I think as moms we’ve all been there, finding ourselves so busy it feels like there isn’t even time to sit down and eat properly. You find yourself snacking on your kid’s leftovers and later you feel that familiar sense of overwhelm coming on. You’re hangry. You haven’t fuelled yourself enough. You can’t subsist on your kid’s leftover snacks. You need your own plate. That, for me, is whats self care is all about. I know there is a lot of criticism that the act of self care is adding things to an already overwhelmed mom’s plate, but I see it, personally, as making sure you have a plate of your own and there’s enough on there to nourish you.
Self care isn’t just spa time and frivolity, though it can certainly include that. But it also includes things like:
- going to the doctor to manage your health
- making sure you eat, sleep and drink appropriately
- saying no to things that are within your span of control to decline
- objectively deciding if something keeping you too busy is really necessary
- not reading the comments
Saying no is a choice. Not everyone has the same number of choices. But if you find yourself with the opportunity to make a choice, I hope you choose happy, my friend. I hope you choose fulfilment. I hope you choose a life you dream of and space to breathe and grow as a person and as more than just your important role as a parent, daughter, friend, employee, partner.
I hope you choose you. I believe the act of caring for oneself in a context where women are routinely reduced to their looks and what they give others, rather than being considered to be deserving of consideration simply by virtue of their own humanity and personhood is radical AF and necessary. I see it as rebellion against the glorification of busy and of martyrdom. When people try to cut you down to a size that’s more manageable for them, I believe in responding with relentless and unapologetic self-preservation. I believing in thriving in spite of the negativity and succeeding despite the doubt of others. My friends at Balance365 Life taught me that it’s not just about pulling down your own oxygen mask before you can take care of others, it’s that YOU DESERVE AIR TOO.
I’ve seen moms defending working outside the home as an opportunity to give their kids a better life and that’s awesome and valid. But it’s a decision that shouldn’t require a defence. When was the last time a dad was asked how he could justify his ambition because he has a kid at home? We do not expel our ambition, dreams and desires with the placenta when we give birth. It’s okay to have a piece of your life that isn’t about being a mom or a wife or a friend or a daughter. It can be about you and what you choose – whatever that is. And if that’s staying home with your kids and that’s a choice you can make all the power to you, too, if that’s what you want. Self care is about not living life in a certain way because it’s expected even if everything in your soul tells you this is not what you want. It’s about choosing to live authentically in a way that feels good to you within the framework of your available choices, and advocating to expand those choices to make room for what you need.
The assertion that we cannot have it all is deeply rooted in sexism. But within the lens of self-care, I am not telling you to “have it all”, I’m telling you that I hope you have as much as you want and if you find yourself HANGRY, I hope you go for seconds without justifying your hunger for life, fulfilment and joy. I hope you sit mindfully enough to recognize how much is enough and when you’ve had your fill and can take no more, I hope you stand up and go about the business of living the life you chose with satisfaction.
I recently found myself HANGRY. I wasn’t assembling a meal of my kid’s leftovers, but I was trying to cobble together time for myself from whatever discarded scraps of my schedule that had been unclaimed. I was HANGRY for more. I can’t live on my kid’s uneaten lunch, and I can’t make a life from whatever other folks haven’t grabbed for. I need my own plate. It needs to be enough to nourish me, as a human. I’d ideally love to have enough for me that I can give to others. So I’m grabbing my own plate and my own place at the table. I hope you join me.