As a single person, I did so much better with self care. I worked hard, played hard and remembered to take time for me. It was not unusual for me to work all day, take a nap, work all night, then go out and dance. Actually, it was my norm…oh the energy of your 20’s! In my early 30’s, I slowed down, but still managed self care, yoga, art classes, reading books, exercise. Life was good…I still was busy, but life was good.
Then I had children. Now I love being a Mom, please don’t get me wrong. The reality is though, once my kids came along, my self care took a hit. Art classes were replaced with coloring books and doing kid focused art projects, fun but not as rewarding. Yoga was replaced with baby and me classes, reading was a luxury that I know longer had time for, unless it was that five minutes sitting on the commode…when I didn’t get interrupted. (Okay, you all know I did not read, because what Mom can go to the bathroom for five minutes and not get interrupted?) Exercise consisted of chasing a toddler while wearing an infant. I simply did not have time, or maybe didn’t make the time. I was caught up in motherhood.
My kids are a bit older now, 5 and 9. I am making more time for me…I work out on occasion. I read more. I spend more time with me. I have registered for a lot on online classes, but seem to get distracted before finishing them. There are many days I long for more me time, and know that instead I need to be mom. There are other days that I feel like, “Forget those kids, I need me time. ” Then the Momma guilt kicks in. The thing is I often feel like there just isn’t enough time to do EVERYTHING I NEED to do, let alone everything I WANT to do…so how can I have me time? Or that is how I thought. Then some shifts happened in my personal life, and I realized, I can’t afford not to take time out for me. You see, my lack of self care wasn’t just affecting me, it was affecting those that I loved. I was tired. Not like your normal tired. I was bone dry, exhausted, overwhelmed and tapped out. I didn’t laugh as much, and I most certainly wasn’t fun to be around. Fairly frequently, I was grumpy, maybe down right, well you know.
I began my self care slowly. I actually took days off while the kids were in school, and slept. I began building my friendships again. I scheduled nights out, with the girls…and appreciated other women making me laugh and relating to the craziness that is motherhood. I reconnected with my tribe. My husband and I went on dates, and became friends again. I started getting manicures and pedicures…and not beating myself up for time wasted. I said “no” more. What I realized, was that I became a better wife, a better mother, a better therapist, and a better enterpreneur. I was a healthier person when I took care of myself first. It continues to be a journey. Sometimes, I say yes too much. Sometimes, I feel guilt for not being able to be there for someone. Sometimes, I still long for my single days, where I just cared for me. Sometimes, I hear other people say spend as much time with your kids as you can, they grow up fast and feel sad. I also try to remember that when I take time for me, I am taking time for them too. In it all, I just try and find balance, and not let any one area get so far out of line that I end up dropping all areas. For you see, yes, I am a Mom and a Wife and a friend and a therapist and an entrepreneur and a school volunteer and (put your own “and” in here). However, I am a person first. A person with limited time and energy. A person who loves being all those things so much, that she knows she has to pull in, to do all of those things well, some of the time. So Momma, let go of the guilt. Go do something for you, and remember, you are doing it for your kids….they need to see you making yourself a priority, so they learn how to make themselves a priority.
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Love and Healing,
I had a friend say to me, “Oh my god, I am so glad to hear you lose it, it makes me feel better to know you are a therapist and sometimes lose your cool.” Uhm, yes…I am human. I lose my mind, I curse, at times I do stupid stuff…this morning, half way through my morning, I realized I had my pants on backwards…they are yoga pants, do they really have a front and a back? The thing is, when you are sitting on this side of the couch, it is easy to appear like you have it all together and you are perfect. Spend twenty minutes with me though, and you will know that is far from how I see myself. Far from how I live my life.
I make mistakes. My kids drive me crazy. Sometimes, I yell and then have the Mommy guilt afterward. I forget to get my oil changed. I frequently lose my keys. Occasionally, I want to leave it all behind and go sit drinking some kind of fru-fru drink in Bora Bora. I am human. It is that humaneness that gives me compassion, kindness and understanding of my clients. I wouldn’t want it to be any other way. I have been on both sides of the couch, and well the therapist that just sits there, and does not show me their humanity, is not the one I want or need. I need to know that you are real…that you screw up. How do you expect me to be vulnerable with you, if I think that you are perfect? I hope that I can offer my clients the same. I hope that they can see my imperfections, and feel safe to be vulnerable…I mean that whole opening yourself up is hard enough…let alone to someone who can’t let you see them.
As I sit across the couch from you, there is no judgement. Why? Because I know you are learning. I know what if feels like to try to figure out your path, and to fall off of it. I screw up too. I want those in my life to offer me the same kind of positive regard I try and offer my clients. There are going to be times I am off base, run late, or am just struggling. There are times when I have had an argument with a loved one, and while I try to check it at the door, and be fully present for you, my thoughts may wander for a minute. I could try and hide it, but as my client, you will see I don’t hide my emotions well, and comment. I will own it, and refocus. There will be other times, that I see and feel your pain so deeply, that I will tear up with you. My focus so on that you will think I have read your mind. You see, I am not perfect. I see it in you, and you see it in me.
I often joke that perfection is like a unicorn, you can chase it all day, but even if you do catch it, it will end up being a goat. No one is perfect. However, I am perfectly imperfect. I own my imperfections. I try and make them better. I try and make healthy choices, and sometimes I royally mess things up. However, I learn. That is my gift to my clients. I learn and I am willing to share those experiences with you. I am willing to be real with you. In doing so, I create a safe place to witness your mistakes because I was fortunate enough to have someone along the line witness mine. They held me accountable with love, and now that I have done a good deal of healing, I can do the same for you. Hopefully, as we go through the process of healing, you are learning too. You will fall down, you will feel guilt, but in being your authentic self, you allow someone else to see you, which opens the door to healing wounds. That is the point of this whole exercise right? To learn, grow, change and find greater happiness? If we can embrace our humanity, and allow ourselves to love each other regardless…this thing we call life might just get a little easier.