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How is your other half?

In our backyard stands a beautiful tree. A liquid ambar that is at least 20 meters tall.

She makes a heap of colorful mess for three months of the year, but bathes the back deck in gorgeous, dappled shade for seven more. So we forgive her.

Not long before we moved here, the previous owner cut half the tree off. Top to bottom, straight down the middle. Like splitting a piece of firewood.


Like it was never there.

It always made me sad – this beautiful, damaged tree.

Last week I was sitting in the early sun writing procrastinating, when my eyes fell on the missing half.

And I was filled with a ridiculous delight to see that it’s growing back. Little by little, tiny branch by tiny branch, the balance is returning.

Gradually, and with the right amount of care – light, water and time – it is regrowing, rebuilding, reconstructing the part of itself that was cut away.

We all have a heavy half. The half that needs to get things done, that’s responsible, accountable. It’s the half that makes sure the kids get to school on time, won’t forget to pack snacks for the doctors appointment, pays the bills, turns up to work every day, sweeps the floor, mows the lawn and cooks dinner.

But what about your other half?

The half that is passionate, creative, spontaneous? The half that makes out with your husband, wears red lipstick, writes poetry, dances in the kitchen, dreams of great big trips, and reads for fun?

The half that fills you out and makes you balanced, well-rounded, whole. How’s that half going? Is it looking healthy and well-tended?

Mine? It could be better.

Heart-shaped tree cuttingPhoto by Brooke McAlary

Let me preface this by saying:

I really do love my life. I love my husband and I love my kids – wholly, completely, unconditionally. I choose the welfare of them over everything and keeping our family unit strong is my biggest job. I take it incredibly seriously.

But since our first child was born, I have been that tree. Half of me was unceremoniously cut off. Top to bottom, chopped down, thrown away. As though she never was.

My kids didn’t do this to me. I did this to me. Because I forgot about my other half. As though she never was.

I threw myself wholly into parenting. I didn’t accept help. I didn’t take time. I didn’t slow down. I didn’t give myself the care I needed to be a strong, protective, well-rounded, balanced tree.

And the years that followed saw me lean dangerously. Had the wind picked up, I would have fallen down. And a tree that has fallen down can offer shade to no one.

I’d cut off important parts of myself, pretending they didn’t matter. I pretended I didn’t need time alone. Didn’t need to write. Didn’t need strong, positive relationships outside my family.

But these things matter. A lot.

So here I am, tending the garden, working on my other half. And I’ve started to grow back. Different, but better.

And today I just wanted to ask you to check in with your other half. Maybe give her a little attention. Round things out. Let her know she is important.

We first published this post a few years ago, but man, it’s such a good, timeless reminder, I felt it worth bringing up front again, for those of you who missed it the first time. Thanks for your words here, Brooke. -Tsh

Reading Time:

2 minutes





  1. Wendy

    What a lovely metaphor and reminder–well done!

    • Brooke McAlary

      Thank you, Wendy. So glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Catherine

    What I love most about this metaphor is that you have explained something that has been percolating in the back of my mind and heart for a long time. Thank you! I always felt bad thinking about losing a part of me and couldn’t explain it because I thought it always sounded like I was blaming my family for this loss. Oh, I just love this! I need to tend the half I lopped off myself. Thank you so much for clarifying my thoughts on this.

    • Brooke McAlary

      No problem, Catherine. It was such a relief to me too, when I was finally able to articulate that I was in control of both halves and it wasn’t at all my family who brandished the chainsaw (to put a dramatic spin on the metaphor 😉 ).

  3. Sarah @ Little Bus on the Prairie

    I felt for a long time that that part of me was missing and I’ve just recently rediscovered my love for writing. It’s a good feeling to have that outlet and not let that part of me atrophe.

    • Brooke McAlary

      Sarah, that is awesome! Writing really pulled me out of the dark too, and has helped (and continues to help) my other half regrow. It’s a powerful thing and I’m so glad to hear you’ve found something that works for you. x

  4. Kerri

    Oh my goodness… what a talented writer you are! This was beautifully written. I have five children and still work outside the home so, boy, do I get this. Thank you for writing!

