I don’t know if men carry this weight of perpetual guilt that myself and many of my other female tribe members do. Maybe it’s some weird genetic wiring or hormonal thing? Maybe it’s the way society taught us to be? A little of both- nature and nurture? I feel fairly secure in stating many women have a challenging time taking care of ourselves. I am not referring to the basic needs of food, water and shelter. Though if you have ever had a newborn you know that even those needs sometimes go by the wayside.
We ladies are notorious for putting other people, tasks and activities ahead of replenishment of ourselves to the point of utter exhaustion. We run ourselves ragged so that we look vagrant and dazed. Our minds and bodies deflated so that our thoughts become muddled and fuzzy. We are in a state of perpetual fatigue. Yawning becomes a breath pattern. Our vocabularies dwindle. We are crabby and snippy. Nobody is getting our best. Yet, we remain in constant motion. Solving, fixing, nurturing, feeding in a cyclical or cyclone type pattern.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Who said this was what being a partner and/or mother and/or worker and/or fill in the blank with whatever important roles…… Where is it implied that it is our job to be everything for everybody, everyday? I don’t recall that in my marriage vows. Nor in any of the paperwork I signed as I left the hospital with my new baby? Where exactly did we get the notion that this was the way it has to be? Why in the hell did we just swallow that down? Somehow, along the way it is implied and adopted that as a female caregiver the parts of myself that existed prior to that role cease to matter as much, if at all. That I am supposed to relish in the act of taking care of others to the point that those acts become my hobbies, my free time and my very being.
Nope, not this lady. Not anymore. I am making myself and my desires for a more well rounded life my priority. Without the guilt. Without hesitation. Without regret. Say it with me:
SELF CARE IS NOT SELFISH!
Why is self care so vital to my person? This pursuit of growth outside of my familial roles? Personal self care allows me to blossom. I am able to shake off the day and recharge my battery. I am able to process and think and see from a different perspective. I am calmer. I feel more comfortable in my own skin. I feel happy. I feel ready to delve back into my caregiver role with zest.
So what is my self care routine? I aim to get up early before the rest of the house and read meditations and journal. I try to exercise regularly. I pursue outside activities or classes that interest me. Writing, drawing, voice lessons, yoga classes, running, getting to the beach. I make time to get together with my girlfriends. Date night with Mr. Reinvention. If another member of the household offers me help I accept. I allow and encourage Baby Reinvention to have independent free play time and quiet time. Do all of these things happen every week? No way! But I aim for some self love every day.
And when that little nagging voice of guilt or doubt about the value of me caring for myself starts up, I promptly and assertively tell it to STFU and give it no more attention.
If I don’t create the time and space to care for myself no one else is going to. No one is going to make my self care their priority. Nor should they have to assume that job. It is my responsibility to recognize my value and embrace myself. Caring for myself is showing the world how to treat me. It is teaching my daughter how to treat herself. It is showing her that a wife and mother is not to be the family martyr, maid and dumping ground. Rather, we are the epicenter and sun of the family unit and we deserve to be treated thusly.
Ladies, is self care happening for you right now? Is it a priority? Do you agree with my assertions? How do you minimize or shut down the guilt? Let’s talk about it.