‘When did it become okay for me to neglect me? And even worse, when did it become okay for me to joke about my own neglect?’
This is a quote from Dr Kelly Wilson, an American professor of psychology. I gasped when I read it. What a question: When did it become okay for me to neglect me? And yes, I do joke about it. I entertain my friends about my very own lack of self-care:
‘I’m so busy, I forgot to eat. Well, I did eat if you count two snickers, three coffees and a packet of jam rings.’
‘I’ve no time to get my hair cut or highlighted, sure what’s the point? Who on earth would be bothered looking at me?’
And so on… playing the humorous mum martyr card and well, firstly, it’s not that funny and, secondly, how on earth can I teach my children about self-care if I don’t practice it myself?
When I first separated, ten years ago, I was struggling with two young children, a stressful job, a painful mediation process and trying to find somewhere new for us to live. I was desperately sad yet I kept up a happy front for my children. I bottled up all my feelings and concentrated on being the best mother I could be. Self-care was not a term I knew or understood.
The very first time I heard it in fact was at an open AA meeting. A friend of mine asked me to accompany her and, wanting to be supportive, I went along. There was a woman who shared her experience of recovery and a tiny detail of her story struck a chord with me.
This woman spoke of her hectic morning routine. It was exactly like mine. Waking my children, getting them dressed, teeth and hair brushed, getting their breakfast, making their lunches, grabbing coats and shoes and getting into the car and off to school. And throw into the mix the odd tantrum or lost gym bag or forgotten homework! She talked of her sobriety and how she had begun to do one small thing for herself: sitting down for five minutes each morning with her children. Why? Because she deserved breakfast. This blew my mind!! I never had time for breakfast!
The very next morning, while the kids were munching their cereal and I was standing making sandwiches, I suddenly sat down at the table with a cup of tea and a piece of toast.
‘Mum, what are you doing?’ my daughter asked.
‘Is your tummy sick?’ my son asked.
‘No, I said. ‘I’m having my breakfast.’
They shrugged. And that was that.
My very first introduction to self-care.
So, fellow Moodscopers, here are my teeny tiny suggestions:
Don’t neglect your lovely self.
Don’t joke about neglecting yourself.
Be kind and respectful to your mind and your body.
Buy those flowers / hand-cream / body wash / good coffee etc etc etc
And take some time to sit down and have your breakfast - you deserve it!
Salt Water Mum x
A Moodscope member.