What does a well-nourished life look like for you as a wife, mom & triathlon competitor?
If you had asked me what a well-nourished life looked like 10 years ago when I
started my mothering journey, I would have said something like sharing weekly
meals with friends, coffee dates, and spontaneous adventures. My firstborn’s
incredibly easy-going nature afforded me the opportunity to travel and explore with
him where we lived, which was between the Middle East and Boston in his early years.
Then ask me that same question 5 years ago, after dealing with years of secondary
infertility, but being blessed with our twins, I would have told you that I’m sorry I
don’t have time to write about it.
I didn’t know what “well-nourished” was when I was just trying to survive our days with meager finances and a spouse who was a full-time student.
I was so grateful to have our miracle babies, but I thought that also
meant I couldn’t admit how difficult they were. My insecurity in trying to meet all
three of my kids’ needs was masked by the confident exterior I painted on my face
And just 3 years ago, when our 4th child (surprise!) arrived and I had twins under the
age of 2, I would have told you I’m just doing my best to keep everyone alive but
honestly, my body feels like it’s falling apart at the seams! During that time, a friend
tried to get me to join a gym with childcare, but I excused the idea as impossible, still
scraping by with 4 kids in a high cost of living area. Eventually I hit a wall of extreme
burnout, got seriously depressed, and various parts of my body did require surgery,
starting with my back.
In response to those very difficult years, I’ve come to see the nourishment of my
body, soul, and spirit as intertwined, vitally important, and not something that can
be pushed aside till some arbitrary time in the future. I’m not exactly referring to
work/life balance but more the idea of devoting time to nurturing my full identity–
not excluding my mom identity but not limited to it either. We change throughout
life, but there are parts of our being that are always there, even if not fully expressed
in some seasons. The key is staying in touch with our talents, interests and
attributes, expressing what we can in the chapter we are in, and being content with
what has to wait for another time.
From your perspective, what is one thing busy moms can do to increase a sense of health and happiness?
I’ve learned to create little windows of time for self-exploration, even if that means
giving up social media for months. I’ve gotten back in touch with the things that
make my heart beat faster, that bring tears to my eyes and laughter to my lips, and
I’m bringing those things back into my life. I dream, plan and reflect in a journal, and
I read to keep my mind engaged in the bigger world and in all the areas of my
interests. Listening to books and podcasts, with wireless headphones, makes my
cleaning much more entertaining.
I’m also doing my best to say what I need and ask for help instead of just trying to
pick myself up by my bootstraps. I believe that we can do a lot more than we think
we can when we share the burden of parenting by sharing our struggles with our spouses and authentic friends whom we can learn from and lean upon. I love the
saying, “Don’t mom alone!”
Looking back over this last decade of parenting really motivates me to nourish my
own interests and my children’s. I’m trying to express the artist, writer, musician,
athlete, social butterfly, community organizer, and refugee aid activist– just not all at
once! Right now I’m training for a triathlon, which not only keeps my body healthy
and strong, but also gives me something (outside of household chores and child-
rearing) on which to focus my mental energy. I like to visualize different parts of the
race and think through how to better improve my training schedule. I find it very
uplifting to work hard toward a goal, never give up, and just get stronger. And really,
the way I approach my physical training has become the way I parent and approach
other areas of my life: not seeking perfection but greater strength instead.
Do you have a favorite recipe you would be willing to share?
1/4 of a watermelon diced
1/2 of a cantaloupe diced
3 mangoes diced
1/2 of a red onion diced
1 or 2 jalapeño minced
1 bunch of fresh cilantro chopped finely
Juice from 1 or 2 limes
Salt and pepper to taste
Play with the ratios of the ingredients to get the flavors you desire!
Serve with lime chips. Also delicious with white fish. This recipe is time consuming with all the dicing but a wise older gentleman once told me that cutting fruits and vegetables while practicing mindfulness makes each cut less of a chore and more of a relaxing experience. Enjoy!