There’s some viral thing going around the interwebs about choosing a word for 2016, versus say, declaring a resolution or a sweeping statement about getting fitter/younger/fancier/cleaner/blah. So, as any good devotee of the interwebs, mommy blogs and artfully filtered photos, I started to think about my word, lest I choose to not jump on a hot trend about self-improvement. And all I could come up with were statements like “be a more patient mother, make sure my boyfriend doesn’t think I’m completely insane, look utterly capable and on top of my shit at work at all times.” Huh. Strangely, those didn’t really seem to be in the vein of what the word-intention movement was about. So, upon digging slightly deeper under my outer layer of sarcastic drip, to the glitter and unicorn deepest mushy-parts, I found this: self care. It’s not one word, but it’s absolutely the thing that I need to focus on for this year, and I am going to hold you, my friends, accountable for keeping me honest. Because, to be a more patient mother, a loving partner and a strong leader at work, guess what? I need to take care of my damn self first. Ye old adage about putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others around you? Yuppers, it’s a thing.
So what does self care look like? And how do I get around the absolute certainty that mommy-guilt and my (slight) propensity toward perfectionism will create a blockade wider than the wall Trump wants to build to keep em out? (‘Murica. I digress… Sorry.) Here’s my first attempt at laying it out.
Self care looks like finding margin for grace. Early last year, I found out that my ex, the father of my children, repeatedly cheated on me. I still need to find room to co-parent with him. I still need to get excited for my kids to have weekends with him and be CRAZY pumped when they are pumped. I need to tell my little one that he has his father’s beautiful brown eyes and watch his face light up. I need to tell the big one that yes, he and his brother are the best thing we ever did. (They are.) I need to do this without one ounce of sarcasm or heaviness. And how? Grace. I have moved to a place of actually understanding that while he made very poor and hurtful choices, he is who he is and likely doing his best based on his own past. I drew my boundary around my own heart and soul when it came to him– he lost those– but I do have space to forgive him and offer him grace. Without that? It would still be eating me alive. Self care.
Self care looks like being fully present to the new love in my life. It is 100% ok to want to spend grown up only time with him. It is 100% awesome to find space in my heart to love again. To laugh. To be silly. To talk until the wee hours. To eat great food and drink bottles of wine. To accept his loving acts of bringing me soup and a milkshake when I am sick. To allow someone into my life who treats me the way I have actually always wanted to be treated. To fulfill a dream I couldn’t admit I had. I don’t think I knew how unhappy I was until I found happiness again. Allowing myself to be giddy like a middle schooler again and just absolutely going for it? Self care.
Self care looks like running, yoga, walks, fresh air and challenging my body. I still maintain that I am not an athlete. After becoming a running coach and completing numerous 5ks, 10ks and even a half marathon. It’s still hard for me to say that I am an athlete, but wow, my body and spirit need movement on the regular. Running is hard shit and it takes me to the brink and back– but the achievement of doing something I never thought possible AND helping other people reach those goals? That is some soul feeding goodness right there. Creating time and handling the logistics involved in making sure I get to exercise this body of mine are a priority and sometimes fodder for the mommy-guilt beasties, but I can say with certainty that I am a MUCH better and more patient mother when I am running and doing yoga regularly. Self care.
It’s not a coincidence (actually, I don’t believe in those anymore) that the day after I found my phrase for 2016 I got horribly sick. Without warning, like honestly fine one day and horrendously sick the next, I had to take 2 actual sick days off of work. Like, I cancelled meetings and laid on the couch. Which is not a thing that I typically do. But I will be so MUCH better, when I am better, if I actually allow myself to get better. Self care.
My resolve to focus on self care as an intention for 2016 means that this is my measuring stick when making decisions. Does it mean I won’t or can’t put other people first? Nope. It means that I am going to do my best to bring my whole self and my best self when my people need me, without apology and without guilt. My priorities around self care will have a trickle down effect. Cause when Mama is happy, centered and healthy, guess what? All Mama’s people are too. It took some serious work (thanks Ruth for the weekly couch sesh) to realize that in fact, when I was basically killing myself (hello thyroid tumor) to put this perfect image out in the world, to keep the armor up at all costs– well, I was bringing the whole ship down with me.
This year? I am sailing away to self care. I deserve to be whole, first, and complete so that I can in turn love all of my people that much more. Self care. ❤