Empathy is a huge part of who I am. It’s always been my go-to reflex and it seems that becoming a mother only magnified its intensity. A part of me was now growing beyond my bosom. As the years go by, the distance grows with their independence. Out of my arms reach.
Everything I am. All my memories, my histories, my wounds, my joys are part of my parenting. I am fully invested and present with all of me coming to the table for mothering.
Caring. Giving. Nurturing. It is all my default.
The depths of this and how far I could fall to my own detriment were something I was oblivious to. There was a moment. A critical turning point. A parenting guffaw and awakening that brought awareness from the outside.
I was called on the carpet and told to shut my gates. Start reigning in instead of constantly spewing energy from my core. I was depleting myself. Slowly carving a shell that was self made.
It was bold and big and morphed into a growing lesson on boundaries. Creating fences. Malleable and shifting based on the need, but firm in their creation and self awareness.
These boundaries and my growing ability to set them saved me. It pulled that essence of me in tighter and closer. In my bosom. At my heart. It gave me the capacity to give with readiness and choice and preservation.
My self awareness is a skill that is continually honed and refined. Made clearer with time. Cobwebs that are cleaned but remnants that linger because they are part of the structure that is me. The blocks that are created to build the house and all its stories that I have become.
My empathy can be a vacuum. Sucking the energy. Pulling from the darkness and crevices. Grabbing hidden bits. All within me. It has the capacity to flow with well intentioned abandon. But the effectiveness is greatest when it is guided and secure.
The bullet point of my lesson is this. I can be all that I am, give all that goodness I want to give and still be wholly me. Full of energy with a keen mindfulness for self preservation.
The situations where it has been hardest to maintain this stamina is with my own children. I give. Day in and day out. I am their rock and tender of their nest. Their safety. But, they are on their path. A walk uniquely their own. I am raising independent people who will hopefully bring goodness and kindness to this world.
But, creating my own space and my own place for my thoughts, time and energy is a critical need of mine. It is what makes it possible to give. Fully and without grudge or dissatisfaction. Making the boundary that having “mine and only mine” is okay. That does not negate the other. The giving. The sharing. The constant presence.
That is my thesis.
To be able to say YES and GIVE, I in turn must be able to say NO. My heart will not shrink or shrivel. My gifts will be no less valuable or important. They are mine to give with my whole heart.