Just because I don't smile doesn't mean that I am unhappy. It just means that I am thinking about something that I consider important. It means that I am trying to find some space for myself in a public place.
We've created a vision that is impossible to attain amidst a life where small people rely on us. A life where we want to be with those small people just as much as we need a break from them most of the time. Inevitably, the grand self care gestures fall apart under their own weight.
Each of my three children have grown up with a mom who has insisted on the importance of her own self-care, but also in building a family culture that values being whole. It's our new normal for the children to see their parents loving themselves while also loving their family.
From the time they're born, kids observe everything. It's good for them to know that their parents are individuals, too, with their very own wants, needs and passions. This is the beginning of teaching kids about the concept of identity.
I've been a parent for over two and a half years now, and I still don't identify as a mom. I mean, I know I'm a mom. I have the stretch marks, sippy cups and sleep-addled brain to prove it. But I don't quite feel like me in this new mom skin yet.
I am realizing that an aspect of growing up has been leaving the fear of monsters under the bed behind, only to have the monsters in my head keep my scared. I'm ready to run toward instinct, even if it's scary and even if it feels counter-intuitive.
Just as families are beginning to lay down their plans for a delicious dinner, searching for recipes, making grocery lists and hauling fall-themed decorations out of the closet, I'm doing the opposite: I'm boarding an airplane and leaving the country. Alone.
Why is it so hard to ask for help? The words get stuck in my throat like a dinner roll I've inhaled without a glass of water, and I'm left dry and weary. The speeches I've rehearsed during angry cleaning are such a waste. I could have been listening to a podcast.
I needed pretense. I needed to feel like I was a real person even though I was really a milk machine. And for me, the way I dress has always been an outward extension of who I am, even as my style has changed.
I can't take a long shower with my tunes on full blast. I would love to meet friends for dinner, but I have a new baby at home. The phenomenon of "me" time exists, but in a different way. In this process, I have learned a few things that I thought I'd share.
I will take my coffee peacefully. No, I'm not making some for you. You want to help me make it? Fine. Take notes on my ratios. That could actually be useful information for Sunday. How old do you have to be to drink coffee? I don't care how old you are, you just have to have a job.
Preparation yields time. And time is an invaluable currency. Once I organized the major Mom things -- meals, school, scheduling after school activities -- I emerged cleansed, much like that glorious feeling of showering after an exceptionally sweaty workout.
I didn't brush my hair today. I didn't brush my teeth today either. I got dressed in slightly dirty clothing that was conveniently hanging on my bedroom door. I put on makeup, but only because I had to go to work and I didn't want my boss to run an intervention for me.
I encourage you to go out and buy yourself a beautiful notebook or journal and get started using the above prompts as a guide. You'll find that over time you will organically discover a journal practice that suits you and will no longer need to use headings like those suggested as a guide.
My commitment to "me time" dates for the last 16 years has taught me to trust the choices I've made in my life and to be clear about what is most important. Spending that time was about doing something to enrich my life vs. just maintaining it.