On Non-optional Self Care
Motherhood demands sacrifice.
It's just a fact: it's part of the vocation. It is part of life and careers and marriage too, but being a parent requires more. Between the diapers and cuddling and soothing and rocking and carrying and feeding and pumping and waking up, motherhood forces sacrifice upon you. Your kid literally depends upon you for everything and anything, and many of the convenient and easy parts of your life before transform into monumental, covetable things you wish you had never taken for granted all along.
Obviously, I think all of the sacrifice is worth it, and I daresay it gets easier the more you practice it, but I believe one of the most crucial aspects of motherhood is something that no mom can afford to give up, and that is the reality of self care. It is not a disposable luxury; it is essential.
Now, I only have one child, but I do work full time. I am kept busy. Going back to work almost immediately after a traumatic birth was no walk in the park, getting out of the door in the morning with a carnival of pumping equipment and coolers is no easy feat, and maintaining a good standard of living and a clean home takes effort.
I simply cannot be a good mom, wife, teacher, and human unless I take care of myself.
I am not exaggerating.
I am such a massive believer in someone's ability to give more, contribute more, when they are filled up with good things themselves and can put their best foot forward. I cannot be a good teacher to my students unless I am prepared and have put forth effort. I cannot be a loving wife and a giving mother and homemaker if I am hungry, overtired, and drained of good and beautiful things.
Self care is not expensive or flashy for me. I need leisurely coffee time in the morning, a good workout, a long shower, and a massive breakfast in the morning. I don't consider it selfish to require that, and it's worth waking up extra early for. Before I nurse Leo in the afternoons, after I pick him up from his nanny, I need comfortable clothes, a huge jug of water, and pumping part cleaned. Lots of times he is an angel when these happen, and sometimes he whines and whimpers while I gather my things. And for, it's okay that he's crying for a minute: I am able to better serve him, better meet his needs, better love him, when my immediate needs are met.
Sometimes I need coffee with friends, a trip to Goodwill with Garrett, reading on my patio, writing a blog post, or a trip to Target to buy nail polish for $1.99.
I've made a choice to not beat myself up mentally when I need these things from time to time: life is good, and my identity is certainly tied to my vocation as a mom, but it is not exhausted by it. Being a mom is my greatest joy thus far in life, but it is my crowning glory that reigns on top of a mountain of the other parts of who I am and habits of self care that allow me to live it fully.
I've made a choice to not make myself a martyr of busy-ness and messiness. Of course, I have hot mess moments all the time and crazy days that do not go according to plan. I give myself and my family grace, because life is nuts and those days are a part of it.
But being an underfed, unshowered, stressed out, drained mom is not being the best woman I can be. My kid, my husband, my students, and the world deserve the best version of me.
I want my kid to grow up understanding that taking care of yourself, in a prayerful, habitual, and powerful way, is not a vain or selfish endeavor: it is fueling your soul to receive and give in its best capacity.
No matter what season of life you are in: I encourage you: find the most essential daily habits, even one or two, and make them non-negotiable. They say you can't pour from an empty vessel, and I would add that the more you are required to pour, the more you are required to give, the vessel of yourself needs to be stronger and more nourished than ever.