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For Every Mother: 24 Questions to Seek Your True Self, Dreams and Goals

As the song “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac played on my ipod, its soulful words filled my heart with a dull ache – a misery that I could not recognize immediately but it did not seem a stranger to me either.  I heard it once with moist eyes; the second time with a big lump in my throat; the third time around I just needed to connect with myself and figure out what was going on. And that’s when I opened the word document and started writing…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YDZTudbX5o&feature=fvwrel[/youtube]

I request you to listen to this song even if you’ve heard before. Thank ya, friends :-) Sorry, I don’t intend to make you feel pensive but then this song is one of those that speak to our saddest thoughts and hence so sweet (“our sweetest songs are those that speak of our saddest thoughts”).

Here are the lyrics to the song if you’d like to save…

My Personal Interpretation of the Song

These words, like all works of art and poetry, may carry different interpretations for different people.

To me, these words sounded so close to life as they immediately made me think of my mom and all that she went through her life — as a girl child in this male-child-obsessed Indian society; as a woman trying hard to please, serve, meet expectations and prove herself at every turn; and as a mother – fighting to provide – material and emotional security – for her children.

The words from this song portray her life as though written for her. She “climbed a mountain” that life was – rocked by adversities that never knew a fullstop; reaching the peak (of life) when she “turned around” she “saw her reflection” that showed an emotionally drained, physically battered and fatigued person. And then the disastrous “landslide” in the form of her drastic heart surgery that “brought her down”. Down, yes, but not out.

She realizes that she “built her entire life around her kids” and now “the children are older”. They have their own lives, families, dreams and goals. She feels lonely, companion-less and worst of all – purpose less.  

She often tells me she yearns to seek her identity and wants to know that “time makes one bolder”. I want her to know this, too, and want her to live a life afresh for her own sake – not for anyone else. I want her to invest in HER happiness and not get trapped in the rigmarole of OUR lives.

This is one story that I have been a part of – indirectly and often – directly. But, there are many more ailing mom-hearts waiting to be healed. There are millions of such stories of mothers and women (well, men, too!) who go on living for others – without knowing their own desires, motivation or aspiration.

They have never known what caring for their own selves may mean.

You might find it strange that I, of all people, should say all these…

…when I probably am living my life incredibly centered around my child! I’m homeschooling my daughter, my blog is focused on my journey with her as a parent; even some of the trips that I take are to learn more about unschooling, conscious parenting etc. Whoa!

Yes, all of that is true. My life is centered around my kid. But, I haven’t chosen this life without deliberation. I mean, it’s not any societal norm I’m following; it’s not any mommy responsibility that I’m ought to fulfill; it’s not any guilt that I’m succumbing to; it’s not an attempt to look good as a mom.

It’s a calling from my heart that I couldn’t have ignored for long. It’s what makes me complete with my heart and soul intact.

And, in reality, this has opened up so many facets of my own persona that nothing else could have. I’ve discovered my earnest love for art, nature, photography, writing and so much more – due to my keen desire to create a loving, creative learning environment for Pari. It’s been good for Pari but it’s been even more fulfilling for me.

No matter which corner of the world we live – we mothers – our lives will centre around our children.

But, we often forget that we are humans, too – with our own ambition, hobbies, passions, goals and hey – health! We don’t have to become ‘messiahs’! (Although, even as I write this, it feels as though we mothers ARE – after all – messengers of God….)

Even then, I’m sure God did sprinkle some glittery-dreams in the dough that he shaped our hearts with!

And those glitters travel up to our eyes and make them dream and sparkle every now and then reminding us of what we are meant to be – other than the mothers we are striving to become…

Yes, our children are a big part of those glitter-dreams. But, if we pause to stare long and hard – some of the glitters sparkle differently – and longingly – at us – imploring us to explore our heart.

For if we explore, we may stumble upon an artist, a singer, a dancer, a photographer, a writer, an activist, an entrepreneur, an environmentalist, a healer, a naturalist, a chef!

Should we not muster up the courage to strike a conversation with these talented people within us?

I can’t say for all, but I know for myself and for so many of you – that we can’t be happy just being mothers; even awesome moms. We need to be good to ouselves, too, to feel truly happy in our skin.

And, truth be told – I neglect myself way too much (my health, especially) to claim that I’m doing what I’m recommending.

Are we taking care of ourselves – our mind, heart and body; our purpose and dreams? In one word  – our happiness!

Let’s face it : a happy – and healthy – mom is the best gift to her child. While, a drained out, irritable, sulking, depressed mother leaves the worst effect on her child.

Hence this article is applicable to me as much as it may be applicable to some (or many) mothers around the world.

Sheena Iyengar, in her book ‘The Art of Choosing’, writes –

“The ability to choose well seems to depend in no small part upon our knowing our own minds.”

Exercise 1

I’ve phrased 18 questions which, if you choose to answer (to yourself), will help you understand yourself better and come face-to-face with your innermost thoughts.

I request that when answering these questions, you be absolutely true to yourself. I encourage you to write down the answers so you can go back to them later. Here are the questions:

  1. Do you feel you can’t clearly and firmly spell out what your talents and abilities are?
  2. Do you often find yourself impatient, irritable and stressed out?
  3. Do you feel in your heart of hearts that you are “sacrificing” or compromising your happiness/interests/passions for your children or family or any other reason?
  4. Do you think you and your partner do not spend quality time with each other?
  5. Do you drag your feet to work (as in your job/business) every Monday?
  6. Do you think you are working primarily for money and that enjoying work is secondary and may happen later in life?
  7. Are your talents and abilities under-utilized in your job?
  8. Do you tend to bottle up your feelings?
  9. Do you often let others make your own choices? Are they thrust upon you by people or situations?
  10. Do you think (for mothers, primarily) you have let go of a thriving career because of child rearing?
  11. If yes, are you resentful that you decided to let go of your career due to kids?
  12. Do you think you should have sought an alternative career that better suited your changed priorities (keeping child in mind)?
  13. Do you think you are often escaping from your innermost feelings?
  14. Do you think you are “putting up” a happy and perfect front even when your heart feels otherwise?
  15. Do you feel sadness and regret for yourself when you see others pursue their interests and passions feverishly?
  16. Do you refrain from acknowledging and praising somebody’s talents and achievements because it makes you feel insecure?
  17. Do you think you are capable of more and better things than you are currently doing?
  18. Are you of the mindset that you will follow your dreams (devoting time to hobbies, starting a blog, writing a book, starting a business) when the kids grow up?

Having gone through this introspection, I hope you had more no’s than yes-es. But, if you had many yes-es, I recommend that you take the time to introspect. May be have a heart-to-heart talk with someone you really really trust and someone who understands you instinctively  – and figure out what’s not in tune with your true self.

What is it that’s draining your spirits and inhibiting you from taking charge of your life and happiness.

Exercise 2

Now, take these eight scenarios and questions to dig deeper into yourself. I’m quite sure these questions will lead you magically to the core of your heart.

  1. If you could get one full day to yourself and everything else (your work, home, kids, To Dos) was taken care of, what would you do?
  2. What help, suggestions, expertise do friends/family/colleagues come to you for?
  3. If you could change one habit/trait/aspect of yourself, what would that be?
  4. If you could undo one event/decision/action in your life, what would that be?
  5. What are those beliefs and values that you will never part with come what may?
  6. If you could choose someone as your life mentor/coach/guide, who would that person be?
  7. Which relationship in your life gives you unmeasured happiness?
  8. What’s the one desire (hobby/passion/skill/learning/cause) that you would regret not pursuing to your heart’s content?

Connect those answers and what you will get is a portrayal of your true self – reflecting your innermost thoughts, longings, sadness and joys.

Your kids will make you proud, for the mother that you are – no doubt about that.  A mother who’s there to play, hug, cuddle, listen, advice, laugh – and – create beautiful memories with her children.

But, you have every right to be proud for being the person that you are – to YOURSELF – worthy of your care, respect, time and commitment. Commitment to your own health, fitness, goals, dreams and not to forget – FUN.

Now, your turn!

I want you to share one answer from the questions above :-)

And the question is –

If you like this article, please consider sharing with a mother you know (may be your own mom) who needs more than just a gentle push to create time for herself and reach out for her dreams. It’s never too late….

I need help sustaining this blog…

Dear blog readers – It’s been exactly eight years now that I’ve been writing on this blog! Yes, eight long years and hundreds of articles. From art, creativity and learning; to food, health, gardening, travel, sustainable and mindful living, natural birth. In our un-schooling life, as we go on introspecting, questioning and evolving, I’ve strived to share our stories and experiences with as much honesty, care and sincerity as possible.

I spend hours writing an article – and often write and rewrite many times before it rings true to me and sounds worthy of your time to read.

The most important thing for me is to keep this blogging endeavour authentic and true to my values. This blog has been my sacred space to express, share, feel empowered and contribute. Hence, I do not like to support businesses that don’t align with my values. So far, I’ve rarely taken sponsorship from brands and companies. I haven’t placed any ads on my blog, though there have been multiple offers.

Infact, I’d like to keep this blog ad free unless something truly meaningful comes across.
Yet, there’s a cost to running this blog. The basic cost of keeping the domain alive, and hosting all this content on. I spend roughly INR 10,000 (USD 173) just to keep this blog up and running. So, I need to cover this cost. Plus, it’d be nice to bring in some income for our family of four. And, this is where I request your support.

If you find my articles and stories useful or inspiring at some level, please help me sustain. Starting from 1 dollar or 100 rupees to whatever you can, do consider donating for the content I share; for my intention and the time and effort I put. Your support will go a long way in keeping this blog (of 8+ years) sparkling with stories for many more years to come. Thank you, dear ones. I’ll value what you’ll gift with love and kindness. :-)

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Patricia Torres May 12, 2012, 2:09 pm

    Rashmie.. This is so well written.. I can so relate to this.. I often ask myself the same question.. Do I spend enough time with the kids? Do I spend quality time with my hubby? With all the other things I involve myself in… some days I’m totally drained…

    But the truth is… I’ve found a little balance between in life… Kids are not really my focus… or don’t really have control over our lives.. They do to a certain extend… but I think I’ve found that little hole, where I go out and am myself.. and do things that I want to do.. be it paint, or DIY, or volunteer at charities or just about anything… In some way, Sims (my 9 year old), truly appreciates the fact that I have more of a personality and am not doing the normal mommy jobs (thats what she said to me once)… However, Eva (my 7 year old), would rather me be a full time mum… and often isn’t happy if I have to travel or am not at home to do her home work… But at the end, I’ve begun to realise, kids grow too soon.. Sims doesn’t need me as much as she used to… and someday both will go away.. and I still need to have that life of mine…

    Very well written Rashmie… atleast we know… that we are all on the same level… and can share our feelings with each other.. :)

    • Rashmie May 14, 2012, 4:26 pm

      Patty,
      Thank you for sharing a part of your life and thoughts. You’re right – balance is essential. And being content with what we’re doing or not doing is the key. If I’m homeschooling and at the end of the day I feel drained and depressed, what’s the point. At the same time, if I’m engaged in my own stuff and keep feeling guilty constantly that I’m not there enough for my kid, that’s not satisfying, either.
      You’re right, kids grow too soon and that actually makes me poignant…thinking that she’ll not need me for long in the way that she does today. So, I might as well enjoy these days of her growing up as much as I can…

      Thank you, Patty, for being here…

  • Shawn May 14, 2012, 6:07 am

    Nice post … and very similar to one that I’m writing for my blog this week. I believe it is essential that mothers and fathers have dreams and goals for themselves so that when their children pull away, they will not feel such a deep loss as so many do when kids leave home. Plus, it’s just healthy! Anything that gives us purpose is a good thing.

    • Rashmie May 14, 2012, 4:29 pm

      Shawn,
      So glad you’re here :-)
      You’re right about having a purpose. Without it, we lose the zeal to live. Purpose is what makes us look forward to – every day..
      I’ll be on the lookout for your article when it goes live..

  • surbhi May 14, 2012, 4:36 pm

    a very well etched piece of writng…sometymes i really find myself relating to most of the ques….tyme constraint and were do i have lived for my dreams…feeling stressed and phew…..i seriously could relate to many of them…yes everybody wants to be a mom whom the child can be proud of and vice versa…..well after ur kids ur priorities towards ur passions and hobbies too change….but i think after my kid my passion to write wchich took a backseat for some tyme is gaining momentum slowly….lets see wat happens…
    but buddy u r doing grt work….

    • Rashmie May 17, 2012, 12:09 pm

      Surbhi,
      I hope your passion for writing takes off in a way that it gives you true satisfaction. Keep at it, my dear. Some early morning hours are so tranquil for writing. But, if that doesn’t work for you, may be ater the kids have gone to school or gone off to sleep.
      All the very best in your journey ahead… :-)

  • Ashu May 14, 2012, 5:08 pm

    What a lovely article on Mother’s day. Letting so many mother’s to do introspection, How true Rashmie once kid is born and came into our life, we instinctively started taking that new role being world to us. May be that’s why its also said ‘’for world ur kid is one but for mother’s its a world. From exercise so many yes …
    I remm after my daughter’s birth I been out of the world for almost 20 months,as time keep on passing specially once she reached three and half year,I’m thinking trying to be supermom,I have given up everything which I used to think or love to do.But I guess in the meantime,little self exploring learned do so much fun with her, new passion for photography and nature visits,I guess that is giving me peace of mind and exploration of life in nature. But I guess some more exploration needs to be done….

    • Rashmie May 17, 2012, 12:13 pm

      Ashu,
      I’m glad this article helped you do some introspection. I know how much you crave for nature. Good that you’re exploring more of it with your daughter. I think for mothers, it works out beautifully when we also are able to engage our kids a bit in what we are passionate about. For me – art, writing, nature – involving Pari in all these has made it practical to follow my passions and create some time for my projects.
      Thanks, Ashu, for being here and sharing your heart so honestly….

  • Kristi@Creative Connections for Kids May 14, 2012, 5:15 pm

    A beautiful post and exercise Rashmie. I know that you have poured your heart into it. I think our mother’s are very smilar. My mother totally gives herself to caring for her mother (who is 96) and taking care of others. I have learned much from her life and example. I admire your dedication to your child, as we only have them in our care for a short time, but it seems that you have found a balance and will be prepared when she grows-up to lead her own life. That is very important, not easy, but essential. Thank you for guiding us through a time of reflection and renewal!

    • Rashmie May 17, 2012, 12:17 pm

      Dear Kristi,
      Thank you for sharing your mother’s story. I was so touched to read about her taking care of her mom who is 96. Wow, what a relationship. I think a mother-daughter relationship is divine and spiritual and so so unique. I remember reading that article by you – about connecting with grandparents. It was so meaningful and again goes on to show what daughters/mothers are like!
      You’re right about me finding a balance. I think when my daughter grows up and finds her path, i’ll have carved my own path, too. :-)
      Hugs to you, Kristi!

  • Ritu Dua May 14, 2012, 5:34 pm

    Hi Rashmi
    I felt as if you used my words to write this post! Yes I too have been very very family oriented and spent all these years just for my family. You are absolutely right and I agree that we mothers are in the habit of putting ourselves last so that our kids/family can feel how it feels to be first.
    I used to be a banker and left the job to suit my first son’s comfort and then after some years chose to be a teacher(was adequately qualified for the same) since it would have enabled me to give enough time to my two sons. But then I left that too because teaching my own two sons and making them grow into good human beings was more important for me than teaching two hundred children in the school…
    Now they are big enough and are doing awesomely well at there respective levels.
    My heart swells with pride thinking of this journey but then here comes your question….
    and my answer is that my kids still mean the world to me. As far as the ‘glittering sparks’ that shine as ‘my dreams’ for ‘myself’ in ‘my eyes’…I am trying my best that they do come true in this life time :)

    • Rashmie May 17, 2012, 12:20 pm

      Ritu, my friend – my heart for you swelled with love when I read your words. You’re such a loving, thoughtful, sincere person. I can feel the warmth and love you carry for your sons.
      I had seen this in the form of your paintings, too! You’re an artist and poet at heart.
      I wish you are able to give time to your passions and make those glittery-dreams shine and sing! Much love and wishes :-)

  • Ali @ At home with Ali May 14, 2012, 5:48 pm

    This is a wonderful post Rashmi and I am going to store away your questions to ponder. It surprised me when after the birth of my first child I decided to give up my work and become a stay at home mum. I always thought I would happily return to work. I don’t regret my decision but I have niggling worries about what will happen when the kids go to school and slowly find their way in the world. Making space for our true selves is so important, thank you for sharing this.

    • Rashmie May 17, 2012, 12:29 pm

      Ali,
      I could relate with you when you say that you surprised yourself by giving up work after your first child was born. I felt the same way, too.
      But, after giving up work, I found other aspects of myself that led to me discovering passions that I had not given much attention to, earlier. I hope I can work on these interests and make them grow.
      Seeing your blog, I feel you’re immensely creative, Ali. I do think your blog can grow in so many ways. May be this could be your calling? I encourage you to sit down with those questions to understand your current preference and priorities….
      Thank you, Ali, for sharing yourself so genuinely….
      Much love…

  • Susan Case May 14, 2012, 7:16 pm

    Rashmi – this is a beautiful post. I”ll pin it. Wonderful, heartwarming and enlightening. Thank you for sharing so much.

    • Rashmie May 17, 2012, 12:31 pm

      Thank you, dear Susan. Glad you liked reading :-)

  • Jen Fischer May 14, 2012, 8:34 pm

    I’m currently juggling being at home with our toddler and baby with running a film production company with my husband and trying to make it all work. It’s certainly a challenge, but it’s important to me to have both – to be able to focus on my little ones and have them with me (not someone else), especially during these early years, but also to nurture and develop my creativity and be engaged in making film projects. We shot a feature film last summer and, as a producer, I was running all over getting things for the film with the toddler in the back and asking people to help me load things into the car since I was also 7 months pregnant. Yes, it was hard, but I wouldn’t change it. Where I still fail, though, is getting enough time for me to rest up or have a break from it all, which is also necessary. I do try to make sure I eat well and exercise, as this part of nurturing my physical health helps, but sometimes my mental and emotional health takes a toll from trying to do it all.

    • Rashmie May 17, 2012, 12:36 pm

      Jen,
      What you’re doing is an inspiration for me and for so many moms. Wow – film production is NOT anybody’s job. I have spoken with a few people so I know the running around, the being-on-top it takes! Hats off to you for pulling it off with a toddler and pregnancy. You’re my hero!

      Good that you’re able to take care of your health by eating right and exercising. I know what you mean when you say it takes toll on your mental and emotional health. For you do need some quiet moments every once in a while to reconnect, focus, introspect. Or else, it all becomes a trap that we may be getting into without realizing for a moment.
      I hope you are able to squeeze some quiet moments in between the rush.
      All the best, Jen, for everything that you’re doing!

  • heather at wordplayouse® May 16, 2012, 2:37 am

    …you have the beginnings of a valuable parenting book, Rashmie. Someday?

