In the last 10 months, I have learned this lesson (the hard way) time and time again: when you are a mom to a young baby, it is just as important to take care of yourself as it is to take care of the baby. It is a hard concept to understand. We unconsciously give ourselves – mind, body, soul – over to our children when they’re born. From the moment they meet your eyes: it’s love. Absolute and total unforgiving love.
But what we fail to see, and what truly just escapes our minds – unconsciously – is that we will continue to give and give and give until we lose ourselves. And what we lose is not just our sleep and self-care, but our empathy and state of being as well.
And let’s get something straight: it WILL happen to you. It will. Acceptance is the first step towards helping and healing. Admit it: you have broken down when you couldn’t open the mum-mums fast enough or you left the kitchen for the fifth time and still forgot your water glass. It happens. And you will break down again. This is the cycle of parenting.
I had one of those moments recently – in the middle of yoga class. Yep, right in the middle of class. I sobbed for 90 minutes. While everyone else was sun-saluting, I was in child’s pose, crying. I don’t really know why. Well, I do sort of know why. But still. One thought kept running through my mind:
I. am. SO. tired.
And, as usual, this came at the wrong time. We were beginning a short, intense, bi-annual family gathering extended weekend where everyone was getting their chance to meet Max. I had so many things to do to get ready. And there I was: crying. CRYING! In Yoga? I guess sometimes you just have to go with it. I suppose it was very yogic of me.
After I class I talked with my husband. All intentions were good, but if there is one theme in the disagreements we have had since Max joined our family it is this: there are no last minute plans when you have a baby, unless mom and the baby agree. Lesson learned. We will live to see another day.
So, instead what would have been a hectic afternoon that I didn’t have time for, I took a day off. I got my hair cut (it had been at least 6 months.. maybe 9 .. maybe 12?). I got a massage. I sat in a hot tub. I lived lavishly for two hours. Then I went to the craft store and bought the Midnight edition of Project Life. Because even when life throws you lemons, you can make a lemonade spread on your Project Life album and it will be gorgeous.
The lesson here is twofold:
1. Moms, take care of yourself. Don’t wait until you are in a ball in yoga class, refusing to do a pose, and refusing to get up because your eyes are covered in mascara tears because you didn’t have time to wash your face last night because you were too tired from staying up late because someone FINALLY came to visit you and you wanted to pretend you could stay up all night like before you had a baby.
2. Speak up for yourself. I firmly believe that – in my life – 99% of all choices are well-intentioned. Misunderstandings WILL happen. Your job is to advocate for yourself. Not just for your sake, but for your baby’s as well. At the end of the day, it’s ok if grandma Nelly doesn’t get to meet your baby at 2 weeks old. You need sleep. You need self-care. You need to be able to be there for your baby. And you can’t do that if you push yourself too far.