Remember that time you got 8 full hours of sleep, spent the whole day at the spa, and just fully prioritized your self-care? Me neither. Didn't happen. But here's what I do remember: Giving myself a 2-minute "time out" recently in my laundry room to breathe deeply, after one of my 3-year-old twins described me as "stressed out" (I didn't even realize he knew that term), and my sweet, empathetic 7-year-old then bringing over a crumpled scrap of paper that read, "Mom, I hope you get a spa day soon."
I remember that day because it was the moment when I realized that my stress level, my exhaustion and my perpetual dismissal of self-care was not just affecting me, but my kids as well. It was also the moment I realized that when we think of self-care as selfish, everyone suffers.
If the first hurdle in embracing self-care is understanding that it isn't selfish, then, I would argue, the next challenge is actually figuring out what we, as moms, even want. Seriously—what do you really want? What would translate into a happier, healthier you? What would actually improve your quality of life?
I know my list looks like this:
A concluding, personal tidbit on self care:
One thing that my (now almost 95-year-old) grandmother has told me a number of times over the years has always stuck with me—when serving grapes to her then-little boys, she'd only allow herself to eat the less appealing grapes that had already fallen to the bottom of the bowl. In fact, she called those the "mother grapes." The idea, I suppose, was that the best offerings are never for mom. I didn't understand that story growing up, but now, as a mom myself, I get it, and it makes me sad.
Why do we relegate ourselves to the "mother grapes?" We all do it. We are strong women, we are feminists in the truest sense, but we do it. Why? Because selflessness is a part of the job of being mama. But what I urge moms to remember is that it's not all of the job. You can be selfless all day with your kiddos, and then practice self-care at night. You can wake up after just four hours of sleep to make pancakes from scratch for your munchkins, but you can do it in a great robe. After all, aren't selfless mamas the ones who need and deserve self-care the most?
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