Healthy Mama

Scrawled across my bathroom mirror is a two word phrase in blue dry erase marker, "Healthy Mama". Underneath I've written three other words - "spiritually," "emotionally," "physically."

It's a daily reminder to be the kind of mama I want to be - to prepare myself now, in the last bit of the waiting, to be that mom.

Working with at-risk youth and their families, I've seen strong evidence that healthy parents make for healthy children. Children will eat as you do, handle stress as you do, exercise as you do, pray as you do, handle anger, sadness, grief, joy, thanksgiving and a host of other emotions as you do. They learn from you what it means to be a whole and healthy person or what it means to be a fractured and unhealthy person. They model your behavior and learn from you how to engage with the world and what it throws at us.

The healthier we are - spiritually, emotionally, physically - the healthier our children will be.

Unfortunately in our society it is incredibly easy not to be healthy. So much availability, so much abundance, so many choices - the options often overwhelm us, making it more and more difficult to choose the healthy one.

Instead of basing our choices on what we know is good for us, we base our choices on what is most appealing - who has the best marketing campaign, what has the best packaging, what will provide the most instant gratification. The effort to live lives of simplicity and moderation is a thousand times harder in our prepackaged society. 

While living in South Africa, I learned some hard lessons on "less is more." No more tragically than when my computer crashed when I was still living in the village of Mmametlhake.

For most Peace Corps volunteers, our computers were our life lines back to a world we understood and knew how to navigate. They were emails home, they were Skype conversations (when a strong Internet connection was available), they were television, stereo, photo album and escape from all the unfamiliar around us. But the great crash of 2009, six months into my stay, and the subsequent three month stint without a computer forced me to reach out into the world and find new lifelines.

It forced me to engage more with the world around me. It forced me to read more books in a three month period than I probably have in any one year of my life. It forced me to grow comfortable in the quiet and to sit in the stillness. It forced me to engage in relationship with people and with God in a way I never had. It forced me to live a simpler, less is more kind of existence.

And I will say, I was healthier - spiritually, emotionally, physically - and more content in those three months than any three months before or after.

Even during the days when I did have a computer, living simply always brought about more satisfaction. Always made for more joy. Always meant for a healthier me.

Now the makings for a healthier me look a little different.

It requires saying no to instant gratification. It requires taking the more scenic route to my wants and often my needs. It requires diligence and perseverance. It requires financial wisdom with an extra dose of thrift. It requires a deeper understanding of my body as sacrifice and living the life of a good steward. It requires life in relationship both with God and with people.

Healthy Mama is a concept for me which I hope is altering the way I live and will alter the way my daughter lives. I'm hoping Healthy Mama will be a life long example for her of how to be a whole person - complete in herself and completed by God.

I'm hoping because if it wasn't important to me to be healthy before, it is now. Not for my own sake, but for hers