These last couple of weeks have included a lot of baby time with friends and relatives sharing their delicious new arrivals. It is wonderful to see these friends experiencing the initial amazing glow of parenthood and getting to squeeze the heck out of those little babies. (I’m more gentle than I sound, I swear!)
That being said, babies can also be super, super challenging (as I well know). Despite that juxtaposition of emotions, though, there is an overwhelming glow of love that is hard to be matched. It is in that moment that we know we would do anything (anything!) for that little person. There is absolutely nothing they could do to ‘break’ that.
The language that is used, both physically and verbally and the mannerisms that every adult spills into- smiling, coos, and that cutesy baby voice- it’s all jam packed with unconditional love and adoration.
Simply said- babies are rad. They are perfect and wonderful and just as they should be. We never look at our baby and think ‘look at those chunky thighs- better start a stricter workout regime’ or ‘man, my baby still isn’t crawling- why is s/he so lazy?’
So now imagine yourself as being the baby. When you think about what you say to your ‘baby'(your internal dialogue), what does it say? Does it speak of unconditional love and acceptance? Is it gentle and kind? Or full of criticism and self-loathing?
If somebody said these same words your child, how would you feel? Would you be ready to fight back and protect them in all of their perfectness?
So why not us? Why can’t we love ourselves as we love these little babies of ours? Why don’t we have this same gentle, accepting way of looking at ourselves as a whole instead of a collection of attributes- mostly flaws? Why can’t we tell our inner dialogue to buzz off?
And beyond our own internal struggles, can’t we see that when we critique the way we look or the ‘problems’ with ourselves we are teaching our children to do the same? That when we criticize our abilities and limit our opportunities we are teaching our children that it is important to put everybody else before themselves, even if it means limiting personal growth and satisfaction. Why is it so widely accepted that it is ‘holy’ to sacrifice yourself for those you love?
Let me challenge that belief. In the midst of my personal journey, perhaps the biggest lesson I learned is how to love myself again. And it involved taking care of myself first. When I was at my darkest spot and could barely see my way out, I most definitely did NOT love myself. I didn’t meet my own personal needs, and I certainly didn’t send myself loving messages.
As a result, I was most definitely NOT the best mom. Not the best wife, friend, or person in general. I wasn’t fun, spontaneous, or even really happy. I was a poor example to my kids. I was stressed, crabby and I snapped easily. I was empty. Sucked dry.
This moment when I took action- signed up for the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to respect my needs for growth, learning, and self love- this was the moment when my life changed. I spent a lot of money that we didn’t really have on something without a clear outcome and it was the BEST thing I ever did.
Complete transformation doesn’t happen overnight, but my life began to change immediately and has taken on a completely different trajectory than I ever dreamed possible. And it is beautiful.
I am not perfect- but I am perfectly imperfect- and I am happy with that. I am clear on who I am and what I want, and I am pursuing my dreams. There is no better gift that I feel I can give my children than the support of discovering and pursuing their dreams and that starts with my example.
So now the challenge- how are you going to love the crap out of yourself? Love yourself so completely and unconditionally (like a baby) that you can recognize that you are just as you should be (not lacking in anything)? Listen to the voices you have- are they the parent you want to be to your children? Because babies are rad. And so are you!