What is self care? Why is it important? I can honestly say that prior to having children I never really thought much about it. Admit it… at twenty-something, pre-responsibility, we were all narcissistic jerks who spent all of our time and money on ourselves (or some version of this). Then somewhere along the way adulting happened, we’ve realized that the bills and kids have taken the better part of our focus, and our self image has been left somewhere in between singledom and motherhood.
In the last year I have severely struggled with everything to do with my self image. The admission of this has been one of the hardest things for me to define. I’m many things in my life… wife, mother, employee, breadwinner, decision maker, bill payer, and the list goes on. Not surprisingly, I lost sight of myself. No big deal, right? WRONG! I’ve recently realized that my lack of self care equated to a negativity that followed me everywhere. The way I looked at myself in the mirror, the way I talked about myself, my self confidence, my overall demeanor, it was all literally affecting my day to day personality. What stopped me in my tracks was the day my 2 year old daughter started imitating me in the bathroom. I would brush my hair she would brush hers, I started putting make up on she wanted some too… my little mini-me. It was in that moment I knew I needed to change the way I looked at myself in the mirror and how I talked about myself. Because in a matter of years (maybe months) she was likely to start repeating all the negativity I was exposing her to.
My internal struggle with self care is mainly due to my naive belief that it’s “selfish and vain”. Reality check… It’s not, it’s about self preservation. The thing is, children grow up and careers end. Eventually, all the needs of today disappear. What are we left with? Unfinished goals, a busy adulthood of parenting and a memory of who we thought we were? Here’s the thing, out of everything I’m consumed by, my husband and my children are my top priorities. The problem is I don’t want to be defined by my children or my husband. I love my children more than life itself, my husband too for that matter. But they are not intrinsically who I am, nor do I want them to specifically define all that I am. My children are a reflection of me, and that being said if I can’t be the best version of myself, what am I really teaching them. So I’m working on it… harder than I’ve worked on a lot of things in my recent history. I desperately want to raise little people to be confident adults who are confident in who they are and where they belong. This world is big, scary and often relentlessly unforgiving. If I do nothing else for my children I want them to believe that “THEY ARE ENOUGH”.
Back to my original question… What is Self Care? I googled (as I do everything in my life), and found a fact sheet that perfectly defines it by Fort Garry Womens Resource Centre.
“Self care is care provided for you, by you.” The article also goes on to explain why self care is specifically so important for women. “Women spend much of their lives nurturing others. When we find ourselves focusing more on others than ourselves, we become worn out, stressed out and run down.” It’s like whoever wrote this is inside my head, reading my thoughts… WHOA! This has literally been groundbreaking for me. There is no room for guilt, I’m not alone. In my New Year, New Beginning post I mention a goal of mine this year is to work on creating time for me. That self care resolution is quite frankly my alternative to a weight loss goal.
Stay tuned for Business of Self Care – Part II. I want to explore how easy self care is, some thoughts on what it might look like for me (and perhaps a reader or two), and finally how one moment of selfishness gave me a whole new perspective on myself.