Guest Blog: Nurturing a Nurturer
During the delivery of my first child, I apparently said to my husband, “You take care of me, so I can take care of our baby.” I actually don’t recall saying these words, but my husband reminded me of that moment during one of our sleepless nights with our second child. He was telling me to go back to bed, and let him take over, so I could function the next day.
I had a much easier time with being a new mom the first time around. After the birth of our son, not quite eighteen months after the birth of our daughter, I had moments of emotional shutdown. The feeling of being out of control was intense and very uncomfortable for me. I often felt like I was going through the motions of my day, but without a connection to myself or to the world around me. I was angry, I was scared and I was lost.
When my husband reminded me I had told him to take care of me so I could take care of my baby, I was shocked by my own forethought. Being a caregiver by nature, I was never used to being cared for. So how did I know this stage of life would be different? His restating my words made me take pause. Is that what he had been doing for the past 20 months? How did I not see?
I found motherhood to be humbling. That made me angry. Most of my anger was directed at my husband. Yet, there he was, day after day, night after night, “taking care of me so I could take care of our babies.” How did I miss that? And what did that mean?
I started to reflect. It was then that I noticed him; this strong presence I often took for granted. I noticed his consistency, his stability, his support of my decisions, his respect for me as a mother, his calming hand on my shoulder when I was out of control.
When I think about who helps me to be a better mother, of course there are the people who help me to care for my children; the fabulous teachers who truly understand their personalities, my siblings who patiently listen to endless stories as if my kids are the first to do or say anything, my mother-in-law who gets a lot of reading done on the long train rides between her house in NJ and mine in NYC as she commutes to babysit, my nanny who has loved my kids as her own, my father who makes “goody-bags” for my kids to take home after visits in his house, and my mother, who, if she could, would be a second mother to my children.
These people all play a huge part in making my life easier and my kids happy. But, when I consider myself and my own needs, I realize that it is my husband who unobtrusively takes care of me. It is he who makes me a better mom, and it is he who steadily nurtures me, the nurturer.
Michelle Canarick is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and the mother of two young children. She provides support to mothers and adolescents through her private practice on the Upper West Side and NYC Mom Support, an organization she founded to support mothers with children of all ages to identify practical solutions to their challenges. Michelle was recently included in a Good Morning America segment highlighting why mothers today are taking more prescription pills than in the past.