January 6, 2021

For the ones who Mother Everyone but Themselves.

Balancing motherhood and self-care.

When you become a mom, you transform.

Your entire being changes, your priorities shift, and your habits become new. You adapt to your new life and build your days around all that newfound, endless love that resides in your heart for the sweetest little bundle you’ve brought into this world.

But motherhood does not wait for us to be ready for all of this change.

Motherhood does not come with a how-to guide, playbook, or a blueprint.

There is no schedule; you’re always on the clock. Motherhood does not wait for the laundry to be sorted, folded, and put away. It does not wait for you to finish that phone call, project, or text message. Motherhood does not wait for you to be happy and it does not wait for you to be financially stable. It does not wait for fear, anxiety, or depression.

Motherhood doesn’t wait.

Motherhood is every moment of every day, for the rest of your life.

Motherhood is a learning experience that changes you.

When you become a mother, you learn to be flexible. You learn that despite how hard you plan, there are just too many unpredictable variables. Nothing is set in stone. You learn to bend when you want to break. You learn to slow down because little legs take little steps. Then, you slow down some more because time flies faster than you ever imagined. You learn to be kinder with your words and you find yourself more aware of your surroundings. You learn a lot about yourself and just how strong you really are.

We’ve all heard about how beautiful motherhood is.

We’ve seen the smiles on our mothers’ faces when we show them our love. The supportive words and kind eyes that bring us comfort when we are far from comfortable.

We know what motherhood looks like, and we know that it’s the most rewarding role to ever play in life. There is truly no love like the love of a mother. Not a single thing in this world can compare to the smile on your child’s face, the light that shines in their big, beautifully innocent eyes.

What we don’t always hear about is the part of motherhood that is mothering yourself.

It’s a topic that is often neglected in conversations with new moms. It’s not easy to talk about how motherhood can feel scary, lonely, and hard.

As we navigate through the journey of raising children, we often forget that we are still growing too. We’re all just winging it—learning as we grow, leaning on our elders and peers for guidance when we’re lost.

When reflecting on childhood memories, we did not always recognize that our parents were out there growing up, too. We now turn the pages back with new perspectives, understanding our own mothers differently. A whole new admiration for your mother is born when you become a mother yourself. Your perspective goes through a metamorphosis like no other, and life is viewed through a whole new lens.

Motherhood is a balancing act. Every day brings a new adventure and more laundry.

And I found myself pouring everything I had into my family, chores, and work. This is a popular theme among my fellow mama friends.

Eventually, I realized I was pouring from an empty cup.

I was scrambling to find time for myself, for my friends. The hobbies that I once enjoyed seemed painful. Hell, I was too tired for hobbies or friends. After wrestling with my desire to be the perfect mom and wife for the first three years of motherhood, I found myself searching for more than just time—but for myself.

Over time, I realized that I had abandoned myself and the things that bring me joy. The things that make me unique, the things that make me feel good, were no longer a part of me. I buried them under to-do lists, guilt, and opinions that didn’t ever belong to me. The very things that make me a good mom, the reasons my husband chose me to be his partner in life—I’d left them behind.

When was the last time I actually had a relaxing moment to myself?

When was the last time I did something for myself without rushing or feeling guilty?

When was the last time I had a conversation with my husband that wasn’t about our kids?

I became exhausted, uninterested, and on edge.

It was after a serious case of burnout that I came to the realization that I needed to prioritize self-care.

I could not be the mother I wanted to be for my children if I did not start taking care of myself, both physically and emotionally. My needs were not being met and my energy levels plummeted. I actually felt sick. My body ached, my head hurt, and anger resided on the tip of my tongue. I lost weight because I didn’t prioritize my nutritional needs and stress ruled my body. My emotional state was dark and held together with an eggshell-thin veil. My personal relationships began to suffer and I felt alone. Anyone who has been there knows: depression is a dimly lit place that can make for a tricky escape.

I broke down. Changes needed to be made.

I felt so alone as I worked through this, and on some days, I still do feel alone. It’s an ongoing journey. Each day, I make a conscious effort to prioritize my own needs.

Truth is, I’m not alone. So many mothers have a similar experience in their early years of child raising, some much longer. My own friends have shared similar stories about their own experiences.

I feel compelled to share my own self-care, self-love journey with you with the intention of sparking a light that may inspire you to begin to prioritize your own self-care. Because a healthy mama is a good mama.

I started therapy.

That was the hardest and most important step. I think it’s important to normalize therapy. If you have a cold, you see your doctor. If you slice open your finger, you see a doctor. If your eyes are failing you, you see an optometrist. When your teeth are aching, you call your dentist.

If your emotions are a mess, why wouldn’t you see a therapist? I will teach my children that their mental health is just as important as their physical health. I will lead by example through prioritizing self-care and meeting myself with compassion.

I prioritized yoga in my life, diving deeper into my practice.

I promised myself that I would carve time out of each day to be on my mat where I would sit with my emotions and let go of what no longer serves me. Meditative movements keep me on a mindful path where I can find clarity. I am able to rest and restore my energy through yoga and the breathing techniques I’ve learned from my teachers.

I began writing again.

I made room for my creativity to flow freely. It’s nourishment for my soul. Poetic thoughts help guide me through the difficult moments and highlight the silver linings.

I started asking for help.

I am surrounded by loving people who want to help. They say “it takes a village” for a reason. It truly does. We’re lucky to have a village built on love. They continue to show me how lucky we are in the moments when it’s easy to forget. Our village is made up of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and teachers. Our village grows as our children do.

I changed my relationship with my body.

I exercise because it feels good. I stretch whenever I need it. I eat with the intention of balancing nourishment for both my body and soul. For me, ice cream is soul food. Vegetables are fuel. I deserve and need both. I look at my “imperfections” with a different perspective and find gratitude for the things my body does for me each day.

I make time for the things I enjoy.

Motherhood involves mothering yourself and that will look differently on everyone. We must set an example for our children and teach them that it’s important to take care of the body and mind they live with each day. Our children deserve only the best and we can more easily provide them with that if we prioritize our own well-being.

I’m here to say that you deserve to take time for yourself and that you should.

Do not apologize for it—let go of the guilt. It’s most likely self-inflicted and unnecessary. People who make you feel badly for taking time for yourself have their own problems to work out. Ignore them.

The people who love you know that you deserve rest and that your battery needs recharging. You’re human too. Your family will see the light within you beginning to glow again as you find your balance. They will love you even more for it.

Motherhood is more than raising children. It is experiencing growth while you watch your little ones grow. It is the greatest love you will ever know. Motherhood is unpredictable and imperfectly perfect.

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