Myths of Motherhood: #selfcare

#selfcare--it's our generation's thing and our God-given right, right?

I saw something recently about a mom performing, in my opinion, a somewhat lavish act of self care before her child came home from school so she could be fully present for her child. First it annoyed me and then it made me feel guilty. Am I supposed to be doing this in the carline too?

When I pick up my girls from school, it usually coincides with many other needs--bathroom and hand-washing help, getting babies down for naps before they become overtired, dinner prep, etc. etc. etc. Of course I ask them about their days (while trying to listen to the answers) and do usually have most of my tasks done by the time I pick them up so I CAN be present for them, but I cannot be a magical serene goddess. I cannot.

The other day I missed a call from my sister and this was my text back to her:

Getting E in a min and trying to prep dinner while feeding George lunch and helping Mimi with potty and I have soft pretzels baking in the oven 😅

Let's beat a dead horse and say that my husband is often home late, travels for work, and I have three young children for whom I am their primary caregiver with minimal outside help. And my baby isn't yet sleeping through the night so this is a 24/7 task.

I am not in a phase of life that allows much self care without other things taking a hit. Yes, there's the whole "if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" thing which I totally agree with, but there's also this: Sometimes it's just hard.

Sometimes there are too many balls in the air and there's not much that can be pared down. Sometimes sleep isn't happening. Sometimes the vegetable with dinner is steam-in-bag frozen green beans (organic though!), still in the bag, without a utensil and you tell your husband he can just use his hands to get them out.

It's probably not a popular concept. It's sure not one that I readily accept. But sometimes we can't medicate it away, buy anything to fix it, or take a vacation to escape it, and any attempt at self care is just one more thing to do.

I think this generation of mothers is being sold a bill of goods. At what point is self care ACTUALLY care and at what point does it become just another thing to do, buy, and, dare I say, another thing to worship? Where is the line between helping us become better mothers and actually taking our attention away from our precious babies, for whom love and attention is the only thing really needed in the first place?

Over the summer I saw a naturopathic doctor for an old back injury, and on the intake form there was a "wheel of balance" where you rate how happy you are with different areas of your life. My wheel, and life, is fairly full, but the one area that was glaringly lacking (aside from career, LOL) was fun. "So I can see you're not having any fun," he said to me.

I do try and incorporate fun when I can, but sometimes even a little bit of fun is at the expense of other, more important things--nursing babies, sleep--and has a ripple effect that I'm not willing to deal with too regularly right now.

In this stage of life, sometimes self care looks more like this:

getting the baby on a nap schedule that buys me daily reliable chunks of time (I don't want to toot my own horn but I am a master at this)

squeezing in that morning quiet time (currently working through this)

taking a deep breath instead of yelling (still learning this)

putting the kids to bed early

enjoying that hard-earned glass of wine learning and perfecting the catnap

making sure our home systems--laundry, getting food in the house, etc.--are well-oiled machines

sticking with simple meals that are maybe so boring you want to cry but it takes minimal prep work and zero recipe-following and everyone eats them which makes for a happy dinner time

Did I mention I've been cleared to hire some childcare help and I have, on multiple occasions, found a candidate and then decided against hiring her?

Apparently the lottery was recently up to a billion dollars--or maybe it still is?--and Nick and I were talking about what we would do with that much money.

While there are some things I would jump right on (a chef!), the macro things--where we live, what I do on a daily basis--I would keep exactly the same. I went through a period recently where I was feeling extra overwhelmed at the daily mountain of everyday tasks, but when I realized that given the opportunity to drastically alter my situation, I wouldn't, it helped me shift my perspective.

I am not living in a prison. I chose this life and wouldn't change it for a billion dollars. Maybe we'd up the ante on our typical once-a-month date night, but aside from that I would still choose to be my children's primary caregiver because I think it is meaningful, impossible, important, eternal work. And I would still probably be exhausted.

I may be in the trenches, but I can feel liberated within those trenches if I realize that I am exactly where I want to be.

If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too: If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or being hated don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master; If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim, If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same:. If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings, And never breathe a word about your loss: If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch, If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, If all men count with you, but none too much: If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son! —Rudyard Kipling

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