As moms, we’re wired to nurture our children and their little hearts. The outpouring of love and care happens naturally and doesn’t require conscious effort. It’s our calling and life-energy. Being a mom is a profound gift.
As moms, we’re not so much wired to nurture our big girl heart. Doing so often falls to the bottom of our to-do list, if it makes the list at all. It’s more of a chore and can feel life-draining. Self-care is an unfortunate burden.
The thing is we know deep down that putting all our effort into nurturing our kids at the expense of tending to our emotional needs as moms isn’t healthy, practical, or wise. If we want to thrive and experience the fullness of our journey in all the roles we play (mom, wife, daughter, friend, etc.), our inside world needs proper TLC too. The importance of sprinkling Miracle-Gro in the soil of our mom heart is as much a part of our motherhood story as ensuring the health and well-being of our kids.
We all know what it feels like when we don’t give proper love and attention to who we see in the mirror. Sadly, “when we don’t” is almost always. Sigh.
It’s not too difficult for us to grasp the why behind our mom heart needing nurturing. The challenge is when. Being a mom is hard and demanding in every way. Do we even have a free moment to ‘be’? Not to mention how do we offer up unconditional love, tenderness, and compassion when that kind of self-love doesn’t come naturally?
Before we search for answers to these questions, I think we need to get raw and real about what’s going on in these mom hearts of ours. We can start with ‘everything under the sun’ for example. Not to be dramatic, but don’t we have days when we feel worried, overwhelmed, sad, confused, guilty, afraid, burned-out, and depressed all at once? Mom guilt is dead weight all on its own. The irony is, such a heavy heartset can turn on a dime by something as simple as a sticky popsicle kiss from our toddler. In an instant, all the weightiness can lift—even if for a moment, creating space for indescribable joy, wonder, and gratitude to rush in.
If anything, this shows us how malleable our heart is. This fragile organ in our chest along with the invisible energy it holds is capable of rapid changes on the emotional meter. Meaning, our mom heart is easily influenced, both good and bad. It’s the good we need more of. Nurturing specifically.
One of the best medicines for an achy heart is giving it away to others in loving service. Which is essentially what we do for our kids every day. I think the problem is, we give to the point of emptying ourselves. Even when we have nothing in the reservoir, miraculously we’re able to pull from a higher source to keep doing and being and providing for our children, but often at a heavy personal price. Running on empty is prime ground for the muck to build up inside us. That’s when impatience builds, feeling trapped steeps, guilt throbs, fear creeps.
Yet, we too often continue to press forward, ignoring all the upheaval in our heart space.
Is this what we do when our kids feel these types of emotions? Of course not. We don’t ignore their suffering and struggles. We don’t say, “when I have the time, I’ll make sure my daughter knows how worthy she is,” or “one of these days I’ll get to helping my son process his insecurities and fears.”
No… we jump in on instinct and love them through, pushing everything else aside. We nurture our child’s heart and help them process. Wrap them up in a warm embrace. Whisper prayers over them and continue our pleas into the night. All without thinking; it’s automatic.
How is that possible when our schedule is already too full?
Because making time for the most important things in life bends time in our favor. Zeroing in on what matters right now slows down our life experience even though the clock still ticks. A very profound phenomenon, something I discuss at further length in my mom feelings book. Therefore, we do have the time to nurture our mom heart if we make ourselves a priority and push everything else aside, just like we do for our children.
We also create more time by refusing to spend time “pretending” we’re fine. Let’s be honest, we know how much energy it takes to put on a show. To curate our life and only allow the good stuff to roll off our lips. (The wise, beautiful, and inspiring Rachel Marie Martin over at findingjoy.net shares a version of this concept in her must-read book, The Brave Art of Motherhood).
Just imagine if we stole a few of those mental minutes and used them to lavish much-needed compassion on our heart space. Which paradoxically, looks a lot like telling the truth, being vulnerable, and taking the risk to be real about the hot mess we are.
Chances are, the mom we’re confiding in is a hot mess too, or at least can relate to our feelings in some way. Our experiences will always be unique, but the emotions of motherhood are universal. Choosing to be transparent is one of the most powerful ways to nurture our mom heart because we are tapping into the collective ache of our motherhood village. Doing so with a spirit of authenticity gives all of us a fighting chance to heal.
As women, we are wired to care for one another. Compassion and kindness are twisted up in the strands of our DNA. So, even if we struggle nurturing our heart and loving ourselves the way we deserve, if we are willing to walk into the village with our hearts bare, we can count on another mother to scoop us up and tend to our needs with love and grace. To wrap us in a warm embrace. To whisper prayers over us. All without thinking; it’s automatic.
Relationships are a profound gift. Leaning into others is a fortunate opportunity to lessen our burdens. All it takes is sweet surrender to experience both.
Momma, your heart needs nurturing too.
Let others love you the way you love.
You deserve it.
Need some nurturing? You deserve some self-care, so here is some love for your mom heart from two moms who’ve been in the trenches for decades: