Your pleasure is productive. It produces a happy YOU! A happy you is a strong you. A happy you is a relaxed you. A happy you makes you a more present parent and partner. But you’ve forgotten this. Your pleasure is no longer a main focus of yours. It's an afetrthought. In your twenties you had all the time in the world to plan fun weekends with the girls or go out on romantic dates. All of this was for your pleasure and connection. Experiencing pleasure makes us feel happy and we soften into ourselves. It relaxes our bodies and minds. Pleasure opens our hearts. Pleasure strengthens our connections to self and others. But, you think you have to put your pleasure on the back burner.
Motherhood was somehow an invisible portal you walked through where you view your pleasure as being self-indulgent and unnecessary now. Your happiness relies on everyone’s happiness around you. You tell yourself you will be happy when your family is happy. So, you strive to bring them happiness which results in you doing more and more and more. What if you’ve got it backwards? What if your pleasure and your happiness is the cornerstone of their happiness? A relaxed and open-hearted mother is the foundation they need for their exploration and healthy development. Instead of focusing so much energy on them, what if you gave some TLC to yourself?
Motherhood triggers poverty consciousness. Poverty consciousness is that nagging belief that there is never enough. Suddenly there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Not enough money, sleep, time or energy to do everything so you started prioritizing needs. The laundry needs to get to get done. The kids need to get fed. Groceries need to be bought. Meals need to be made. Toys need to be picked up. Money needs to be made to give your kids a comfortable life.
Poverty consciousness is one-way fear rears its head in motherhood. Worry is the other. After I gave birth and we were discharged from the hospital it hit me. I am now responsible to keep this tiny little human alive. I’m responsible to meet all of her needs and give her a good life. It is an incredible responsibility that can make us second guess our every decision. Caring for your baby seems so much more important than pleasure. I get it. I’ve been there.
Motherhood is a million other roles lumped into one. You are the keeper of schedules. You are the activities coordinator. You are the lifelong learner reading books and articles to be the best mom you can be. You are the researcher thoughtfully comparing car seats, strollers, bottles and on and on. You are the taxi who needs to shuttle them around town for lessons, school and activities. You are the birthday party planner. You are the meal planner, executive chef, sous chef and dishwasher. You are the lifeguard and the first aid center. You are so busy doing everything for your kids and worrying about their happiness, that you’ve put your own at the very bottom of the list. You can fill an entire day running around giving them a good childhood and then crashing with her husband at night. You believe that giving them a happy childhood is providing them with experiences and things to do. Doing is seen as more valuable than being. Pleasure brings us into the present moment and helps us embrace our nature. We are human beings not human doings but we seem to have forgetten this. What if it doesn’t have to be this way?
What if you started prioritizing your pleasure and doing what feels good to you? This year I did just this. I shifted from the super attentive, anxious mom that always focused on my kids over myself to the relaxed and present mom I’d always imagined I’d be. Sometimes my pleasure is in a preparing a delicious meal that I’ll cook for myself knowing that my kids will never eat it. Sometimes my pleasure is in putting on a sexy dress and makeup even if I'm just hanging around my house. Sometimes pleasure is staying in my bathrobe all morning. Slow flow mornings without lunches to pack and kids to get to school can feel like heaven to me so I leave a weekend day open for this. This is when I'll find my kids buried in a pillow fort or lost in a world of imagination. They are experts at pleasure, play and enjoyment. They just need the down time to get creative.
Sometimes my pleasure is in dancing or watching dance videos online. Sometimes my pleasure is in going out to lunch on my own and slowly eating my meal while I read a book for fun. I became a speed eater in motherhood so I could be there for my kids. Eating slowly and deliberately, chewing and tasting every bite can feel so good. Pleasure doesn’t need to be a vacation to the beach although this is certainly one option. Pleasure can be found in the day to day moments. Sometimes pleasure is found in my hammock or hiking in the woods. Sometimes my pleasure is in window shopping. Sometimes my pleasure is a candlelit bath with sensual music. Sometimes my pleasure is a self-massage with warm oil. Sometimes my pleasure is making love. What brings me pleasure differs from day to day and moment to moment.
My invitation to you is to to reconnect with what brings you pleasure. This might be something you loved to do as a child. Play brings us pleasure but sometimes we take ourselves so seriously that we forget this. Sometimes my pleasure is found all alone, sometimes with my husband, and sometimes as a family. Sometimes my pleasure is in bouncing on a trampoline so I plan a family outing to Launch. My kids love it when I play with them instead of watching from the sidelines. Sometimes my pleasure is sourced from taking my dogs for a walk and spontaneously climbing a tree. As a child I had a tree fort that was a space of exploration and comfort. Climbing trees brings me this same feeling today. Sometimes my pleasure is in baking chocolate chip cookies, not for my kids and not with my kids. I can take pleasure in baking cookies just me and my inner child. Sometimes my pleasure is in blowing bubbles with my kids. Sometimes my pleasure is watching one of my favorite childhood movies. The more deeply I connect to my inner child, the more deeply I connect to my daughters.
Focusing on my pleasure makes me a stronger and more present parent and partner. My pleasure fuels me for all the million other roles motherhood requires. My pleasure requires that I set boundaries which can feel uncomfortable at first especially for those of us who have a habit of pleasing and accommodating others.
The relationship between women and pleasure is also muddled by cultural norms. Fun fact, female pleasure (specifically the clitoris) is omitted from most sexual education curricula. This matters because culturally we are still uncomfortable with the idea of female pleasure. As women we are conditioned from early childhood that our value is sourced in taking care of others and fitting in. We are taught to prioritize people pleasing over personal pleasure. We support this cultural myth of mothers as martyrs who always put their kids first.
Let's change this together! Do something today that brings you pleasure. Make your pleasure a priority. Do one thing that sparks joy in you. You might think, “I don’t have time for that”. And I understand where you are coming from. Believe me, I felt this way once too. What I’ve found is just the opposite though. The more I focus on my pleasure as equal to all members of my family, the more energy I have, the more fulfilled I am and the they benefit from this so much. Do more of what make you happy! Your pleasure is purposeful and productive. Your pleasure has tremendous value. Your pleasure is your joy. Lean into this.