Most of our mothers practice self care, so we don’t even see it as an option until much later than is good for us. And nobody teaches it in college, though we really could benefit from learning this in kindergarten. Oh, my, just imagine that.
So when we start caring for ourselves, we’re not exactly brilliant at it. We feel guilty for every indulgence, and we deem anything not directly related to taking care of others as indulgence. When we do carve out some time for self-care, it’s the first thing to go when things get challenging, which is pretty much every day except Noneday.
Then we feel guilty about not taking care of ourselves. And because we should ourselves into it, we resent it, then turn this right back around on ourselves: Why can’t I even put the oxygen mask on my face first like a good mother should? This is a thought that actually went through my head. I’m not kidding. And way more than once.
We set ourselves up for failure by taking it on too much, too fast. No, honey, you can’t go from sacrificial lamb to queen of the castle in one fell swoop. And as much as it seems like a good idea to commit to doing any or all of these every day . . .
- going to the gym
- meditating for half an hour
- taking nice hot baths
- eating spinach
- wearing only comfortable shoes
. . . it is utterly impossible.
For me, this is much more like it:
- Wearing mostly comfortable shoes, and walking barefoot whenever I want to (or wearing warm fuzzy slippers when it’s cold). I do get to wear my not-so-comfortable shoes when I go where fancy shoes are a good idea, which is hardly ever. But I can when I want to. and that’s important.
- Taking a hot bath sometimes. As often as I can manage, which is about twice a month
- Taking three deep breaths. At the line at the post office, at a red light, before bed. Sometimes it’s just one breath; sometimes it’s not even particularly deep. Sometimes I take seven, or thirty-two nice deep ones. You can call any of it meditation, but you don’t have to. I don’t. The M-word makes my resistance act up.
- I drink my spinach. Here’s how: put some in a blender with a banana and an apple, add a little liquid of your choice (soymilk works for me), and throw in some ice if you so choose; pulse and enjoy. It tastes better than it sounds. You can start with a small amount of spinach and increase the ratio as you get used to it. I love it, and I drink it whenever I get around to blending. Sometimes every day for a week; sometimes weeks go by and I don’t even remember to buy spinach. Whatever works. This drink works just as well with kale, chard, or any other greens that your CSA or favorite produce section might carry.
- It’s time to cancel my gym membership. Who am I kidding? When my sprain is all gone, I’m going to do yoga again, once a week, unless I go more often, which would be awesome, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
Catch my drift?
And I’m not committing to anything. These are intentions and options–not some goals I must meet, standards I must live up to. There’s nothing wrong with goals and standards–I have some that I’m quite fond of–but in this arena, they don’t do me any good, so they are not invited.
And just because self-care is a skill doesn’t mean I must work at it. And certainly not in practice-makes-perfect mode. I choose to play with it. I invite myself to go on play dates. We have fun together.
How about you? Comments here earn you kudos in heaven. Ask anybody.
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