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welcome to nurture 101!

Turning Nurture Inward

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The Marathon of Motherhood

When my friends without kids tell me they're "so busy," I have to laugh quietly to myself. Juggling two children, two mortgages, and two jobs, I have to run fast just to stand still. It all often seems like an incredible grind. I drop into bed exhausted, and then rev up the engines yet again when the alarm goes off in the morning. I feel a growing need for some sense of perspective. Otherwise, what's the point? No doubt, I love my children SO MUCH. But what IS the point? Just a grind until they're launched themselves? And then when my daughter becomes a mom herself, she just gets to go through it all over again?

You ask some very powerful questions, and in response, we'd like to offer this short piece from our book, Mother Nurture.

[Adapted from Mother Nurture: A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships, by Rick Hanson, Ph.D., Jan Hanson, Lac., Ricki Pollycove, M.D. Copyright 2002. Reprinted by arrangement with Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc.]

Motherhood is a long journey, a marathon, not a sprint.

It begins before your first child is born: that incredible moment when you know you've conceived a new being, the long pregnancy, fixing up the baby's room, finally the birth itself, and then the little breathing bundle, the life delivered into your arms. The details differ a bit if you've adopted a child, but the essentials are the same: anticipation, nervousness, and an extraordinary love.

Some parts are a blur and others a long slow grind. Feeding, diapers, long nights with the baby, the first steps, the first words, the first everything. Tantrums, story time, bouncing a ball, wiping a chin, high chairs, tiny chairs, wiping crayons off chairs. Day care, nursery school, the first day of first grade, watching that sturdy back trudge down the hall to class.

Camps, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, bullies, buddies, soccer games, Little League, balls caught, dropped, kicked, and lost. Chores, bedtimes, discipline, angry words and loving forgiveness.

The grades tick by, good teachers and bad, science fairs and spelling lists, too much homework or not enough, that great moment when your child knows the answer to a question and you don't.

Somewhere in there your youngest turns eight or ten and you think, It's half over, where has the time gone? Middle school, high school, pimples and makeup and dating and fingernails chewed after midnight until you hear a step at the door. Strange music and stranger friends, coltish and gawky, solemn and wise. All the while, the birthdays have ticked by, some with numbers that echo: one, two, six, ten, thirteen, sixteen. Then the eighteenth: what now?

The marathon doesn't end there, though it becomes more meandering and less consuming. Loans that are really gifts, advice that is rejected loudly and followed quietly, graduations, postcards from Mexico or Maui, the bittersweet joy of watching your child walk down a wedding aisle, a downpayment with your name on it. If your children have kids, your journey takes on a second sort of mothering.

You age and your children don't seem to. There comes that time when the trajectory of your life is clearly falling back to earth as your children's ascends. You drift into old age and there is a subtle shift of care and power. And then the final moments come, your veined and aged hands in the strong ones of your children, squeezing, a kiss, a final blessing, a farewell, an ending to the path you walked as a mother, and the beginning of a mysterious new one.

It's a long, long road. You have to pace yourself down it, not racing like it's a hundred-yard dash. You have to set aside time to catch your breath - and admire the view! You need good companions, like a loving and supportive partner, and the company of other mothers. You need to keep replenishing yourself with good nutrition, exercise, sleep, and enjoyable activities. You need realistic expectations for yourself. And faith and hope that the months and years ahead will give you more chances to get things right.

If you regarded motherhood as a long marathon, spanning twenty years or more, how might you shift the demands you place on yourself? How might you assert yourself to get more help from others? How might you take better care of your body? Or better nourish your inner being? Or simply be nicer to yourself?

When you start taking the long view about the incredible and profound matter of bearing and rearing children, it starts to make more sense, the daily hassles are less irritating, you're likely to take better care of yourself - and the journey becomes less stressful, more meaningful, and more rewarding!

(Rick Hanson is a clinical psychologist, Jan Hanson is an acupuncturist/nutritionist, and they are raising a daughter and son, ages 12 and 14. With Ricki Pollycove, M.D., they are the authors of Mother Nurture: A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships, published by Penguin. You can see their website at www.nurturemom.com or email them with questions or comments at info@nurturemom.com; unfortunately, a personal reply may not always be possible.)

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Swimming up Stream

When I think back to my own mom, she always seemed so on top of things. I feel dismayed and guilty that I'm not handling things as well and feel a lot more frazzled than she seemed to be.

We've heard this comment from many mothers, and it's both poignant and sadly unfair to the women who feel this way, since times have changed so dramatically. In response, we'd like to offer this excerpt from our book, Mother Nurture. [From Mother Nurture: A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships, by Rick Hanson, Ph.D., Jan Hanson, L.Ac., Ricki Pollycove, M.D. Copyright 2002. Reprinted by arrangement with Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc.]

Let's step back for a minute and look at how we got here. During more than 99% of the time that humans (or our close ancestors) have lived on this planet, mothers raised families in small groups of hunter-gatherers. If you had been among them, your life would have moved at the speed of a walk while you provided for your needs and fulfilled your ambitions with a child on your hip or nearby.

