Photo by Michelle Phinney
So I read this great quote online about self care. It said, “Cancelling plans is ok. Staying home to cook is ok. Disappearing for a bit to get your life together is ok. Resurfacing in a foreign country 10 years later with a new name is ok. It’s called self-care.” -Dilutethepower
Maybe the last line got a little sticky, but can you really tell me that you’ve never thought about it? Amidst the pile of dishes, laundry, errands, homework—not your homework, the kids' homework—weren’t you supposed to be done with homework?? This doesn’t even include your own job, dreams, attempts to keep up with friendships or holding onto some semblance of YOU. You dream of escape. But then one of those sticky piles of laundry—I mean children—sneaks up to you in the middle of it and wants a hug. Burying a peanut butter face into your softer than it once was mid-section you get the privilege of hearing “I love you mom” before they run off to fight with a sibling and make another mess.
So maybe for today you will put off hopping on the next jet out of here. But in the meantime, what do you do? How many deep breaths can you take and how many showers can you really skip? Who are you in the midst of all this demand? Are you still you? Or are you some distant version of you? Have you forgotten how to breath? Whether you have 1 child or 10 doesn’t always matter. Life changes when it’s no longer just your life to figure out. I say figure out because none of us just know how to do this. Some may seem to have a better grasp on it than others but we are all just feeling our way around in the dark.
So let me ask you this. What would you say to a woman like you when you bump into her in the dark? Would you reprimand her for not having a better flashlight and tell her to get her shit together and stop bumping around? Or would you laugh and say “it’s ok, I am looking for the light too. This is a tunnel right??”
What would you say to the friend who seems to have it decently together if you ran into her one day and she just crumpled in front of you telling you she felt undone, exhausted and lost? Would you hand her her 5th coffee and tell her to “suck it up, we all do”? Or would your motherly instinct kick in as you held her for a moment and told her it’s ok to sit down and take a minute, tell her to take a few breaths and encourage her that who she is is enough. I’m going to guess and say most of you would choose love and encouragement because you know that feeling and you also know that those desperate moments don’t last and usually give way to overwhelming love and astonishment at the story you get to be a part of in raising these loud, sticky people.
Well guess what? The healing, love and acceptance starts with you. By this I don’t mean run out and find a friend to tell that you know she is secretly floundering and you love her anyway. I mean you need to start closer than that—It’s you. You are that friend bumping into that friend. Go ahead and introduce yourself, re-introduce yourself daily if you must. Tell her (yourself) a few good qualities about you that make you who you are and when she tries to argue with all her failures and flaws, respond as you would to someone else you love. You wouldn’t say “you’re right, I can’t believe how unorganized you are and you really should work out more—at least get those love handles under control”. You would tell her that we all struggle with those things and change starts small. You would tell her she’s beautiful as she is and that her supposed flaws all tell a unique story of her own. You would encourage her to own her story and find joy in the little things. You wouldn’t pump her full of caffeine, if anything you would share your kava spray with her and tell her to breath.
You can spend all the time in the world looking for affirmation and encouragement from outside sources. But at the end of the day it is your voice you will hear and it will either be contradicting those affirmations or affirming them.
You are always in a conversation with yourself. You are your closest companion. So be nice. Be love. Be truthful. Remind yourself that who you are is not only good enough but it’s just right. Then go wash your shirt, it has peanut butter all over it.