I was honored to have this essay accepted for the Kindred Mom Healthy Soul series, published in April, 2019. Kindred Mom is an online community of women dedicated to helping moms thrive in, and celebrate the small victories of, messy and beautiful motherhood.
“What would you know about a healthy soul?” my inner critic hisses as I sit in front of a blinking cursor.
I hesitate. Tune in. And I hear the usual discordant notes.
You yelled at your son this morning, remember? You snapped at your husband. You made your niece feel bad when she asked for a snack. You don’t have a healthy soul…why would you even try to write about one?
For a moment, I sit slumped in my chair, deflated like one of those latex balloons six days after the birthday party.
It’s all true. I did do all those things—just today. My mind wanders across the borders of the past twenty-four hours and explores the days and weeks that have come before. Memories of impatient moments, begrudging service, harsh words, and discontented thoughts sweep through my imagination like a foul wind bearing the stench of so many dirty diapers.
Frustrated, I push back from the desk and brush hair-needing-a-wash off my forehead. I give up on trying to define ‘soul,’ because ‘that invisible inner person’ is the best I can do. My mind takes off on a fly-over of my motherhood.
Examining patterns and perusing the everyday, I notice that more often than not, my inner person feels stretched out, tired out, and emptied out.
I often heft along a load of guilt, insufficiency, crankiness, and even boredom. One of these alone doesn’t exactly make for a definition of health, but all of them together? I ought to be in soul-ICU.
The critic, whom I’ve named Gladys—like a stray cat who has come around too often; she seemed entitled to a name—is right. My soul isn’t healthy.