    • Missy Robinson

      Me, too! Five children, one husband, one dog and a big house with responsibilities along with working in an office daily! Yikes!

    • Brooke McAlary

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Kerri. I’m glad it’s hitting home with you and your busy days.

  5. Christine

    Exactly what i needed to read right now. Thank you for this.

    • Brooke McAlary

      I’m glad it’s helped, Christine. Thank you!

  6. Susie

    Loved this. Thank you for your honesty. x

    • Brooke McAlary

      Pleasure, Susie. I’m so glad it resonated.

  7. Jen

    What a powerful perspective You hit the nail on the head…thank you!

  8. Grace from London

    I am that tree. Pray with me that the gust won’t blow whilst the other half grows back….

    • Brooke McAlary

      Thoughts and prayers are with you, Grace. I know how tough it is when you’re leaning so hard to the heavy side. Just give your other half as much time as you can and take it easy on yourself. xx

  9. Ellen

    How desperately I need to simplify my life! Thank you for reminding me with your eloquent words and thoughts!

    • Brooke McAlary

      It’s a pleasure, Ellen. Baby steps are the best way to go, in my experience. Just take it one day at a time.

  10. Melanie

    How wonderfully you put this. And oh! how true it is! I can relate as well, I did that for ten years, and unfortunately for me, the wind did come and I did fall. But thankfully God in his mercy allowed me to see that and I’ve slowly started to rebuild my life in a totally different way. My creative self was awakened, I’ve started taking time to nourish that side of me, and in doing so…my life sings a new song..which is “slow”. And I have never felt more complete.

    • Brooke McAlary

      That made my heart sing, Melanie. Well done on rebuilding, because it is a tough gig. But slow is beautiful and I hope it’s bringing you loads of happiness. x

  11. Tiff

    Thank you for this. I especially loved:

    “My kids didn’t do this to me. I did this to me. Because I forgot about my other half. As though she never was.”

    Sometimes I feel tired of hearing (for the upteenth time) that having children ruins you as an woman. That you will only be a shadow of your former self. A family requires sacrifices. There are stretches where you don’t feel like yourself (isn’t this true of any intense endeavor that takes energy and a long period of time?). BUT, as you so eloquently put it, we can choose to take care of ourselves. We can choose to nurture our souls and nourish our bodies in the ways that we need. Even if it’s just a little bit each day. A little bit can go a long way…..

    • Brooke McAlary

      I could not have said it any better, Tiff. Thank you for summarising it so succinctly.

  12. Annie Hindman

    Thank you. I needed this today as I feed my baby son his breakfast and stare out the backyard at our beautiful tree.

    • Brooke McAlary

      Such a pleasure, Annie. 🙂

  13. Missy Robinson

    You have captured the essence of what so many of us feel! Thank you for the permission and reminder to tend our other half … even when it’s just a little fertilizer and sunshine from time to time. I needed to hear this today. I appreciate you pointing out that we do it to ourselves and that we can then take initiative to reverse our behavior.

    Wonderfully written!

    • Brooke McAlary

      “even when it’s just a little fertilizer and sunshine from time to time” I love this, Missy. Thank YOU!

  14. Ashley

    Lovely post, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. And I realized that if I don’t do something now ten years from now I will be lonely, unhappy, and resentful towards my family even though it is my own choices leafing me down this path. I love the tree metaphor, simplifying a complex problem often helps find solutions that weren’t visible before.

    • Brooke McAlary

      It’s funny, I hadn’t been able to grasp the idea completely either, until I sat in the sunshine and saw that tree growing back. It is one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in a long time.

  15. eila

    I ADORE this post. Oh my gosh, it’s just what I needed to read today. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. As moms, I think we all feel this way to some extent, but you beautifully conveyed it.

    • Brooke McAlary

      Oh, thank you, Eila. You’ve made my day!

  16. Shelly

    This is amazing because immediately before reading this, I was lamenting the fact that I always seem to have tons of things to do, but I never have time to do those little things that are so important to me. Reading, writing, going for walks, experiencing utter silence. These are things that may not seem necessary, but, in the long run, actually are.

    • Brooke McAlary

      I agree, Shelly. Those things really are important and, actually, necessary. Not easy, mind you, but I guess worthwhile things are rarely easy!

