I can still remember the day, when my mother looked at me, while I was holding my first daughter and said, “I am available to help care for her so that you can care for yourself whenever you need.”
I thanked her for offering to watch my daughter when I needed a break but it wasn't until years later that I realized how loaded her statement was.
As a child, I don't recall seeing my mother devote time to herself. I only recall her working and taking care of us. She was an amazing mother who selflessly gave of herself to her children, family, and friends and I often wonder what she did to rejuvenate during those many years of childrearing.
Once my siblings and I were grown, it was fun to watch her enjoy life on her terms. I loved seeing her refreshed, full of life, and doing what she wanted to do.
As for me, self-care was still a great challenge during the first ten years of being a mom. I fell into unhealthy patterns of ignoring my checkups, staying up late, picking up fast food too often, and sitting more than I was moving. I was too busy, too tired, and too focused on what was less than ideal in my life. I felt like no one could really understand how I felt, but how could they? I didn’t talk about my feelings. In everyone else's eyes, I was the one who had it all together. That couldn't be farther from the truth.
Later, I found myself in therapy. I couldn't even answer the therapist's question when I was asked, "What do you for yourself?" Eventually, I was prompted to commit to a goal to take better care of myself. Week after week, I would return with no progress to report but I was determined to make self-care a priority.
With a lot of prayer, support, and hard work, I started to take my commitment seriously. Now, I'm thriving.
I know self-care has become a bit of a buzzword these days but my focus on self-care includes an intentional focus on the often forgotten everyday practices – not just the glitzy, glamorous things. Self-care has to be about recognizing the anxiety, depression, and stress and actually doing something about it that produces long-term results.
My desire is to encourage mamas today to make true self-care part of their everyday experience so that their little ones can grow up developing a healthy definition of what it really looks like.
Are you building yourself up with affirming words?
Are you getting enough sleep?
Are you moving your body daily?
Do you regularly do something that brings you joy?