How to Know When I've Given Enough
by Sara Lyon
Originally published on Maven Mamas Blog December, 2018
“How do I know when I’ve given enough? How much of me is for me and how much of me is for them? I still ask myself this question and my children are both grown!”
Lisa Spiegel, cofounder of Soho Parenting in New York City is sitting in front of a large group of exhausted new moms – 25 women? 30? So many. And it’s a beautiful Spring day, with light flooding the tastefully feminine space that is The Wing.
A psychologist with over 30 years experience working with families in the transition to parenthood, Lisa is looking into the faces of these women and she is sharing her own musings as a mother. In this moment, I am so grateful for her vulnerability and openness with us because she is the expert and this makes her human, the everywoman.
As a birth educator, doula and prenatal massage therapist, I waded into the pregnancy & birth space long before I was planning pregnancy for myself. By the time I had my own kids, I’d been doling out advice on all manner of things with which I had little to no first hand experience. Thank goodness I’m studious and observant because I regret little of the prose I was paid for in that decade.
Now, five years into my own parenting journey with two children under my care, I still feel much like a novice.
I’m constantly vacillating between expert and failure, rendering me painfully human. It’s exhausting. Hearing Lisa Spiegel share even a sliver of her own still-in-progress process lifted palpable weight off my shoulders.
My take away: there are few “right” answers. And the best answer today is sure to be miles short of your destination tomorrow because the goal posts will constantly move.
My advice as a mother, friend of mothers and doula of mothers-en-route: surf the shifting ground.
Stay connected to the core of your experience so your balance doesn’t waver in the changing tides. And remember that you are the core and the rest of your world is built around you, on top of you.
You must work to build family systems that work for you. This will take effort because you are inventing the wheel.
Say no to over-extension, say yes to help. If you have a partner or a co-parent, let them lead and make mistakes. And be gentle and generous when their way doesn’t work.
Support them in supporting you. And expect them to support you. Make it a given, something granted in your relationship. Again, this will take effort.
Don’t compete for titles of exhaustion - there are no winners. Don’t compete with your friends, and certainly don’t compete with Instagram. Don’t look left, don’t look right, just keep your own wellbeing squarely in your scope.
Check in regularly, daily, and ask yourself how much is for you and how much is for them. Are you depleted? How depleted are you? What do you need? Now go ask for it.
Sara Lyon founded Glow Birth & Body in 2010 as a childbirth educator, doula and massage therapist. Nearly 10,000 clients later, Glow continues to thrive as the preeminent prenatal massage source in the Bay Area with a team of 8 massage therapists specializing in the perinatal period. And Sara’s latest venture, The Birth Deck, is a compilation of 50 super effective comfort techniques for childbirth housed in a deck of cards. Find out more at www.thebirthdeck.com and www.glowbirthandbody.com. Join the conversation on Instagram and Facebook @thebirthdeck