  17. Dee

    Boy, you really spoke to ME today. This year, for 2014, I’ve been *trying* to tend to my other half. In small ways it is working. I’ve been writing most days. But my heavy half seems to be REALLY heavy. Really asking a lot of me. I feel as though I have to fight for my other half or for the heavy half not to take over the other half.

    Thanks for speaking to me today.

    • Brooke McAlary

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Dee. It’s tough, and honestly there are many days where, by virtue of its heaviness, the heavy side wins. I think it’s really important to take the time when we can, so that when we can’t we won’t be quite so overwhelmed and risk uprooting ourselves. You’re doing well if you’re already fighting for it!

  18. Lisa

    I did this to myself when my children were born. Now that they are older, I’m finding the need to find my other half and reclaim who I used to be.

    • Brooke McAlary

      Go find her, Lisa! I’m sure she’s still there, waiting for her time to shine again. x

  19. Stacy Busta

    I love, love your message! I may go buy a new tube of lipstick today;)

    • Jen @ Online Deals and Coupon Codes

      I’m glad we have the same thought! I was thinking to myself, “When’s the last time I’ve even worn makeup?”

    • Brooke McAlary

      I know it’s only a little thing, but it never fails to lift my spirits and remind me there is a whole other half to this frazzled woman. Plus, a slick of red lipstick puts a little swing in my step, you know?

  20. Jen @ Online Deals and Coupon Codes

    Beautiful article! I often forget to tend the other half. I made it my New Years Resolution to take care of myself more and do things I love, and then I got so busy with working, taking care of a family, and a home, that I completely forgot about my resolutions. Thank you for the reminder that without my other half, I’m only living my life at 50%.

    • Brooke McAlary

      It’s a pleasure, Jen!

  21. Rebecca

    Well said! I feel so blessed to have a hard working husband that makes it possible for me to stay home with my kids but I feel we are needing to make a change in our lives so that HE can work on his other half. Thanks for this encouragement!

    • Brooke McAlary

      That is such a positive and selfless way of looking at the issue of balance, Rebecca. Makes me all warm and fuzzy. 🙂

  22. Jennyroo

    This is me. Sadly. I devoted everything and every ounce of being to my children, ages 8, almost 6, and almost 3. And two weeks before Christmas my husband walked out on me. Now, I am picking up the pieces of my life, and trying to reconnenct with the whole person that I used to be so that I can go forward and try to find another partner to share this life journey with me. Thank you for sharing. It means the world.

    • Brooke McAlary

      Gosh, my thoughts are with you, Jennyroo, and I’m sorry you have to go through something so difficult. That woman is still there, she just might need a little TLC. xx

  23. ljpark

    THANK YOU! I’m now excited to work on “my other half” AND I’m so happy your tree is growing!!!!

    • Brooke McAlary

      Thank you! And good luck growing yours too.

  24. Joy

    “I didn’t accept help. I didn’t take time. I didn’t slow down.”
    How often have I done the same, even without kids yet. Thanks for this reminder.

    • Brooke McAlary

      Pleasure, Joy. Make sure you take that time to slow down. Even just for a minute! 🙂

  25. Debbie

    This was beautiful. You have a true gift with words. What a great reminder that we have the choice (and responsibility) to care for our whole selves. Thanks for this!

    • Brooke McAlary

      Thank you so much, Debbie.

  26. Kristen

    Oh my goodness. Thank you so much for this article! Just like everyone else has said, this article totally spoke to me and hit me right where I am. I’m in my first year of homeschooling my six-year-old son, as well as trying to keep my three-year-old daughter involved and entertained. Also, my husband has been working from home a lot and keeps having to ask everyone to be quiet when he’s on the phone, usually when the kids are going bonkers and want to get outside. Oh, and did I mention I’m pregnant with kiddo #3?
    All this adds up to me feeling like I have to push my needs and wants to the back burner while I try to keep this crazy awesome family organized and moving forward. Rarely do I take time just for me to bring that balance back.
    Thank you for the reminder that it’s way past time to reconnect with my other half. The half that loves taking walks when it’s windy and drizzling; that wants to read Pride and Prejudice for the twentieth time just she can yell at Elizabeth; that wants to finish writing that book I’ve been working on for the past ten years. It’s time to be sure I take care of myself so I can take care of my beloved family… and put some makeup on!

