Midlife Reinvention Thought Leader: Yvonne Marchese
In the month of May, my thoughts turn to our recent Mother’s Day.
It’s one of those holidays that can be tricky. It’s filled with all the greeting card expectations and yet it so often falls short of living up to those expectations.
Do you ever just want to say “I want my mommy” and poof she’s there, nurturing you and giving you everything you need to feel safe and cherished?
“Either way, you might find yourself in the position of having to “Mother yourself”.”
In The Position Of Having To “Mother Yourself”
As we get older we may not have our mothers around to talk to or to help us through trying times. This could be because they’ve passed on. It could be that the relationship is broken and the rift has never healed.
Either way, you might find yourself in the position of having to “Mother yourself”. But, how does one go about “mothering themselves”?
As I was thinking about this, I came up with a list of some essential things a mother does to help her children grow and become independent. It’s based on my personal experience as a daughter and as a mother so there’s nothing scientific about it. Also, I’m choosing to use the traditional “she/her” pronoun when speaking of Mothers, but I recognize that men can just as easily find themselves taking on the responsibilities of Motherhood.
6 Things A Mother Provides For Her Children In An Ideal World:
(according to me). She:
- Gives them unconditional love while teaching them right from wrong.
- Makes sure they eat healthy food (with occasional treats).
- Makes sure they get enough time for sleep.
- Gives them chores and responsibilities to help them grow.
- Makes sure they have play time alone and with friends.
- Makes them go outside to play and exercise.
I think this list is a good list to start from when you think about re-mothering yourself.
In this era, we tend to live our lives at a breakneck pace, so my first recommendation is to slow down so you can take stock of where you are and where you want to go from here.
First And Foremost, Learn To Give Yourself Unconditional Love:
This is the big kahuna of all the things on the list I made and perhaps the most challenging task. Really, all the other things on the list fall under this first requirement. Self-compassion is key to deeply accepting yourself. It requires vigilance to notice when you’re being unkind to yourself in your thoughts and deeds. Would you talk to a best friend that way?
“Make time each day to slow down and observe your thoughts.”
It requires practicing catching yourself in the act and reframing your thoughts. Meditation and/or journaling can be key in helping you to gain a sense of awareness about the thoughts you’re thinking about yourself. When you become the observer of your thoughts it becomes easier to see those thoughts with some detachment.
When you become the observer, those thoughts have less power over you. Make time each day to slow down and observe your thoughts. If you’re not into journaling or meditation, try going for a quiet walk.
Make Sure You Are Eating Well:
I realize this is no easy task either and I’m certainly not a nutrition expert. I think diet culture has given us a plethora of conflicting advice about what’s best for us. If you’re not happy with your body you might find yourself in a vicious dieting cycle. How’s your self-talk around your body image? Are you obsessing over the parts of your body that you hate? Are you rewarding and punishing yourself with food?
Here’s the thing… All diets work. You can lose weight on any of them, but many times we can’t sustain the extreme requirements of the diets, so we end up “cheating” and going back to old, mindless eating habits. Before we know it we’re back where we started, convinced that we can’t lose weight. It’s another area in which we need to slow down. Maybe the problem isn’t that your body can’t lose weight.
Maybe you’re not allowing time in your schedule for planning and cooking healthy meals, so you end up grabbing the easiest, most convenient food at the moment. This is usually my biggest problem when it comes to making good choices.
Are You Sleeping Enough?
My mom made sure we had a regular bedtime along with a bedtime routine. I used to be a talented sleeper, but now that I’m 54 and post-menopause I really struggle with getting enough sleep. I have found that putting my phone down and getting off screens about an hour before bed really helps.
Do I always do this? No! A good stretch session before bed also gets me in the zone for a good night’s sleep. Do I always do this? No! Night sweats wake me on a regular basis. It can be frustrating to find yourself wide awake in the middle of the night, but I’ve found that if I can distract my mind from getting more and more frustrated I stand a much better chance of getting back to sleep.
