One of the healing messages that carried me through the tumultuous aftermath of my birth family reunion was the mantra, “I am enough.” It was a message I was learning to tell myself in place of prior messages that I often told myself that contradicted that. They were the steady stream of messages that used to barrage my psyche and dictate my self-worth and they were often based upon my fears. It was healing to find messengers like Brene Brown, Oprah, Elizabeth Gilbert, Maya Angelou, my therapist and my acupuncturist and even my lovely badass hairstylist to give me the wisdom to draw out the strength inside of me that steadied me in the fact that I am enough during those years.
Recently, as a new mom, I’ve been struggling with how to tell myself that I am enough. That I am doing enough. And in the space of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic where all hell has broken loose on our lives, how do we tell ourselves that we are enough?? We are under constant pressures to be more than one place (home and work; work and school, etc.) and to be doing more than what we can (working full time and full-time childcare and… and… and…). I’ve read self-help books, gone through hours of counseling, and done a lot of personal work to manage and even overcome my anxiety in the past pre-mommyhood. But in the first years after becoming a mom and even moreso during the current pandemic, I was really struggling with anxiety about not feeling like I had enough _________ (e.g., time, energy, money, resources, plans for the future) or was enough for the people and things in my life. I asked my husband, who is a mental health counselor, how I could reduce my anxiety. I talked it over with my counselor. I did readings. But I was still feeling so anxious as a mother. Was I doing enough? The countless hours I spent typing on my computer while she lay watching TV or playing on her tablet was haunting me. Am I enough? Am I doing enough? It was interacting with my own trauma as a child of feeling like I was without then. And this time, I didn’t know how to shake it. With so many nights staying up late working, my daughter was also going to bed later and waking later and later. I felt horrible about that. But I couldn’t and do anything about that at the moment. In the mornings, when she’s sleeping, I needed the time to work. Late at night when she was waiting for me to wind down for the night, I was still working. And all the while, feeling like I was failing– my jobs, my daughter, my family, and myself. It was all too much.
Then this week, at the close of a late afternoon of a crazy frenzied day, something shifted. A breakthrough happened for me. I was looking at my three-year-old daughter making a squinty-face at me. Usually, when I looked at her, the messages that rolled through my mind were how much I needed to be doing for her and how much we needed to do (e.g. bath time, brush teeth, dinner, get dressed, clean this, clean that, learn this, learn that, do this do that, you know all that stuff) and how much I was failing at it. But today something was different. And I don’t know exactly what was different. It was definitely a supernatural-God-universe-moment because it was bigger than me. It was a raw moment of surrender because I was just too exhausted to ‘try’ to do anything at that moment. Rather than striving, I just looked at her and felt that she was exactly enough just as she was. And something broke inside of me. The anxiety I was placing on myself. All the stress and the worry lifted as I gave my daughter the message I had been learning that I needed to hear all these years. That she was/is enough. 😭
Years of anxiety melted off of my shoulders in that healing moment of clarity. I could see with fresh eyes. I could deliver that message to my daughter in a new way. Out of the challenges in my life and in my situation during this pandemic, something new was born. Instead of striving for what I believed I needed to do to make her life better or easier at that moment, I realized she was already everything she needed to be. And I, in turn, was everything that I needed to be. I didn’t have to do anything to be more deserving of a good, wonderful, smart, thriving child or of the title of being a “good mother.” She didn’t have to do anything to be more deserving of love, acceptance, respect, or praise. She was already whole. I was and am already whole.
If you’re struggling with anxiety or that tension of feeling like you don’t have enough ____________ (insert anything here) today, may I encourage you to surrender? To surrender your plans and efforts up to the message that you are enough. And if you struggle with telling yourself that, as I did over the past few years of being a new mom and especially so since this crisis, take a moment to look at someone you love and send out that wholehearted message of love to them: that they are enough. Just as they are, they are enough. They don’t need to do anything to deserve more love or acceptance. They just are wholly and fully enough. Let go of your expectations. And if during these times you need encouragement or support as we all do, please contact me or someone you know that can remind you of this message that we all need so desperately to hear: You are enough.
I’m rooting for you!