    • Brooke McAlary

      OK, you have your hands full there Kristen! And walks in the wind and drizzle? Now you’re speaking my language! It’s incredible how something so simple can really fill us up when we need it. Here’s to you taking a tiny bit more time for those drizzly walks. x

  27. Katie May

    This is so beautiful! My husband and I are both in a season of discovering that we have each let our other halves be sacrificed for the “heavy half.” As we have recognized that, God is providing us space to tend to the suffocated other half of ourselves. We are beginning to dream, imagine, and be alive once again.

    • Brooke McAlary

      That is all kinds of awesome, Katie May. My hat is off to you and your husband, because it’s not an easy thing to rectify, but oh so worth it in the moments we get it right.

  28. Alissa

    I think this is the most important thing I’ve read this year. Wow, wow, wow. I have been craving “something more” for quite some time and your words have left me wondering if the thing I am craving is really the part of ME that’s been sacrificed. Whooh. I’m going to have to let that percolate for a while. Thank you…

    • Brooke McAlary

      Wow, Alissa. Thank YOU. I’m so glad it hit the mark and resonated with you.

  29. Mel@857notebook

    You totally followed me around for the last 3.5 years and wrote this piece just for me, didn’t you? This spoke to me so deeply. Time to check-in and evaluate.

    • Brooke McAlary

      Would it be awkward if I said yes? It’s amazing how many of us are on such similar paths, isn’t it? Yet so often we feel life we’re going it alone. It’s so awesome to see that we’re definitely not alone!

  30. Cc

    Thank you so much for this!

  31. Erica Layne

    Hi Brooke! Loved this. I’ve been drafting a post that follows along similar lines, talking about the many selves we have and what we’re offering to our families. Best of luck to all of us as we tend to our other halves!

    • Brooke McAlary

      Great minds, Erica. 😉

  32. Malinda

    I feel as though I just read the pages of my journal. Thank you for posting. What a great reminder!

    • Brooke McAlary

      Such a pleasure, Malinda. Glad you enjoyed it.

  33. Melody

    Oh, so beautifully written about what happens so often to us Mommas. My other half is slowly rebuilding/rebudding…and yes, I think it will look a bit different with a new shape to it. Thank you for this encouragement! Loved the photo too!

    • Brooke McAlary

      Different is good, Melody. Different is beautiful!

  34. Pam List

    Sweet Mary in the morning! I was actually holding my breath while reading this. Before my suprise baby started school 5 years ago I was an avid scrabooker and spent lots of time singing with my music writing husband. About the time of kindergarten it all stopped. My blog is really for different reasons that I wont go into, although creating the art work is super fun sometime, but man do I miss working with all that glue and paint, paper, metal elments, earth elements. I just loved the challenge. I wanted to be a famous scrapbook artist! It sounds so ridiculous, but it really made me happy. Where on earth would I find the time now? I am sitting here staring at all my recently purchased Zentangle books that have not even been peeked at. How do I get that time… time for my other half? My other half… absolutely brilliant!


    • Brooke McAlary

      Not ridiculous at all, Pam. I think it’s about making it a priority, but also recognising that the heavy half can be just that – heavy sometimes. Good luck with your creations!

  35. Andrea

    Beautiful! Thank you for the reminder that taking time for me is important and not selfish, that there is more to me than being someone’s mom and wife.

    • Brooke McAlary

      It’s definitely not selfish, Andrea! I think we’re better people for it if we take that time. 🙂

  36. Kate

    Ah….just this:

    “…a tree that has fallen down can offer shade to no one.”


