By Natalie Roberts-Mazzeo, Writer, speaker and founder of Miracle Mama
Many mothers will tell you they are tired, exhausted, overwhelmed, time poor and feel an overall lack of energy in many areas of their life. Even more so, if they are a special needs mama.
This was my reality on repeat, especially after attending over 300 hospital appointments, hundreds of therapies, and years of broken sleep. I hear you and I see you.
Yet I want to share with you a shift in perspective that I’ve had. ‘Putting yourself last, does not equate to putting others first’. Not only do your loved ones get the stressed out version of you, they get the watered-down version of you, instead of the most optimal, present, and energised part of you.
My daughter has a host of complex medical conditions that inhibit her ability to walk and talk along with many other challenges, so what she really needs is a mum who is focusing on her own health, so she can continue to provide the high level of care her beautiful daughter needs. Our motherhood journey is different, in many cases our beautiful children are dependent on us for all the days of their life. Self-care saves:
- it saves any further health complications
- it saves our energy from being depleted
- it saves our daughters growing up thinking that taking care of themselves as mothers is selfish
- it saves our stress levels
- it saves our health and wellbeing and so much more.
So why do we continue to put ourselves last when we innately know the incredible benefits it provides?
I learnt the hard way and ended up in hospital with an operation that could have been avoided entirely, had I looked after myself. Then, on top of that, I ended up in an ambulance with some post-surgery complications.
That time was a major wake-up call for me and realisation that, yes, my motherhood journey was challenging but things needed to change or else I was heading for burnout.
I also understood that, yes, raising a warrior with a multiple serious diagnosis would require a lot of me – emotionally, physically and spiritually, but with the right self-care supports in place, it really could be a miraculous journey ahead.
I could list all the medical research that highlights the serious health dangers for special needs mothers when they don’t take action on their own health. Yet, you don’t need any more worries to add to your list.
Instead you just need to take action.
Why do we experience guilt for nourishing ourselves and taking ultimate care of ourselves? Whose story are we listening to anyhow? I hope it’s not Google, because when I Googled the definition of a good mother, this is what came up: “A good mother is a selfless, loving human who must sacrifice many of their wants and needs for the wants and needs of their children. A mother works hard to make sure their child is equipped with the knowledge, skills and abilities to make it as a competent human being.” (Google)
No thanks, that’s not the kind of message I want my daughters to hear, instead I hope they understand that when a woman nourishes herself, she nourishes the world. We, as mothers and special needs mamas move mountains for our children, so let’s start to change that old story and replace it with of putting ourselves alongside those we care for, not last, so we can live our best life yet – as women, as mothers, all over the world.