I have a confession. I don’t spend a lot of time on “me”. Self care isn’t my strong suit. I don’t have my nails done, I think I wax my brows once a month if I remember to, I might shave my legs once a week if I get more than 5 minutes to shower.
Somewhere along the line, the false lashes, layers of makeup, push up bras, self tanner, perfectly styled hair, and shiny smooth skin of my past was replaced with dark circles, blemishes, dry shampoo filled pony tails, and permanently tired eyes. I take care of myself, enough. Just enough. I eat, sleep, shower, and take an hour or two to watch my favorite shows or decompress. But I don’t spoil myself anymore. I don’t focus on the things that make me feel better in my own skin. It just isn’t a priority when you’re trying to care for everyone else around you.
Motherhood is hard. We too often forget how to “be” anything but the caregiver. There’s all these viral articles and self help books telling us to “practice self care”, “take care of you”, “love yourself first”. But honestly how unrealistic are these instructions? When, how, and in what way? Thanks for the painful reminder of yet another thing I need to be doing. Am I supposed to let the dishes pile up and smell? The floor keep collecting dirt? The kids go unattended to? Work undone? I already let the laundry create it’s own planet, I can’t have an entire galaxy worth of other shit invade too.
I’m painfully aware that self care is important. My messy cuticles, adult acne, dry skin, and too often hairy legs remind me of it every time I pass a mirror as I hurry to get to the next task. Washing my face isn’t going to miraculously renew the life force in me. Brushing my hair isn’t a cure. Most days, when I finally get a moment to myself, the very last thing I want to do is get dressed in a publicly presentable outfit and drive somewhere to “people” or pretend I care what my fingernails look like for an hour. I’m too tired, or too irritated, or have too little interest.
I’d love to be that woman again. Who always looked photo ready, who’s cabinet was filled with scented lotions, self tanner, and makeup that wasn’t covered in a layer of dry shampoo residue and dust. But the truth is, I’ve forgotten how to be her and as much as I hate that fact, it’s real.
Moms don’t need to be told to take care of us too. It’s just another person to worry about in our lives. We need OTHERS to care for us, to give us the chance to do something for ourselves, and to help us do so.
I didn’t really recognize any of this until the other day when my mom sat me down and did my makeup. She got out fancy lotions and made me use them. The next day while the kids stayed home with Justin, she drove me to my ob appointment where I got to sit without two wildlings in the exam room. She took me to the store and we looked through isles of things I hadn’t shopped for in what felt like years. I felt rejuvenated, I felt like the woman staring back at me in the mirror was a glimpse of the one I’d forgotten how to be. Because someone stepped up.
So I guess what my point is, is that we as mothers don’t need empty advice, we need others to care for us. It’s the first step.