“A good stretch session before bed also gets me in the zone for a good night’s sleep.”
When I wake up at 2:30 in the morning I have found that I’m able to get back to sleep if I keep the lights off and do some light stretching to help get rid of the stress my body is holding. When my mind is really racing with worries and to-do lists, I get a pen and a piece of paper and I write a list of what’s on my mind.
Once I’ve written down all the things that are bothering me my brain is able to relax because I’ve captured it on paper and I know I won’t forget. If I still can’t go to sleep, I’ll use a guided sleep meditation and before I know it I’ve drifted off again. It’s a work in progress for sure.
Are You Challenging Yourself To Grow?
I’m thankful that my mom was someone who gave me chores and responsibilities around the house. I didn’t like it then, but I’m grateful now. She cheered me on when I got good grades in school and pushed me to try harder when I didn’t.
Now, I try to do that for myself. When I find myself feeling stuck in a rut or unsatisfied with my life, it’s often because I’ve fallen into a routine of sameness. Whenever I push myself to do something above and beyond what I’ve done before I find a surge of energy.
I think that as long as we’re alive we can be learning and growing. Otherwise, what’s the point of living? Make time to daydream and notice what comes up when you do it. Mothers often notice the little things and hobbies that their kids are interested in and they encourage and nurture those interests. Can you do this for yourself?
Are You Making Time To Play And Building Friendships?
Did you have friends who rang your doorbell to see if you could come out and play when you were a kid? It can be hard to make new friends as we get older, but friendship and companionship is essential to our health and well-being. Studies have shown that loneliness poses health risks as deadly as smoking and heart disease.
“Maybe it’s time to make some friends that are more in tune with who you are now.”
Have we made our lives so busy that we aren’t spending time with friends? It can be hard to nurture friendships when we are all so busy doing all the things that come with careers and raising kids. When our kids leave home, we might find that the people we hung out with while our kids were growing up were actually “friends for a season”. They are people we might not continue to want to spend time with.
Maybe it’s time to make some friends that are more in tune with who you are now. Spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself and people who make you laugh. Do you make time to play? Playtime is just as important for adults as it is for kids. If you’re constantly working and grinding away at what you “should” be doing everyday, eventually your body and mind will revolt. You might find yourself getting sick because there’s no stress relief. Make time to play.
Get Outside And Exercise!
Did your mom kick you out of the house when you were growing up? Granted, she might have been doing it in order to keep herself from killing you, but do you remember what it felt like to be outside and have to figure out what you were going to do? As kids, we had a natural inclination to challenge ourselves to do things we’d never been able to do before.
I remember climbing the monkey bars and challenging myself to be able to swing from one bar to another….just because. I’d put on my roller skates and skate around the neighborhood for hours just for the joy of it. So many studies have been done about the benefits of exercising outside that I can’t begin to cite them here. I think the key to doing this for the long term is to find the activities that are fun for you. You might not know what that is anymore.
Self-Mothering Involves Recognizing Moments:
Maybe you need to write down all the things you did when you were a kid and see if anything on that list still looks like fun to you. Maybe you need to modify the activity for what you’re capable of now. Start small. Start slow. Start now.
Self-mothering involves recognizing moments when we are unhappy and finding ways to improve our mood. This includes using positive self-talk and honoring our true feelings. No mother is perfect. When you take on the task of “mothering yourself” you will make your own mistakes. Be patient. Be kind… as if you are taking care of a child.
About the Author:
Yvonne Marchese is the host of the Late Bloomer Living Podcast, a professional photographer, mother and wife. At the age of 48, she realized that she’d bought into a story about getting old that was adversely affecting her health and relationships.Changing her story about aging inspired her to start the Late Bloomer Living Podcast where she is on a mission to redefine society’s ideas on aging and exploring how to live a life by design. Yvonne believes that midlife is filled with possibility, that it’s never too late to pursue a dream and that the stories we tell ourselves have tremendous power. Who knew that midlife could be so much fun? Follow Yvonne on IG –@latebloomerliving