What DO I Want?

As a woman, and more recently as a mom, I’ve been learning how to ask a question that was previously considered selfish and incredibly foreign to me: what do I want?

I remember sitting across from my therapist - pregnant, emotional and tired of a lifestyle of people pleasing and knowing that with the birth of my first child I had to do something different. She leaned forward, looked me in the eyes, and gently asked: “What do you want?” I blinked back at her: “I don’t know.” She told me that was ok, that the simple act of continuing to ask myself that question would eventually result in answers. It would take time. 

Fast forward nearly 4 years later: we had recently moved to a new town, my second born had just turned one, and I craved space, sleep(!), time to be alone so that I could remember who I was inside the fog of exhaustion, and to find a deeper space outside the shallows I was surviving in as a mama.

I asked myself what I wanted and I knew the answer... but it came with a side of mama guilt from an old voice inside of me. I pushed that guilt away, and I mustered up the courage to ask my partner for what I desperately wanted. Several weeks later, on mother's day weekend, I spent three glorious days away, alone, in a different town, sleeping on a friend’s couch, eating meals that I wanted to eat, sleeping (!!), putting my toes in the ocean, getting in a car listening to my own music, and driving wherever I wanted to go. It was glorious. And I returned to my family a better version of myself. To my surprise and delight, they did great without me. Which made me realize... I have the ability to ask for more space when I need it. Maybe I am the only one holding me back from having more of what I need in my life? 

It's a continual practice to remember I can ask for what I want. Why is this such a hard thing for us mamas? We get so caught up in everyone and everything else. It seems so hard to halt the moving train of to-do lists, schedules, and taking care of everyone else first. 

But the more I ask myself - what do I want? - the more I hear whispers about finding time alone (even if just for 10 minutes), practicing and learning about what self-care feels like for me, and learning to voice what I want to my tribe and family. 

Every time I follow that intuition I emerge a better mama, partner, and friend - and more than anything more secure and grounded in myself.

Christy McConnell