It’s Saturday afternoon, and I’m writing this as Riley plays. It’s rare that I can do things while watching him, and my mind is occupied with the many things I could choose to be doing instead of sitting here, typing.
It’s hard to achieve a sense of balance at the best of times, and I think being a parent throws this into sharp relief; not only do I need to meet the immediate needs of my child (soon to be children!), but it’s important for both of us that I prioritise my needs as well (especially as the familial relationship is the first education a child has, and forms a large part of an individual’s mental schema; it’s important to learn about the self in healthy context with others).
I’m trying to get better at identifying my needs, and meeting these as a priority. This kind of self-care does not come naturally for me- I tend to take care of those around me first, or to tend to other external matters, before getting to the things I need to do for myself (even for my body – like going to the bathroom when I need to, or showering daily!).
So the question I’ve been asking lately is, “What do I need in this moment?”. It’s remarkable how difficult it can be to answer with confidence. Should I, for example, rest when my child is resting (sage wisdom!) or do something more (intellectually, creatively, spiritually) engaging? Should I get to the washing, or leave it for a little bit longer? [etc. etc. etc.]
Part of the problem I’ve had in finding clarity is due to feeling like I’ll make the wrong choice and regret it, or that there are other, more important, more life-giving choices I could be making at the same time. Like two roads diverging, sometimes (often!) I can only travel one.
But I’m trying to embrace this sense of trying, (for better or worse) to just pick something. Right now, for example, Riley’s finished what he was working on, and is asking for me (vaguely – he’s bored). So, while I could have done other things (like writing that letter I’ve been wanting to write all week – thank you, dear friend, for your love and patience) I’m choosing to embrace the process of allowing myself to maybe waste an opportunity – in the hope that I’ll take more of them from now on.
I hope you get the chance to do the same!