“When I stopped seeing my mother with the eyes of a child, I saw the woman who helped me give birth to myself.”
– – – – Nancy Friday
As a psychologist, I encounter a lot of women going through the phase in life known as “Empty Nest.” When children grow older, and leave to live as adults, I believe that every mother experiences ‘loss’ in some way. So, as young mothers embark on their journey, I believe the key to surviving this life change is nurturing one’s self, as an individual, as well as a mother.
How would you describe yourself? How long would your list of traits be? Motherhood is a gift that comes with a lot of responsibility and joy. However, it is a new piece to the puzzle that already exists. It should not replace you, as a woman, but enhance the woman you already are. It can be easy to get wrapped up in your kids, and forget about yourself, but try to remember that children learn so much from a mom who can share a variety of interests with them.
We all have heard the phrase “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. Many mothers teach their children this lesson by getting them involved in many different things. Even colleges now look for the most “well-rounded” applicant versus their grade-point average. However, as women enter motherhood, they forget to apply this philosophy to themselves. Yes, the age old concept of “Do as I say, not as I do”. Well we all know that secret – it doesn’t work.
It is amazing, to me, when I hear the excitement and interest in my 4 year-old daughter’s voice as she wants to learn more about me. I am a part-time psychologist and full-time mother. So, after a day of work, my daughter and I will lay in her bed, read a bedtime story and talk about her day.
I usually start by asking her about her day at school and she always says “First tell me about work. What did you do today?” What she understands about my job is that I am a doctor who helps people feel better when they are sad. She gets inspired by my stories and soon I am hearing how she wants to be a doctor, wants to try the foods that I like, wants to listen to the music I like and wants to try new things that I like.
Think about the questions your children ask you. What is your favorite color? What song do you like best? What do you like to do? If you really listen you will find that your children want to know more than whether or not you make them dinner. You can present a well-rounded person to them. They want to know you. In order to teach your children about yourself, you need to hold onto your identity.
So to say it simply the key to being a great MOTHER, is being a great WOMAN!
Dr. Darlene Davis Link is a licensed psychologist and proud mother of 3 year old Kayla and 1 year old Owen. She has a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology and has been working with children, adults and couples for 10 years. Her training includes work with at risk youth and their families, women’s issues, relationship issues, stress and anger management and mental illness. In addition, she has presented at several conferences on the impact, treatment and prevention of eating disorders.