Don't Lose Your Sexual Self to Motherhood, Says 'Naked Mom' Brooke Burke

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No doubt the toughest and best job of all is being a parent. "Mother" is easily the most revered word in the human language. It's an identity that is universally understood, yet interpreted uniquely by every woman who inhabits it. And regardless of whatever other responsibilities or aspirations we have in life, most of us would agree that nothing matters as much. But that passion, and the overwhelming love that drives it, can be dangerous if you don't know how to handle the hairpin curves and switchbacks that mark this road. Like any adventure, motherhood can be thrilling, and it can also be harrowing. No wonder we all occasionally lose sight of where we're going. It's time to pull over, cut the engine, and reconsider the road map you've been using. We've allowed social pressure, popular media, and our own insecurities to manipulate us into believing that "selfless" is the ultimate seal of approval for any mother. Check out that word again, and consider what it really means: the absence of self. That cannot possibly be a good thing, unless you plan to trade your sweats for sackcloth and go live alone on a very tall mountain for a very long time. Spare yourself the angst and altitude sickness, and strive for something more attainable and empowering: self-awareness.

Naked Mom

I found that on live TV, of all places. I never expected that being a celebrity contestant on Dancing with the Stars would prove to be a turning point in my life, but it absolutely was. For the first time ever, I didn't believe in myself. I wanted more than anything to give up and limp away, but the love and support of my family pushed me forward, and I learned how to check in with myself, truly count on a partner, and to commit wholeheartedly to the challenge at hand.

We all know that good communication is at the core of any successful relationship, whether it's a business partnership, a romance, or the bond between mother and child. Knowing this and actually putting it into practice are two different things, of course. I remember too well the evening that I overheard my ten-year-old screaming something nasty at her younger sister. I was about to march in and ground her on the spot, when I suddenly realized something that made me literally stop in my tracks: She was imitating what she had learned from me. Like plenty of moms out there, I've been known to verbally lash out sometimes in moments of frustration and stress. Ashamed as I was to recognize my own bad behavior in my daughter, it did serve as a good reminder: Our kids hear everything, and they remember it, and it sticks. That night, I thought about my daughter's behavior for a while, then decided to talk to her about it. Our chat—and the effort I made to genuinely connect with her, instead of merely reacting to her—produced better results than knee-jerk punishment would have (which isn't to downplay the value of a well-earned time-out or grounding!). That day when I heard my own words from my daughter's mouth, I understood how ugly I sometimes sound. But I also realized that just stepping back and "checking in" with each other is vital when you're determined to give your heart without losing your mind. It's a technique I've been practicing in the "real world" as well as Mommyville, and it really does work.

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