In the past week, a three-year-old video of Jada Pinkett Smith went viral.
In the interview, her daughter, Willow, asks her the question, “How hard is it being a wife and mother?”
Her six-minute answer brims with wisdom and truth, as she articulates the central dilemma of motherhood—how do we as mothers take care of ourselves as well as our families?
“It’s been very difficult being able to balance doing the things that I want to do and have the freedoms that I want to have, and also being responsible for you and your brothers and your father,” Pinkett Smith says. “And I’m constantly—every day—trying to figure out how to help you figure out your dreams…at the same time assisting Daddy in his dreams, assisting your brothers in their dreams, and then trying to figure out what my dreams are,” she admits.
Pinkett Smith explains the daily routine she employs to get clear about what her own needs are.
“Every day when I wake up in the morning, I go into meditation. I ask for guidance… and I get focused.” Pinkett Smith says that she reminds herself every day to take care of herself.
Like so many mothers, she admits to having lost herself for a spell after the birth of her children.
“When you and Jayden (Pinkett Smith’s son) were first born, I’d forgotten how to take care of myself because you guys were my world. You guys were my everything.”
Speaking directly to her daughter as her mother Adrienne looks on, Pinkett Smith fiercely says, “You always have to remember to take care of you first and foremost. Because when you stop taking care of yourself, you get out of balance and you really forget how to take care of others.”
She goes on to put a fresh spin on the ‘put your own oxygen mask on first’ saying.
“I’ll tell you something about being a mother. And some of the messaging that we get in this country about being a mother. That you have to completely sacrifice everything. And I think that the re-messaging that we as mothers need to have and gravitate to is that you have to take care of yourself in order to have the alignment and the power to take care of others at the capacity that we do.”
Many women relate to Pinkett Smith’s journey, which has taken her a long time to figure out.
“So what I’ve had to do and what I’ve had to learn is how to get more balanced. And over the years, each year, each day, I get more and more and more and more in balance. More and more and more and more in alignment. And you know what? I get more and more happy. And the very thing that I thought would make you unhappy or make Jayden unhappy or make Daddy unhappy actually is fulfilling for you guys as well. The more happy I am and the more fulfilled I am, it works for the family. And when I’m not? It doesn’t.”
Addressing the guilt that so many moms face as we chase happiness for ourselves and our children, Pinkett Smith sums up her philosophy.
“In order to be responsible for my own happiness, I need to create new messaging. And I look at women, I look at mothers, and I really feel like there’s a lot of unhappiness going on. It’s because of the messaging that we’ve gotten. That you’re a bad mother if you do anything that makes you happy. And that messaging will drive somebody crazy.
You have a right to be happy.“
View the entire video here:
And if we do get burt out and a bit lost, this is how we can take care of ourselves:
Author: Lynn Shattuck
Editor: Renée Picard