Who Nurtures the Nurturer?
This question has been riddling me since I became a mother in 2011. With the birth of my firstborn son, I was overwhelmed with a burden of responsibility that I had never felt before. There was constant pressure to nurture this precious life non-stop night and day. And while this bundle of joy was a blessing, I couldn't help but feel that I needed someone to support me through the process. Mothering a newborn can feel like parenting boot-camp. This little person has demands that they cannot communicate with words we understand. There is no manual to assist us and each child is packaged so differently that it is nearly impossible to be sure of what advice will work and what efforts will instead be wasted energy. As mothers, we are constantly navigating ever changing waters. Once we find an effective response to a need, a new need arises and we begin the process again. This never ends. From the first moment we lay eyes on our child until we take our last breath, it is our responsibility and honor to nurture, protect, educate, and provide for them. Making motherhood not only an essential function in the home, but also an incredibly crucial role in society.
It's true that we are all vessels, of love, of joy, of hope, etc... and just like any vessel, when it continues to pour out it must be refilled or it becomes empty. Useless. Unable to share its once bountiful contents. Men and women alike enter seasons of life where we feel that we have given all we can and are reaching a point of emptiness. For some of you, it may be the demands of your job or your responsibilities as a provider. For others it may be the mounting stress as a caregiver, daughter, grandson, or CEO. For me, motherhood has truly put me to the test. Unfortunately, being a mother does not excuse other obligations. And so mothers, our role is further complicated by also having to nurture our spouse and family beyond the household. Women are unequivocally charged the great responsibility of nurturing. It is an unspoken expectation that women are equipped to provide emotional and spiritual stability to all, no matter the circumstance. While I despise this seemingly unfair gender expectation, I wholeheartedly agree that women have been gifted with a supernatural awesome ability! However, it does not change the fact that we too must be nurtured. We too must be poured into. If we continue to give and give (and give some more) surely there will come a point where, naturally, there is nothing left.
I posed the question then and I continue to pose it now (two sons later). Who nurtures the nurturer? We kiss the bruises, tend to sickness, speak positivity, we encourage, love, and see beyond faults. A mother's embrace can erase woes, soothe fears, and energize. We are charged to cook, pray, read, and sing, to hold, cherish, and comfort our little ones and provide safety and guidance as they grow into big ones. Who will do those things for us? Who will pick up the pieces when we feel broken, challenged, and overwhelmed? The circle of life predicts that our mothers will not always be here to fill that role forever. Could it be our spouses? Or perhaps our closest friends? Or could there be something more profound at play? That as we are nurturing those we love that we are reaping the very things we sew? Perhaps being a nurturer is unlike any other role and that our sacrifice is rewarded in every moment we can spend with those we love. A reward so great that we completely overlook it. It is a blessing to nurture. It is a perpetual gift to all who participate in the act of loving and caring for one another.
What you have inside of you is so incredible that it must be shared bountifully. You have been afforded the opportunity to share an abundant wealth of care with those you love. What a privilege to be able to fill such a pivital role! Sure at times it is thankless. Sure it can be frustrating as hell. It can absolutely feel isolating and draining. When you feel overwhelmed and empty, breathe. Vent...scream...journal... do what you need to do to get re-centered. You will be surprised how quickly you'll fill back up. Half the battle is in realizing how valuable you are. There is a burden in the responsibility, but the truth is... there is no one that can fill your shoes!
I wish there was an easy answer to alleviate all the pressures of the responsibility of nurturing others. Not just for you, but for me as well. The question continues to come to mind when burnout rears it's ugly head but the good news is that the burden lifts. Grace to continue is granted and appreciation for the role returns. In all of the ups and downs of being wife and mom, I have learned that I have so much to give and I am sure that just like me, you have so much more within you than you realize. Perhaps if we offered ourselves the same care we afford others, we would better appreciate ourselves and would discover an ability to replenish our own wells.