I know I can’t be the only mom who struggles with self-care, or the elusive “me time.”
Are you a mommy martyr, like me – do you sacrifice your well-being for your family? How did we get here, and how do we get out? Why is self care so hard?
Letting Myself Go
My mother reminded me today that my youngest is turning one in exactly one month. So soon! All the bittersweet “baby no more” feelings rushed in, but very quickly were replaced with dread. Birthdays mean photos, and I know I will hate how I look in them. How fat I have gotten (I’m at an all time high), how far I have let myself go. I have my goals for 2016, but I haven’t worked very hard on the ones that involve self-care.
Letting myself go was a self-fulfilling prophecy as I used to joke about it all the time when my husband and I got engaged. It was a favorite joke and I used it often. “I can finally let myself go!” And I did. And it’s not a joke. It’s a deep disappointment I feel in myself. I feel like I have let down not just myself, but my husband, and even my children.
One of my husband’s best friends recently got engaged. My first thought – “oh no, we will have to go to the wedding.” Followed quickly by: The wedding will be in public, with other people, people with eyes who will look at me! I don’t have anything to wear, I don’t feel good about myself, and I’m embarrassed for my poor husband who has to bring me as his date. Oh yeah, and congrats to the happy couple!
The Typical Frumpy Mom
It’s incredibly cliche, but as a mom of two, I don’t find the time to shower some days. Some days the baby spits up on me and I wipe it off, but I don’t change clothes. Or I’ll change the baby, but not myself. I definitely have not made working out a priority. I eat most of my meals standing up in the kitchen while feeding someone else. I compare food labels for my children to find the better choice but I do not make healthy choices for myself. I will fill my toddlers cup 12 times but not drink a drop of water all day.
I have reminders in my calendar to call and make appointments for both of my children. But I can’t remember when I was last at the dentist or eye doctor myself (hint: it’s been years). The last time I had my haircut, I asked for a “healthy trim” and the hair dresser took off eleven inches! I didn’t even notice it getting so long, as it’s always up in a bun out of the reach of baby fingers.
There are quiet hours most days, where I am able to be alone with myself. They usually come at night, after the dust of bedtime has settled. The quiet hours are not really hours, they are sometimes mere moments. I’m using them now to quickly write this blog post. To pour out these feelings, to get this off my chest.
Should I make better use of the quiet hours? Maybe. Should I go to bed and get the rest that I truly need after almost three years of steady sleep deprivation? I should. But there is a toddler on my side of the bed, sweaty in his fleece footed pajamas, drooling on my pillow.
Should I use the quiet hours to write out a plan for a better life? A schedule, a goals list, a way to find more me time? I should. But as soon as I begin, my baby will cry, ready for his late evening feeding. The pediatrician says he should be sleeping through the night by now but just like my firstborn, he’s not. (*with perfect timing, he woke up as soon as I hit “publish.”)
There are no quiet morning hours. The baby eats again between 4 and 5 am most days and my early rising toddler is typically up by 6. We hit the ground running with juice cups that need to be filled, diapers to be changed (oh the endless diapers), train tracks to be repaired and boo boo’s to be kissed. I have a baby to nurse and a mountain of laundry to slay. I need to grocery shop and keep the kitchen from looking like a complete disaster.
The Baby Always Cries Louder
Why do moms so often become martyrs? Why is self care so hard?
Because the baby always cries louder.
Babies know what they want and demand it immediately! “I’m hungry, feed me! I’m hurt, console me! I need to feel loved, hold me!” Somewhere along the way, we lose that ability, even though we still have those same needs. I long to be fed, to be consoled, to be held.
The baby always cries louder, than the crying I am doing on the inside. The baby (and the toddler) cries louder than my hurting husband who has stated (lovingly) “you’re more of a mom than a wife.”
No Regrets, Just Room for Improvement
Do I regret having children? Absolutely not. When I spend a large portion of my day getting my toddler to do deep belly laughs by making a silly face, or walking funny, I know I’m making the right choices. When I am “stuck” on the couch because the only thing that comforts my teething baby is to lay on my chest while I stroke his hair, I want time to stand still.
Do I wish there was a better way? Absolutely. I wish for more discipline to take better care of myself. And for less guilt when I want to choose myself and my marriage before my children. I wish for more time in each day, because as much as I want my old self back and my marriage back, I don’t want to miss a second of this sweet phase of life.
How are you doing moms? Are you taking care of yourselves?