"We Birth the World and Carry So Much"—How Multi-Hyphenate Kai Avent-deLeon Mothers Herself

"We Birth the World and Carry So Much"—How Multi-Hyphenate Kai Avent-deLeon Mothers Herself

Mother is a verb. It’s an action, a pursuit—and an intention. And, to absolutely no one’s surprise, it can be all-consuming. Being a mom tends to make putting yourself first (or, let’s be honest, even putting yourself second) a feat of radical proportions. But mothering ourselves is the only way mothering others is possible. Whether it’s carving out a solo ritual, granting ourselves permission to exist beyond the title of ‘mother,’ or simply finding time to rest, taking care of ourselves helps us show up as our best selves for our families and our communities. It’s not always perfect, but it’s a more than worthy practice. In our new series, Mothered, we explore the many ways that motherhood profoundly deepens our connection with ourselves—and how self-nurturing fuels us to show up for others.

We spoke with Brooklyn-based founder, restaurateur, community advocate, and mom, Kai Avent-deLeon about some ways we can all nurture ourselves better. “As cliche as it may sound,” says Kai, “My son is a great reminder of what's important.” Keep reading for 6 powerful perspectives.

Let yourself be a shape-shifter

“As women and as mothers, there is an expectation that we're supposed to be providers and nurturers, strong and soft... We're always playing into these roles that are placed upon us. But this doesn't give us the freedom to just be who we are. It’s important to have time and space where you don't have to be whatever society, work, or even your community is telling you to be. Because there's space for all of it. We're different versions of ourselves, depending on whatever phase we're in. And we need to honor each version and not judge ourselves.”

Take time to rest

“We're all individually, and collectively, going through so many transitions at such a rapid pace. There’s a constant need to be processing the information we're getting. There is a theme, in our modern life, to put pressure on yourself to do this… to keep up with this pace… to do more. But we are burning ourselves out. With all of that, there's really no reset or time to rest, and I think for women, you know, we birth the world and carry so much. We need places where we can rest and shut off and not feel guilty for it.”

Commit to your own growth

“I look at my mom and our relationship. She and I are different and also similar, as I think most mother daughter duos are, but she has always been so dedicated to her own growth and it's really contributed to my approach with always wanting to work on self and always exploring different modalities and practices. That's kind of what I think of when I think of the concept of mother—an energy that's committed to growth.

For example, there are certain women in my life who are so kind and warm, and who make people feel so good. I realized that I wanted people to feel that way around me, too, so I've been working on unlocking what that looks like for me. I come from a family of West Indian women, and West Indian culture has a tendency to be a bit direct and hard. So, I've been trying to shift that. Even just saying “I love you” to my grandmother, it’s not something that is the norm. But I'll make sure that I give her a big hug and a kiss and I say “I love you” or do something sweet for her. I want my son to see his mom being really affectionate and soft.”

Trust your people

“I don't necessarily have a lot of mom friends. I like to just connect with people naturally. Sometimes, I get a little envious when I see my friends with kids who have all these parent friends. But for me, I just want to like you as a person—and if you have kids, that's a bonus! I love to just bring my son out on adult hangouts. But I want to make sure that whoever I do have around him, can be a guide for him, and I feel really confident in my existing community being able to provide that because they're just incredible human beings.”

Find what makes you feel good

“Last year was the first time I really asked myself what it looks like to really love myself. You can get as much praise as you want from the world. You can get as much praise as you want from social media. But you need to feel it for yourself. I love talking in the mirror to myself and I do a lot of affirmations. I also like to do happy baby poses in the morning because it feels very playful! I go to yoga, I do meditation, I do all the cliche things. Even dancing in the house—I know that when I'm dancing in the house that I'm feeling good about myself. I love going out and dancing to music and eating really healthy food that makes me feel nourished. Those are all acts of mothering—really nurturing my spirit and my soul.

Be compassionate with yourself

“Children can be a great mirror. There's so much about who I am that I feel like I've been able to reflect on and sit with since becoming a mom. I definitely think that since becoming a mom, trying to be super present has been my general MO. I'm so conscious of how much I'm on my phone around my child, and I definitely slip into those moments where I'm like, “Oh God, I've been on here too long.” More than ever though, we really need to extend compassion to ourselves.”


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