You would have eaten fresh and organic foods saturated in micro-nutrients and breathed air and drunk water free of artificial chemicals. Most important of all, you would have spent much of your day with other mothers, surrounded by a supportive community of relatives, friends, and neighbors. These are the conditions to which your body and mind are adapted for raising children.

Unfortunately, while the essential activities of mothering - pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, worrying and planning and loving with all your heart - have not altered one bit, our world has changed profoundly, and evolution hasn't had time to catch up. You and we are genetically identical to the first modern humans of 200,000 years ago, and nearly identical to our earliest tool-using ancestors, who lived over two million years ago.

Nonetheless, at odds with this basic genetic blueprint, most mothers today must rush about stressfully, constantly juggling and multi-tasking. Few modern jobs can be done with young children around, so working means spending much of the day separated from your kids - and the stresses of the unnatural schedule and pace they must then handle affect them in ways that naturally spill over onto you.

Compared to our ancestors, most of us eat much fewer vegetables and whole foods, and much more white flour, sugar, and artificial chemicals, and we can't help absorbing some of the billions of pounds of toxins released into the environment each year, which even leave traces in breast milk.

The so-called village it takes to raise a child usually looks more like a ghost town, so you have to rely more on your mate than did mothers in times past - but he, too, is strained by the unprecedented busyness and intensity of modern life.

If you feel like you're swimming upstream, it's because raising children was not meant to be this way. Many of the problems that seem purely personal or marital actually start on the other side of your front door.

Of course, the world is not going to change back to the time of the hunter-gatherers (and we'd miss refrigerators and telephones too much if it did!). And those times certainly had their own difficulties, such as famine or disease. But, like every mother, you can't help but feel the impact of the whirlwind we're all living in.

Just how you're affected is as individual as a baby's footprint. Some mothers are fortunate to have low demands, substantial resources, and low vulnerabilities. All too often, however, the demands are high, resources are low, and resilience gets worn down: a mother's "cupboard" gets emptied out and shaken and it's an uphill struggle to get anything back in. No wonder that, over time, some signs of wear begin to show.

That's why we think it's so important you and every mother to take active steps to lower her stresses and increase her resources: that's mother nurture.

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10 Ideas to Take Care of You
by Elevated Existence
 
Most of us are so busy with work, family, friends and life in general, we sometimes forget to take time to nurture and love ourselves. Maybe we find ourselves getting angry easily, or frustrated with things around us that we can’t control. Or maybe we are moving non-stop from waking in the morning until our head hits the pillow at night.

We have to remember to take time out for ourselves. If we don’t, we won’t be as helpful to others. And no, it’s not selfish. It’s self-love! Here are some suggestions we have for you to practice self-care – and thanks to all our facebook members for their suggestions. You guys are the best!

1. Take time every day to meditate, clear and recharge your mind – even if it’s only 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes before bed.

2. If you like to look through magazines, whether fashion, spiritual or hobby focused, cut out pictures or items of interest to you and put them in a “manifestation box,” or tape them to a poster board. Look at these before you meditate, or at times when you need a lift. Know that they are coming to you.

3. Put on an inspirational CD – whether a recorded talk from one of your favorite authors, or music that makes you feel good (see the Read, Watch, Listen section of our quarterly, digital magazine for some great recommendations) and clean up the clutter around you. Come on … you know it’s there. We know it’s there. You will feel better when it’s gone!

4. Pamper yourself. Take a bath, treat your skin with your favorite oil or moisturizer, make a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate, and curl up with your favorite throw for a good movie … or a good book. Again, see Read, Watch Listen for great choices.

5. Plan a game night with friends to relax, laugh and share with others. You can pick a fun and interactive board game (or even a DVD interactive game). Better yet, create a monthly game night, and alternate homes each time.

6. Treat yourself to something out of the ordinary. Splurge on that favorite coffee drink. Book a one-hour massage. Buy a new candle to fragrance your home or office.

7. Grab your mp3 player and go for a walk outside in nature. It’s good for your mind and body, and if you bring a friend with you, you don’t need the music!

8. If you had a choice to spend an hour doing anything you wanted, what would you do? Work on a hobby? Talk to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while? Browse in a bookstore? Schedule an hour for yourself in your calendar right now to do whatever you pick.

9. Spend quality time with children -- your own, your grandchildren, your niece, your nephew, etc. Their innocence will always make you smile, and remember how simple life can really be.

10 Take a yoga class. It’s one of the best ways to take a time out and connect your mind and body.

These are just a few of the ways you can take time out and practice self-care.

What do you do to take care of you? We’d love to hear more of your suggestions!

Author's Bio

Intent.com is a premier wellness site and supportive social network where like-minded individuals can connect and support each others' intentions. Founded by Deepak Chopra's daughter Mallika Chopra, Intent.com aims to be the most trusted and comprehensive wellness destination featuring a supportive community of members, blogs from top wellness experts and curated online content relating to Personal, Social, Global and Spiritual wellness.
 
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