One of the greatest challenges as a parent is claiming time to spend on ones self. The busy-ness of caring for and nurturing a growing child, maintaining a happy relationship with your partner and seeing to the everyday tasks of running a household is enough to consume most of anyone’s time.
We often create a life so full of every one around us that when we do have a bit of space we could spend on ourselves, we have no energy left to pursue it. Hence begins a very vicious circle in which the loser is not only our selves but those closest to us – our children, partners, family and friends.
Whilst having an abundant life, full to the brim of wonderful activity and people, is a blessing in itself, we are in danger of sabotaging the true experience of this time if we don’t create space to reflect, reenergise and nurture ourselves.
As the year 2003 rolled in, I watched the fire works and made a promise to myself to create this space in my life. This was a space that I nurtured so diligently during my pregnancy and preparation for birth, as the energy to create and claim this spiritual ground was high. During the last nineteen months of my son’s life however, this space seems to have been consumed with giving my all to parenting. The truth of the matter however is that I am unwittingly sabotaging my efforts. By not giving myself this time I am slowing chipping away at the essence of my being – the charge that gives me direction, passion and energy.
Creating time for ourselves allows us to just be, to nurture our inner being and recharge our souls. It is vital as parents that we find time and space to nurture ourselves as the constant giving to others requires someone who is fully fueled herself. Otherwise the giving becomes empty and invites resentment and lack of conviction.
In continuing to pursue my new year’s promise, I soon realised that in order to create a space I also needed to let go. It was a duel action that required both making a claim and letting go at the same time. Here lies within yet another challenge and as heart felt as the first. I needed to let go of my son in way that he felt secure and happy so that I could create the space I needed. I am in the fortunate position to have a supportive partner, family and friends who constantly offer an open hand. I just needed to take it. While in theory this all sounded fine, quite simple really. In reality I found it hard to let go.
What was making me resist so strongly? Why was I feeling guilty for needing space? As parents we bring with us a life time of experiences and conditioning that are unrealistic to just shake and leave behind. We have our ideals that we aspire to and it is often hard to compromise these. But the realisation that life is a journey of growth and new learning allows us to make the necessary changes to ensure we remain relevant and on track for our families and ourselves. To stagnant in timeless notions of right and wrong parenting disallows for new understanding and wisdom as we walk alongside our greatest teachers – our children.
In the end the question becomes not about how hard is it to create this space, but rather how important is it to do it. If I place high priority on this time, it will happen. If I do not I create a life void of this time. Quite frankly, I realised I can not afford not to create this space.
Shale Paul in the Warrior Within (1983) makes the following statement:
“It takes courage to demand time for yourself. At first glance, it may seem to be the ultimate in selfishness, a real slap in the face to those who love and depend on you.
It means you care enough to want to see the best in yourself and give only the best to others.
It is silent recognition that your obligation to them is to give your best, and nothing less. “
Our most precious resource as parents is time. Let’s claim ours so that we may grow more fully as human beings, be better parents and partners in parenting.