Amazing Parents

Sometimes it\’s AMAZING. Sometimes it\’s just A MAZE.

Make me happy

I think everybody’s heard the old phrase “Ain’t nobody happy if Mama ain’t happy.” And we laugh about it, sure. But stop and think about it. Mama has a lot to do. She is the person who plans the whole household with meal charts, grocery lists, and calendars full of appointments to keep. She washes and folds your underwear and makes sure your socks don’t have holes. She wraps up wounds, but even before that she makes sure they never happen to begin with. She sweats over the stove in the summer and bakes sweet breads in the winter. Mama knows all your secrets. She believes in all your dreams. And she loves you even still. Yep, that’s Mama.

So what happens to the family unit when Mama is overwhelmed and exhausted and frustrated and alone? Is she able to really be present with her kids and meet them where they are, fill their needs as they are having them, smother them with her sweet affection? Probably not. Because her window of stress tolerance will be too full to take on anything else. So what can mama do to open up her window? Well, here are some things I like to do when I’m stressed out.

First of all, let me just say that it has taken me a long time to realize that my emotional health is vital to my kids’ emotional health. I mean, it seems simple enough. I realize that part. But it’s the actual follow through that I was stuck with. It was hard for me to take time to meet my own needs, or to spend the money on me, or whatever it was. I was just so caught up and overwhelmed with taking care of everybody else that it was hard to even see what my needs were. But one day I found that imaginary line of where the kids end I begin, and it was then that I decided to change things. I had to decide that day that I was important, that my window of stress tolerance was important. And not just to me, but to my family. In fact, it was not just my privilege to care for myself, it was my responsibility to show myself the same amount of love and respect and attention that I expend everyday on everybody else. That is my responsibility. And doing that will make my kids feel more loved. Because, like we always say, “Ain’t nobody happy if Mama ain’t happy”. And here is how I make me happy.

– I call my friend Nelly and ramble about nothing anybody else would listen to.
– I jump on the big trampoline outside that I had originally purchased for my kids, but now have claimed as my own.
– I write.
– I drive to the beach and put my bare feet in the sand while sipping a latte I bought on the way.
– I count my blessings.
– I listen to music on my new Ipod touch.
– I ride my bike around this little town, pulling the kids in the trailer behind me.
– I take a really hot “showther” (which is a shower where I sit down and put in the plug).
– I buy a fashion magazine and sit in bed to read it cover to cover.
– I eat a tiny bit of something that is not that good for me, but I relish every bite.
– I meditate on my spiritual beliefs.
– I do my hair in a way I’d never usually wear out in public, and wear it like that all day long around the house.
– I rent a gushy romance movie that my son would make fun of.
– I visit the Consciously Parenting Project forums and connect to other parents who “get it”.
– I make what I want for dinner, even if nobody else really likes it.
– I sit silently and feel my body just being alive.

What types of things do you do to regulate yourself and open up your window of stress tolerance? And how long ago did you realize you were worth it?


May 9, 2008 - Posted by | A New Paradigm


  1. You’re way ahead of the game. It took me 45 years to realize that I am worth some pampering, some personal goals, some just-for-me hobbies, some I-don’t-care-what-anybody else-thinks moments, and as much unconditional love as I can surround myself with.

    Even though you and your brother are adults now, empty-nest mothers sometimes need de-stressing activities, too, because we somehow fill our schedules right back up again.

    To relax, I listen to my ipod, read for pleasure, take vacations, web surf, watch chick flicks, hang out with my girlfriends, get manicures and pedicures, eat chocolate and drink champagne.

    Comment by your mom | May 9, 2008 | Reply

  2. That’s a very valuable lesson Bethany! The first time I heard it (clearly) was in a Six Feet Under TV episode. I was actually shocked because it sounded so selfish! Taking care of yourself FIRST? I was brought up on a healthy dose of sacrifice. But what I didn’t see is that to take care of others one really needs to take care of your own reserves first. And then there is something to give to others.

    To relieve stress I read. Watch movies. SLEEP. Talk to friends and family (not necessary about the stress itself- just talking). Dance. Exercise. Listen to music. Pray.

    Comment by danny | May 9, 2008 | Reply

  3. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Strongbox!!

    Comment by Strongbox | June 22, 2008 | Reply

  4. The point is only this: take care of yourself. For mothers that is often a hard thing to do. Especially for a mother of an attachment-challenged child. We are exhausted both physically and emotionally, and often there just isn’t enough time/energy in the day for the extra task.

    But we now know that regulation comes through relationship. That means that if a mother feels a sense of calm or well-being, her children will pick up on that and begin to feel it himself. Until you really become of aware of your own needs and actually begin to fill them, you don’t realize how important it is and what an impact it can have on those around you.

    Fill yourself up and then you have more to give to others.

    Comment by amazingparents | July 6, 2008 | Reply

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