Recently I saw this interview with Jada Pinkett Smith and her daughter. Willow asked:
“How hard is it being a wife and mother?”
Jada began on how these roles are such a paradox and balancing them even more of one. I love that moment when you hear something from someone like Jada, in a position of abundance and “having it all”, say exactly how you feel in a flawless but revealing and comforting way. It closes the gap between us. Not that I need to hear that Jada struggles. But knowing we share this balancing act is in it’s own paradoxical way, refreshing. Her answer to her daughter on how to manage it, is also a bit of a paradox. Take time for yourself.
I hear this advice constantly. But no one REALLY shows you how to do it. I sat with this for a while and asked myself a lot of questions. How come it’s hard? Why can’t I enjoy taking time for myself? I understand it’s vital for my emotional well-being to “take care of myself”. But the whole while I will have to fight within myself that feeling of guilt. Taking a long bath was once, in the past, a pleasurable experience. Now I sit in there and think “I hear her crying I should jump out and help.” Is it really just about getting a bath in or having time to read a book? I think it’s much more.
The thing that I found striking about Willow’s question was neither of these roles, wife and mother are self-actualized. Women wear many hats. These roles predominately come from our relationship to another human being(s). To love thyself can not come from my relationship to others. It’s how I see myself and show up. Wife and mother are roles that I have because of situations I chose. I am happy to have them, believe me. But that does not make me my own person. What then do I do if I, say, don’t have a job? How do I define myself? Where can I accomplish my self-actualization outside of my marriage and motherhood?
This is where I think she is going in this interview. Jada spikes up about how we see mothers in the US and, I would add the world over, that we have to “completely sacrifice everything”. It’s a huge job, indeed. But fulfillment can not be through others as she so well explains. Jada continues that if we don’t take time for ourselves (mothers and wives) then we will put that on to our relationships and children. I believe taking care of ourselves is then MORE than a bathtub and a good book. It’s really knowing who you are deeply. Cherishing that person wholly. And honoring the things you love to do and doing them!
I say often to friends, clients, and family, “We were people, (individuals), before we got married and had children.” We can’t go back and be that now but we can choose to have some of that individuality celebrated in our full lives. The key is reminding yourself of what makes you shine, who are you inside and making time for that person. When you become happier by embracing who you are, you will ultimately radiate that out to your family and others. This makes taking care of yourself sound more empowering and a necessity rather than a self indulgence. Afterall, we all are here for a purpose.