Assuming you’re a mother, you’re probably no stranger to the following chain of events:
Maybe this is you. Or maybe you’ve graduated from this phase, you’re finally advocating for your needs and getting time alone on the regular, and you’re still having a hard time accessing creativity, making much progress on your projects, or tapping into divine nourishment and connection.
I’m here to tell you something, dear mother:
There are plenty of reasons you’re not “making the most of” your alone time, and your personal inadequacy is not one of them.
Here’s what I’ve learned not only by experiencing decades of seemingly self-sabotaged alone time, but by bearing witness to hundreds of smart, passionate, intentional clients who also happen to be mothers in the thick of it:
We aren’t sabotaging our alone time. It just seems that way because the true causes of our frustratingly “unproductive,” precious few hours alone are–like so many other suboptimal maternal realities–hidden beneath the lie that there’s something wrong with us. Here’s a start toward a truer story:
Obviously, pandemic parenting both amplifies the need for time away and makes meeting this need more challenging than ever. However, I believe we’re experiencing not only one of the most collectively stressful but potentially transformative times modern-day mothers have yet to endure.
I believe that our country’s care crisis (and its effects on maternal health and empowerment) is irrefutable in a way that wasn’t as obvious pre-pandemic.
I believe that this is a critical and potent time in history, when so much is being revealed and illuminated, both around and within us, and that we have a TON to gain as mothers, in the long run, if we can stay focused on the following:
The Buddhist metaphor of the second arrow comes to mind when I think of mamas beating themselves up for not using their alone time ”efficiently.” The shitty reality (in this case, the circumstances making it so challenging to meet our needs) is the first arrow. First arrows are the challenging events, the triggers, and/or the tough realities of our lives which cause us stress, anxiety, and pain. Second arrows come from the reactions we have to and/or the meaning we make of the shitty circumstances. When our reaction to the reality of our “unproductive” alone time is to beat ourselves up for being “inefficient” or “lazy,” we are launching a second arrow at ourselves.
Allow me to block that second arrow for you…
You’re not sabotaging your alone time, mama. You’re doing the best you can under seriously suboptimal circumstances. The fact that it’s hard to meet your needs right now doesn’t mean you’re not worthy of having them met, and it certainly doesn’t mean your big dreams aren’t worth dreaming.
You are SO worthy, and your dreams are absolutely worth dreaming (even if, for a time, they are constantly interrupted).
We can’t always control being hit by the first arrows of life. But by refusing to launch second arrows at ourselves, we dramatically decrease the number of wounds we’re operating from, which preserves more of our strength for creating a world where first arrows are less prevalent, too.
With fierce love and tender reverence for all you mamas everywhere,
*Photo credit goes to the amazing Jote Khalsa.