    Growing with you,
    Kate 🙂

  37. Christina Judd

    Wow. Thank you very much for sharing your heart. I am 44 and the blessed mother of just 3 year old twin girls, and resemble almost in no way whatsoever the woman I was before they came. I begged, prayed, cried, and paid a lot of money for help getting these little souls here, so I feel I have zero room to complain that I am below empty and look like h@ll all the time. I feel you have let me know its not them, its not my husband, or mother who won’t help, or anything or anyone else who is responsible for taking baby steps to reconnect with my other half. I’ll pray God show me each day how to get a few minutes of quiet so I can hear what that do (or not do better yet) each day to find some balance. Motherhood is the most beautiful expression of God’s existence in this world, and they need me in one piece, not so fragmented as I have been for 3 years now. God bless you today, and all of these wonderful mamas here who strive to create wonder in their homes and in the world. Thank you again.

    • Aimee

      We also struggled with infertility. It seems like once you’ve tried SO HARD for something that comes so easily to others you tend to feel like you’re not allowed to say that being woken throughout the night is hard or that you sometimes would like to have 20 minutes to yourself for a shower…you know, being human. It’s easier said than done but can I encourage you to realize that your journey to motherhood doesn’t in any way minimize the fact that motherhood is just hard sometimes. No one is going to think you’re ungrateful for having human needs and feelings. :-0

  38. Katie Harding

    What a wonderful reminder! You have inspired me to get a sitter for this weekend and paint the town red with my husband, I may even paint my nails and throw on some lipstick 🙂

  39. Sher

    This resonates with me deeply. Thank you for describing what every mom faces…with such eloquence. I started the mom years at 22 and feel like I never had time to discover my own adult self prior to that. As they are getting older and more independent I am carving out more time for myself…to figure out what my interests are, what do I enjoy doing in my free time, and being adventurous to try new things. When I turned 40 I wrote a list of 40 things to do before 50 and have been checking things off…it helps so much to have it written down and posted on the wall to read it each day!

  40. Sarah from Creating Contentment

    This is an amazing metaphor. It really spoke to me. Thank you Brooke from sharing, for voicing the words that I sometime struggle to get out.

  41. Kylah (@Zest e-Biz)

    Beautifully written and the perfect reminder. Thank you. I’ve been very conscious to make sure that being a mother has no become my one and only purpose in life, but I fear (for the moment) that I’ve gone too far the other way and work is taking over my life. I’ve forgotten to have fun, connect with friends outside of work and family on a regular basis and do more things for me.

    The balance is often so hard to achieve, but this metaphor will be great to remind me at time that the other side(s) will grow back if I tend to them 🙂 Thank you.

  42. Laney | Crash Test Mummy

    Just so so good Brooke. We do do it to ourselves, don’t we? I did the same. I once remember having some time to myself to go shopping. I was completely lost. The light side of me didn’t know who she was, let alone what she wanted. Never have I felt such a disconnect from myself (not that my former self was a shopoholic or anything!).

  43. Maggie

    Tsh thanks for reposting this. Your timing is uncanny 🙂 I love Brooke’s writing. One of the wonders of the internet is this virtual community that you can dip into to find support or just to know that you are not the only one in a given situation. Thanks for the joys and blessings and mental discourses that you both bring to the world.

  44. Marian Vischer

    It’s like your write my own biography in one beautiful post. I’m saving this one as a favorite.

  45. Greer Oharah

    Oh yes, what a poignant way of reminding me of this precious truth. Thank you so much for your words.

  46. Beth Williams


    I can relate to this completely! For the last few years I have been assisting in the care of my aging dad and working full-time. I neglected some parts of me. I even asked God for spiritual whitespace. I saw myself neglecting Him. You get so busy with the daily grind that you forget about the other half. The part of you that loves to sit and listen to Praise music, take long walks, cook meals, etc.

    Now I am whole again! God answered my prayers and gave me time for myself and Him!

    Blessings 🙂

  47. Ann

    So well said!!! A gift! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

  48. Kelly

    This has been my struggle for *years* but only recently has it been something I’ve decided to deal with head-on. I knew my life had to be more, and I never really thought of it in terms of my “other half,” but rather, how can my life become more “whole-hearted” if I’m only using one piece of me? It’s been a hard thing to learn but I’m slowly remembering that I’m Kelly and not just “mom.”

  49. Rebecca

    I am a new mother. My twins are 9 months old. This post totally spoke to me…addressing the biggest problem I seem to be having at this time in my life. Yes, it’s really time for me to check in with my other half….if it’s still there. Thank you…beautifully written!

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