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I’m standing in the kitchen on the brink of either crying or laughing. There are remnants of spit up on my grease stained t-shirt, a tiny poop smear on my right arm. My hair is so snarly I can’t brush it, so it’s just in a giant “messy bun” which sounds cute, but I promise, it isn’t. The dinner that I’ve been trying to prepare for what feels like hours is burning and all the children are crying. The sink is full of dishes, there are half dirty clothes on the floor everywhere. I haven’t showered in days. I haven’t really slept in years. I’m running on coffee and a prayer and I am at the end.
I always wanted to be a mom. When I was younger and one of my nieces or nephews would be sad or hurt they would want their mother, of course. I remember thinking, “I can’t wait until a baby just needs me.” I couldn’t wait to pick out baby clothes for a baby that looked like me and my husband. I couldn’t wait to play with my own children, and read huge piles of picture books to them. There are still things that I dream about and I’m excited for. I’m excited for a real, deep relationship with my daughters. I’m excited to go to a coffee shop and talk to them about their feelings. I’m excited to go to the movies with them, go shopping for decorations for their rooms, and to go get pedicures on their birthdays. But for now, I feel like a slave to these little people I love so much. It feels like my entire existence is just to keep the tiny humans alive. The reality of it is that that is true. My childhood wish came true, I am really and truly needed.
Being a mom is so rewarding in so many ways. I will never take it for granted. I am so blessed, and I know it. I cry at least once a week out of gratitude and joy that I get to be the mom of these two angel babies. However, sometimes in the middle of a really crappy day I forget. I forget the big picture and all I can see is the puffy, stretched unrecognizable me? in the mirror.
I still remember the exact moment when the reality of motherhood really sunk in for me. I was 20 years old, almost 21 and around 23 weeks pregnant with my first baby. I was ecstatic to be pregnant. I loved my baby instantly. On this fateful night I was laying on my side talking to my husband. I sat up and there was a big wet spot on our bed. I realized quickly that one of my breasts was leaking colostrum at 23 weeks. I burst into tears and sobbed to my husband, “I just want my body back!”
This now hilarious moment sticks out because I knew then that there was no going back. I knew I would never be the same person I was before I had a baby. There are a lot of things that I miss doing or being, even though it’s worth it and I would do it again in a heart beat.
It is much easier for me to be a good mother when I am able to have some time to become my own person again. When I slip into “just keep the kids alive” mom I’m not a very good mom. Sure, I meet my children’s basic physical needs, but I’m too empty to do anything above that. When I am able to be replenished myself, not only do I benefit, but my husband and children do too! Here are some things I try to do to take care of myself:
Read a book. If I’m especially crabby I read fiction. See what I’ve read so far this summer!
Color. I love adult coloring books. A lot of time I will play a book on Audible or listen to a podcast and color in this coloring book:
Take a bubble bath. I put in the bath some drops of lavender essential oil, listen to soft worship music, and light candles. I soak until the water gets cold and always feel like a human again after.
Go for a walk (all by yourself!) Being outside and breathing fresh air is so wonderful for your body and mind. Take your phone, but don’t listen to music. Just soak in the sun and alone time.
Go grocery shopping (by yourself.) I know, I know…who want’s to pretend a chore is self care? No one. But lets be real-sometimes it’s better for your state of mind to accomplish something, especially if all you have left in the house is bottled water and mustard.
Take a nap! Don’t take a child with you, unless you absolutely must.
Watch Netflix. By yourself. Watch something for adults, no cartoons allowed. Fold laundry if you must.
Go to a coffee shop and journal. This one is my sister’s favorite way to take care of herself. It’s so good to write down your thoughts and emotions. It can help you pinpoint what you are feeling and why. Someday when you are in a different stage of life you will be so thankful to have that piece of you recorded.
What about you, momma? What do you do to take care of yourself? Let me know with a comment, I’d love to hear from you!