After my son was born, I was so entrenched in believing my needs came after everyone else’s (like so many mamas) that basic necessities like showering or peeing when I needed to, became negotiable.
It wasn’t until I faced my own dark night of the soul struggling with PPA, PPD, and PTSD that I realized my constant self-abandonment was turning me into someone unrecognizable to myself.
I didn’t want to be an angry resentful wife, or sad apathetic mother. I didn’t like who I was. I wanted better for my family and for myself.
There was also this thought. I was afraid Magnus would believe the way I was performing the mother role (always putting others first while placing my own needs aside indefinitely and trying to be all things to everyone while completely abandoning myself) was what he would believe and expect from women and mothers. It horrified me.
I remember the first time I handed Magnus over to my husband for my first run alone as a mom. As I pulled on my sports bra there was a secret thrill running through my body like I was about to do something illicit. I felt a joy I had almost forgotten as I stepped out into the sunshine and put my headphones in to listen to a Dharma talk, something I hadn’t done in at least 6 months.
The run was hard. The ease of running would take time to come back. Even as felt the lumbering gait of my run and my lungs working hard, I was elated. I felt myself coming back to a part of myself I had almost forgotten, like when you unpack boxes from a move and all your old stuff feels brand new again.
I came home. I came home to my Self.
After that, self-care had a whole new meaning to me, it now became “self-maintenance.” I had always associated self-care with facials, massages, and fancy things that were services I paid for. It felt luxurious, trivial, and nonessential. It was what women who had too much time and lots of money did, not me.
So I like to use “self-maintenance” instead.
Self-maintenance is basic, consequential, and essential. It is not only what keep us functioning but functioning well.
When we have self-worth we no longer have to negotiate or earn our self-care, because we start to see it as self-maintenance. It becomes no different than having the right to brush your teeth, shower, or drink water. It’s just what you do to keep your body healthy.
Self-maintenance doesn’t have to be long, however it does need to be prioritized.
This doesn’t mean you don’t take care of things in your life. It means that you know that your well-being is more important than if you ticked off the boxes of a list you made up with commitments you agreed to.
How long it takes isn’t relevant.
It’s the difference between prioritizing those 10 minutes for yourself because your happiness and well-being matter, and “fitting” in those 10 minutes as though you’re an afterthought.
And THAT is about self-worth.
You need to know and believe that you are entitled to that time for yourself without having to earn it, deserve it, or do something first to get it.
You were born into this world already whole and worthy, just like your babies.
I never want my son to question his worth or believe that it’s tied to what he does instead of who he is.
So I show him how.
Not after everyone else is in bed, not when everyone else is occupied and doesn’t need me, not when it’s most convenient for everyone else.
He sees me take a bath when my husband cleans up the kitchen. He sees me head out for a run when his dad is making breakfast. He sees me go in the other room to catch up with a girlfriend on the phone or meditate.
I don’t hide my self-maintenance from him or only do it when he’s busy with something else. I want to show him what a healthy family that supports each other looks like so he creates one of his own one day.
Tell me in the comments, do you think self-care is a time thing or a self-worth thing?