Today I woke up from a dream about compassion.
Compassion of another human being.
In my dream I was at my lowest and feeling as though I had lost myself in motherhood. I had a free moment and on a whim stopped at a tattoo shop. There was only one tattoo artist there and he had a free moment. So I sat down in his chair and told him I wanted to fill my sleeve with his art.
If anyone knows me, they know I love tattoos. I love the feeling of getting new ink not just because it is excitement of having a beautiful new art piece adorn your body, but also because the act of tattooing in itself has a complexity in it that you will have to endure a little bit of pain in the process in order to create something beautiful that you'll love.
It's an addicting feeling. It's one that I liken to having a baby. There may be pain involved, but afterward there is something beautiful and worth showing off.
As I sat down in this chair I looked up at this gruff man, who had seen years of too many cigarettes and long nights. He looked harsh, but had a gentleness about him. In my dream as I started to tell this man what I wanted I began to cry. I cried deep and hard in his chair and shared that I currently didn't even have the energy to draw out what I wanted as a tattoo and needed him to fill in the blanks. For me, again...this is rare. I am an artist at heart and love having my own pieces brand my body. I shared with this stranger that I had been a mom for a long and hard 13+ years. Motherhood had fully taken over my life and currently I was feeling raw and used up.
As this man began to tattoo my arm, I could feel his compassion in each swipe of the tattoo gun. He meticulously created a design that flowed so beautifully with my other tattoos that all I could do was cry. He had a tender fatherly love radiating through him and he just listened as this broken mother told her story. I shared my dreams, goals and passions with him. As I shared with him that motherhood has taken over, and the guilt had set in (that I wasn't home with the kids, how much that tattoo would cost, that I never did anything for myself) he began to work harder and more meticulously thinking of each swipe as a new beginning in my life.
As he finished the tattoo he looked at me with compassion in his eyes and said "This is my gift to you. Go follow your dreams, care for yourself and wear this tattoo with pride. Get rid of the guilt and shame and care for YOURSELF."
He didn't care about his money or his time involved in creating a beautiful piece of work on my body, but he cared about me. He gave me a gift of compassion and understood that all I needed was a gift and something that brought me hope.
I tell you all this because my dream was significant.
Regardless of what stage you are life; in motherhood, fatherhood, in your career, etc. I want you to know that self care is ESSENTIAL. We cannot give to the people we love fully from a place of empty. If our cup is empty then there is nothing to share with the ones we care for most.
I have been told this several times throughout my years of motherhood by those closest to me, but have always brushed it off. I made excuses for being knee deep in my role. I thought the idea of self care was that of selfishness. I felt as though I had to sacrifice my own needs for those of my little people.
This I can say, has been a true disservice to my children, my husband and most importantly my self.
I absolutely love being a mother. I love being a wife.
But, I have been giving from a place of empty. I have been so deeply entrenched in my mother/wife role that I have allowed myself to lack things that are deeply sacred to me. I have used it as an excuse to disown my passions because I thought it was what "good mothers" do. I have grown up with the notion that it is selfish to care about yourself. It is selfish to buy something that makes you feel good. It is selfish to spend a night out with friends away from your children.
I have hurt my family by this great disservice, though. They have seen a woman, that could be an admiration to them, beaten down and running on empty. They have been on the brunt end of the lack of self care.
So, my goal is to get back to a place of living with a full cup.
To create vitality and life through the things that bring me joy.
To show my children that when mom takes a "time out" to do the things she is passionate about she is caring for herself and loving up on herself.
To take time to create a sustainable career and live passionately for what I am passionate about.
I feel like this is a reward my children will see and will create wonderful habits as parents and adults. They will see that self care is not selfish or menial, but it truly is an important part of being human.
I think once we see the rewards of true self love and true self care we will begin to realize that the guilt and shame we carry around these acts need to be thrown out. Guilt and shame have no place in our lives if we truly want to live with joy, love and passion.