As an adult, I look at my mother and wonder how she did it all. A woman who raised us with just a fraction of the resources I have access to (and I don’t just mean financially), how did she do it?
But then I remember that although we turned out well, my mom is paying the price today for putting everyone’s needs in front of her own. Her struggles with depression and her physical health tell the story of a woman who’s been through too much.
There is no doubt that motherhood is hard. You don’t even have to be a mother to recognize the countless challenges that come with raising human beings. It’s a beautiful experience, but it comes with its share of troubles.
In the six years that I have been a parent, I have learned a lot about my children and myself. They have brought out the very best in me while highlighting my not-so-amazing qualities. They’ve even taught me a lot about how to be a better spouse to my husband. Who knew these tiny beings held so much power? It truly is amazing.
But I still come up short at times. I have days, where maybe I am just being hard on myself, but I also have days, where there is no question in my mind that I failed. I did or said something that didn’t serve my family well at all. On those tough days, I take a hot shower, stretch, say a prayer and head to bed.
I do these things because I know that treating myself well—with some level of compassion and grace—is the only way I will survive and thrive. I know that eating junk food, falling short on sleep and burying myself in sorrow and pain doesn’t bring me any closer to being the mom and wife I need to be. If anything, that destructive behavior is like taking steps backward. I’m not interested in doing that.
As mothers and wives, we always focus on making the best decisions for our children and our husbands. Our lives are about:
Cooking healthy meals
Picking the right schools
Praying for our husband and kids
Planning family trips
Making sure the kids are active
Nurturing our marriages
And the list goes on and on and on. But what about you? What about what you eat in between those healthy meals you make for your family? What about doing work that you love? What about praying for yourself? What about planning your own personal getaway or girls night out. What about pursuing a physical activity that will keep you healthy and fit? What about nurturing yourself?
I know we always hear all this hype about self-care, and it can get to be a little annoying, but the hype is not to be ignored. The reason everyone is talking about self-care is because we live in a culture where self-care seems to be devalued.
As an entrepreneur and a mother, I see it every day. For some, being busy is something they wear like a badge of honor. For others, time to workout just isn’t realistic. And I know so many moms who are proud to share how many activities their kids are a part of and what they have planned for their jam-packed summer (I’ve been that mom).
But the truth is that all this planning and doing makes us tired. Pouring into your children and your marriage constantly, without pouring into yourself, is a recipe for disaster.
Yes, your children need you. Yes, you have to nurture your marriage. But if you plan to do all those things without taking care of yourself, you are sure to fail. And the failure may not be immediate. You may push through the difficult days year after year, raising wonderful, well-adjusted children. But I promise you that at some point in your life, you will realize that you feel empty. You will realize that you gave so much…that you have nothing left to give.
And while talking about self-care is all good, taking serious action is what matters.
I am all about getting a manicure and a pedicure because it makes me feel pretty. I think massages are fabulous. But we have to dig deeper, ladies. Self-care is about picking up the phone to schedule a therapy session. Self-care is about saying “no” to that invitation you got because you just don’t feel like doing it. Self-care is about taking action to get comfortable in your skin instead of accepting those extra 70 pounds as your new normal.
I want every woman out there to know that the most important decision she will ever make as a mother and as a wife is the decision to put herself first. I want you to know that you will surely be a better mom and wife when you decide to do that.
And maybe the people around you will need to adjust to this new person who makes herself the priority, but that’s okay. Adjusting is their burden, not yours.
Self-care shouldn’t be seen as some trend that will get played out by next year. We have to view self-care as a permanent way of life. We have to realize that how we take care of ourselves determines how we move through the world, and that movement determines the quality of our relationships with our children and our spouses.
BMWK family, what do you plan to do so you can be a better mom and wife?