How many times have you heard that self-care is essential as a mom? But the thing is… we don’t do it. Is it because we still don’t know in our bones that self-care isn’t selfish?
We chalk it up to not having the time. But the truth? Is something more insidious… and it has to do with shame and our inability to truly feel that self-care isn’t selfish.
Moms are being shamed left and right nowadays.
For breastfeeding. Not Breastfeeding. Giving their kids junk food. Being too strict with gluten-free or organic food. Staying at home or not staying at home.
But who is shaming us the most?
(Just a heads up this post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog.)
We all talk and know about mom guilt, but the truth is we are feeling something more like shame than guilt.
What’s the difference? To quote the always wise Brené Brown:
“I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful – it’s holding something we’ve done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort.
I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.”
(To read more from Brene Brown, check out her book Rising Strong on Amazon.)
Is fear holding us back from self-care?
Whoa. Is that it? Self-care isn’t selfish, but do we still believe it and fear that we are selfish for needing a little time alone?
Are we afraid that by not just needing, but wanting, alone time (time for self-care) away from our children that somehow we are unworthy of connection with them?
Do we believe that wanting time alone makes us bad mothers because it means we are selfish? So much so that we don’t deserve our children’s love, and therefore if we take that alone time risk the possibility that they will not love us anymore?
For me. Yes. Many times when I leave to go shopping or even just leave the room to use the bathroom, my toddler cries and screams for me, even if she is under the expert care of my husband or her grandparents.
Lately she only wants me. Part of me is so happy about this because it confirms in my mind that I am a rockstar mom. Part of me is confused because it makes me wonder if the attachment she has to me is normal or if we may have a problem. Part of me just wants to run out of the house and be alone for a while.
But my biggest fear eating away at me underneath it all is that big fear of losing the love and connection that I have with my daughter. I worry my “selfish” need for some time alone, for some self-care is going to sever our bond.
I wonder, what if this one time I give her to her Dad and walk away to hear screams, will this be the time she decides she’s done with me?
Now, I know how absurd that sounds. That will not happen. Ever. Parents need to do something exceptionally wrong to their children, and probably do that thing repeatedly to really lose the love and trust of their child. Nevertheless, it is a fear.
This is not the only thing that is causing me shame though.
The very idea that I want to have time alone makes me feel like I’m unworthy of the love and connection I have with my daughter.
What mother wants to be away from her kid?
Well… This one.
I need it. Sometimes I just need to close the bathroom door. Grab the keys and go. Take a nap without having someone else attached to me. Sometimes I can actually accomplish this without guilt and shame because I’ve convinced myself that self-care isn’t selfish.
But not always…
Many times there this intense feeling of shame for (gasp) actually being a human who can’t be everything to everyone all the time, but (speaking of time) I constantly feel time slipping away.
My daughter is growing. Getting older. She’s like a tiny woman sometimes with her insights and big personality.
Every second I spend away from her I’m missing it.
What if I go away for a day, and in that time she stocks mispronouncing basket as “spacket,” and I never hear her utter that little word again?
My heart just broke even considering that inevitability.
The sweet and sour part of motherhood is that, while we will be a mother for eternity, we will not be the same mother for eternity.
Our children grow.
This tiny moment in time will not last.
So the shame of needing even a second of that time away from those precious beings is even more poignant.
And yet the fact remains.
You can’t pour from an empty cup.
All the love we have for those little rugrats will not be expressed in it’s best form if we are constantly overtired and underinspired.
I’ve heard people refer to this as needing to find balance, an equilibrium, having seasons in life… yada yada yada.
The bottom line is, what are you willing to sacrifice and when?
Will you allow this shame and fear to prevent you from taking the time you need for yourself? Or do you suck it up and keep on momming?
For me, I have no idea.
Honestly, I know self-care isn’t selfish, but sometimes I still feel this pull of guilt when I carve out time for myself.
I’m doing the best I can to go with the flow and get the occasional piece of time for myself.
What about you?
How do you stay sane? How do you practice self-care? What would you need to do to convince yourself that self-care isn’t selfish? Comment below and let us know!
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