Motherhood Not Martyr-hood

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Exley has really fallen in love with bubble baths. So much so that he demands them a couple of times a day. It’s winter here in Chicago with lots of inside time.

He takes them so often that I have gotten sick of picking up the toys. So I just kick them to the side when I take a shower.

Now we are really getting to heart of this post.

“Shower? How in hell do you take showers?”

Yes, I hear you. It’s really hard to keep up with all the luxuries that we had before babies. Showering, eating, going to the bathroom, getting dressed, etc.

When I had my first son, Jack, now 5.5 years old, I felt so much anxiety about doing these things for myself. I felt like I was neglecting him. I felt selfish. He was a sensitive little guy and cried often. I felt like I couldn’t meet my own needs before meeting his because it would mess him up.

Only to learn that it was messing me up.

When I had my second son. I realized that I didn’t want to go down that same path again. I am a mother, not a martyr. I cannot give my whole self with never taking care to fill up my own cup. I had 2 boys now. I was sure to have my sanity tested.

I take showers everyday. Ok, mostly everyday. There have been many times that I showered while Exley cried in the bassinet outside the shower curtain. I spoke gently to him. “Mama’s here, Exley. I am almost done. I am going to pick you up in a couple minutes.” He was upset. He was OK. He was safe. I put a towel around myself and nursed him.

Now he is 2.5 years old. Just today I decided to take a shower when I realized I had been wearing the same clothes since the day before and it had been 2 days since a shower. Time just slips away from me sometimes! Exley was getting tired. I turned the TV on and Jack was thrilled, but Exley wasn’t having it. He followed me around whimpering. I told I was going to take a shower. I invited him to sit with me in the bathroom, but that I would be taking a shower. He didn’t like it, but I told him to watch me as I washed my hair. He was semi-entertained. He stood there looking at me the whole time, asking me to get out. I talked softly to him, told him I would be out soon and that he could have a bubble bath then boobie.

My point is that we need to take care of ourselves. There are plenty of times when they can wait, when they will get upset, but we can reassure them and then follow through on our promises. I know we struggle with self care and sometimes I see suggestions that seem impossible to meet. And I think of the single moms or the moms with partners that work all hours or partners that are deployed (thanks by the way!) or the working moms. How can we carve just a bit of care for ourselves into our days? Even if it’s just a shower. A favorite meal. Makeup. Favorite outfit. Breathing exercises. Clean sheets…

Whenever we drive somewhere I like to get the kids in the car seats and then sit in the driver’s seat for a second. I pull down the mirror and put lipstick on. I don’t care where I am going. It’s just a little message to myself that I am still here. Still worth a moment. Still worth looking at in the mirror. Maybe you aren’t a lipstick kind of person. That’s fine, you know what I am getting at.

Try it tomorrow. What are you going to do for yourself?

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