    Beautiful, strengthening thoughts and words for every mother to reflect on and guide them.

    • Rashmie May 17, 2012, 12:38 pm

      Heather,
      You’re giving fuel to the sparks within me!!
      A parenting book, yes, may be ‘some day’. Though, I don’t like using that word. it makes me feel as if that day is too far. But, storybooks for kids have been on my mind and may be you’d do the illustrations for them? :-) haha!
      Glad you liked reading the article, Heather.

  • Ann May 17, 2012, 8:59 am

    I can really relate to a lot in this post. I think becoming a mother later makes me appreciate being a mother so much that I don’t want to miss out on any of it. I definitely tend neglect myself. I am bookmarking this post so I can spend sometime with exercise two – thanks for sharing Rashmie!

    • Rashmie May 17, 2012, 12:45 pm

      Ann,
      Your words – “I don’t want to miss out on any of it”- they really ring true for me. i feel the same way, though I had Pari when I was still under 30. Actually, it’s true – our kids are not going to be small and vulnerable and dependent on us for long. They won’t need to cuddle and sleep, they won’t giggle the way they do when tickled – all these moments are sheer magic and gifts that we can’t let pass.
      But, I see the part about self-neglect. We all are good at it in small or large measure, when that is something we should really think about. Neglecting health can have detrimental effects on other aspects of living, too. I have seen it myself and have woken up to it, finally! ;)

  • Suchita May 17, 2012, 3:01 pm

    very beautiful post… and very inspiring quizzies .. atleast I was happy to get more no than yes..
    Well.. for the answer to your question…There are so many things which I wanted to do , but unable to do..
    1. Dance: I am not a dancer.. I love dancing.. but I dance very bad.. But yes..I wanted to learn salsa with my husband.. But it didnt work-out, as he is not much interested, and we both are shy to dance together.
    2. Entrepreneurship: To setup something of my own, some day..I dont want to be a working woman all my life.. I want to do something of my own.. no idea, where to start. But, I know, I will do it someday.

  • MomWithaDot May 19, 2012, 8:55 am

    Lovely post! Its my first visit here and was perfectly timed, I’d say, considering I’m about to revamp a few things and make some changes to my lifestyle. Thank you !

  • Suchita May 24, 2012, 10:32 pm

    Hey, I like this pic very much… this has such a visual appeal..and I tend to view this pic everytime i visit here..

  • Melissa @ The Chocolate Muffin Tree June 20, 2012, 5:28 pm

    Beautiful post! You are such a wonderful writer. Thanks for the introspection.

  • Gina from www.willowday.com October 10, 2012, 2:08 pm

    Well written and thought provoking. I think these questions are good ongoing questions.

    A balanced life:
    there are times where I like to joke that I’ve been almost “addicted” to our children … wanting to keep them 100% within my site, within ear shot and taking part in their lives 100…ok 99% of the time. I simply could not get enough of them. Period…. and that is time consuming, to say the least. (… I do still listen to their breathing at night and sneak a kiss while they’re sleeping);
    however, in the past…year to 6 months…I’ve noticed that there is an age and time where more independence naturally just happens and that I, as a parent, am embracing this, too. It’s am amazing period.

    A thought that helped me to bridge this about one year ago, was when I realized that all of the children’s goals and measurable accomplishments which were important to me (reading, writing, spelling, manners… learning 3 languages fluently by age 5, etc) meant very little to them. I realized that these were just things that they took for granted (although I fretting over and worked very hard to manage); just a part of who they were and … nonchalantly: no big deals. When I stepped back from the situation, I realized with humor and confidence that this was only the foundation (and a good one) we’ve laid for the children and now, we were entering a phase where their own ambitions, desires and free will were going to propel them — and it is equally exciting to witness.

    I also realized the grace of life: this was a natural period in life to take more room for myself, my goals, pleasures, and personal interests. Taking this space for myself is an equally important education for children, as well.

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