As is usual for most mornings these days, I was forced out of bed prematurely by my hungry belly. I scrounged around in the fridge for something to eat, and then decided since I was up and my husband and son were still snoozing, I might as well enjoy this bit of quiet. I made myself a mug of rooibos tea, and settled in to do a bit of coloring with the twinkle lights on. As I was enjoying this quiet time, I was thinking about how much it helps me to have moments like this, where I can relax and think freely, without being constantly interrupted. I’m able to be so much more patient with Noah, so much more cheerful, and just generally a better wife and mother.
Noah did wake up before I finished my tea, haha, but I was still refreshed by that bit of time, and was happy to see him. He’s napping, now, and I’m taking some time to eat (always with the eating) and write out some thoughts that have been swirling around for a while now.
Before I had children, I knew, based on my observations, that I needed to take care of myself — in all ways — in order to best serve my family and those around me. I have seen far too many burnt out moms, ignoring their needs and being busy caring for those around… until it becomes too much, and their health begins to fail, mentally or physically or both. And then they aren’t able to help as much, or at all… or, worse, begin to harm those they once cared for.
Sacrifice is absolutely, inherently a part of committed parenthood. You give up so much, right from the start. Your body is not your own, your time is not your own, and so on, on a level that’s really inexplicable… you have to experience it to fully understand. It is a good thing; it helps us to grow as people.
But. The sacrifice of parenthood does not mean that you no longer matter, that you no longer have needs… or that fulfilling those needs is somehow selfish.
It’s NOT selfish, not if it’s done right.
I’m sure some parents harmfully ignore their children in the name of self-care, or send the message that they are more important than their children–and that isn’t right, not at all.
But as I’ve read elsewhere, self-care isn’t inherently, “Me first!”; it’s “Me, too.”
My dad likes to say, quoting Jim Rohn — “You take care of you for me, and I’ll take care of me for you.” Except, of course, our little ones can’t take care of themselves for us, not right away, and so this makes us caring for ourselves all the more important!
A happy, healthy mom is best for everyone. I don’t think there’s any doubt there!
Often times we need to make sure we do what is needed to make that happen. If we wait around for other people to know exactly what we need and make it happen, it’s highly unlikely to ever happen.
We need to take nap/quiet times to do things that speak to our minds, our spirits, our creative side. We need to take those brief minutes to sit and breathe and drink some tea, or coffee, or whatever. We need to stop rushing and start looking–really take in these sweet, curious, splendid little people we have been given. We need to make big batches of healthy food so we don’t end up skipping too many meals or eating too much junk. We need to get out for walks, alone and with our little ones. We need to spend quality time with our husbands. We need to take the showers and paint the nails. We need to ask our husbands or our family or friends to watch the littles for a bit, so we can go somewhere or do something without being constantly needed and on alert, and come back ready to go into the fray once more.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t have to cost money. It doesn’t have to take a long time.
But we *do* need to take care of ourselves, whatever form that happens to take for you at this time. It needs to be a priority, because we are so vital to the home and to the culture at large. We need to be functioning as well as possible so we can be more patient, more creative, more energetic, and so on.