A Love Letter to Moms: Self-Care Isn’t Selfish.
This isn’t your usual self-care story. If you’re anything like me you could be sneaking in some precious alone time right now in the bathroom – so let’s get to it, mama.
You *know* that you should be taking care of yourself. And you know you should be “putting your own oxygen mask on first” before assisting others. You’ve got the concept down, you’re smart.
But, you’re still not doing it.
Let’s go back a few years (or more) to when you first became a mom.
If your transition to motherhood was anything like mine, it was tough. Not only because of the - I don’t know how to care for a tiny human aspect - but also because most of us are thrust into a new (not so fun) awareness of ourselves.
Alone. That was the best descriptor for how I felt during my initial transition into motherhood. Literally and figuratively. Instead of going off to my 8-5 job, coming home and grabbing a couple of glasses of wine, and finishing the night off with some mind-numbing TV. Sleep. Repeat. I was now devoid of my usual social interactions, alcohol, TV, sleep, all of the things that kept me really, really busy from myself.
Instead I had a (pretty much) full-time duty for a new baby, with very little coping mechanisms to help me with said things. I didn't know how to cope with my feelings in normal ways. In my "old life" I had a lot of coping mechanisms – all of them unhealthy. Lots and lots of things to keep me busy and keep my mind numb. Avoid my feelings, avoid me. It had worked for me up until now.
When those unhealthy coping mechanisms were ripped away from me, it made the transition to motherhood THAT much harder. I was disconnected from myself to begin with, and this pushed the divide even greater.
And unfortunately in our society, this divide is normalized. We tell other moms, “what you’re feeling is normal, you do lose your identity when you become a mom... you'll have plenty of time to find yourself again when the kids move out of the house".
I call bullshit.
"Losing yourself" is unhealthy and dysfunctional at its core. In no way should you be sacrificing your needs, for your family, anyone else for the matter. All essential needs can be met in healthy, functional relationships. There doesn't have to be one or the other.
If your connection with yourself wasn't strong before you become a mom, then motherhood is simply bringing the call to go within that much stronger.
When you are out of touch with yourself, no matter the ages of your children, or stage of your life, your loved ones suffer, you suffer. And if you aren't connected with yourself, you can't possibly have purposeful connection with another human being. Rekindling and supporting that connection with self, is self-care. And it isn’t selfish.
Each minute of every day you're making decisions that will impact, mold and create your future. So when we continually, day in and day out, choose everyone else over ourselves. Brush off self-care and inner work as "something that can happen when the kids leave home"... you are sending signals that you don't matter. At least at the present moment you don't.
What we pay attention to grows, so let’s start being intentional with our focus.
If you're feeling called to go within, to reconnect with you, I encourage you to try incorporating these two things in your everyday life:
- Start paying attention to your feelings, feel them. They’re trying to guide you, so start listening! You don’t have to know the answers now, just start by allowing them in. Don’t push them aside.
- Create the space to get back in touch with yourself. Whether that means taking the dogs for a solo walk each night to clear your head, or spending an hour in the bath once a week... do something that gives you the space to breathe. To think, to process, to feel. And in this space you will open up space to be guided.
Supporting your connection with self is the best self-care you can give yourself. But it’s not an overnight fix, it’s a journey. An amazing, life-changing journey, that begins with a single step.
So just start, mama. You (and your family) deserve a connected, happy, and well taken care of you.