themselves when they’re old enough to be on their own.

Teaching them how to truly listen to their body cues and interpret their own needs is another way to ensure a bright, healthy, successful future.

Too often, we get so wrapped up in the perfect ways to parent our kids that we show them what rundown, depleted, stressed out adulthood looks like. They grow up expecting this because we teach them that adulthood is exhausting and stressful.

I want to show my kids what healthy, satisfying, happy adulthood looks like.

So I make time for the things that light me up.

I share my self-care with my kids

It’s not always perfect. It’s not always ideal. But it’s one of the greatest gifts I believe I can give my kids.

Note: This is also the exact reason why I create self-care programs for busy moms. Our kids are like sponges. They soak up everything. I want them to soak up the habits of a mama who takes good care of herself, not the behaviors of a mama who is constantly depleted, stressed, and overwhelmed by life.

If you want this, too, I have lots of cool programs for you to join including my signature programConscious Healthy Mama EssentialsNext group begins July 16thClick to join and create habits you want to pass on to your kids!

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