When I was six months pregnant with twins, I talked my husband into getting an L-shaped sectional as an act of self-care. My cute, little micro-suede sofa from my single life no longer cut it. I needed something heftier, sturdier—something to hold all of me up.
After he said “yes” to my new couch, I was ecstatic because I knew my life was going to dramatically change. No longer did I have to twist and turn like a manatee on a rock. All of me (well, almost) could fit when lying down and I could even bring my extra favorite body pillows (yes, there were two) to wedge just below my tummy to hoist it up as I enjoyed eating all of the crazy things my babies craved: pounds of hummus, pickle sandwiches, and endless cans of peaches.
Every Mom Needs to Make Time to Slow Down
I was very pregnant. So pregnant. To give you an idea of size, both my babies were born full term for twins and weighed in at a healthy seven pounds apiece. Now, that is a whole lot of baby—especially for a new mom. I’m still not sure how they got the space, but somehow, miraculously, I was able to stretch and stretch and stretch to accommodate them. They’ve always been such demanding (but so adorable!) little nuggets.
Around this same time, I also decided to cut back on work and work from home. I was getting out of breath when walking back and forth from the office and dizziness would strike off and on throughout the day. And this is when the gnawing whisper began: slow down.
The whisper turned into a crossing guard at an elementary school shouting, “Slow down!” My mother’s gut or intuition and these more-than-mild nudges led me to the ultimate realization that my main job was to grow these babies and make sure they came into the world with their best chances for health.
Twin pregnancies, especially for older women (by the way, whoever decided being over 35 was a “geriatric pregnancy”—I have some beef with them), can have complications. So, I slowed down. I started working from home. I took very long naps every afternoon and stood in the shower and rubbed my belly with lime and bergamot salt scrub every night. And oh, the lounging! The glorious, delicious lounging on that L-shaped sectional.
Why Is It So Hard For Moms to Practice Self-Care?
Now that the babies are on the outside, taking care of myself (for them, but also for me) is equally as important as when they were in utero. But most days, it can be so difficult to do. There are meals to prepare, diapers to change, laundry to fold, toilets to scrub, groceries to get, family to FaceTime, a husband to hang out with, Zoom meetings to attend, and the list goes on and on and on. By the end of most days, the last thing I think about (other than consuming lots of sweet or salty or heck—why not both—snacks) is taking care of my precious self in healthy ways.
Unfortunately, it usually takes me getting to the edge. You know what I mean. The momma and wife edge where if one more human being requires me to do one more thing I may snap in half like the stick my son insists is safe to run down the hill with. I’m frazzled, irritable, and when I look in the mirror, I don’t recognize the haggard, Ms. Frumps staring back at me. I need a break—or I might just literally break down.
Therefore, I have learned in motherhood that taking care of myself is an act of radical love.
When Mom Gets a Little Me-Time, It Helps the Whole Family
Thankfully, I still get these nudges from time to time, these whispers or louder shouts to slow down again, and the little reminders that self-care is just as important and just as radical an act as loving on my kids and husband.
I decide to draw a warm bath, sprinkle it with lavender salts, dim the lights, light a candle, and step in. I close my eyes and exhale a long, slow, loving breath. I soak until I almost fall asleep and then wrap my momma bod in a soft towel. I sit on the edge of the bed and rub sweet-smelling lotion onto my legs and feet. If I’ve got a little extra time, I paint my toenails. If I’m feeling feisty, I paint them red. Then I put on the comfiest, cutest sweats and snuggle into the soft indent on my favorite section of the couch.
Again, I exhale and feel loved. And this is radical because I don’t really have the time—but I know I need to make the time. Everyone in my life, including me, benefits from me being as relaxed and rejuvenated as a mom of young kids (or any age kids) can be. I need to learn to consistently love on myself and do those sometimes-simple things to help me care for myself and feel that love. I’m worth it—and momma, so are you!
To hear Dr. Zoe share a little bit more about her book, don’t miss this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: How To Make Self-Care Part of Your Life With Dr. Zoe Shaw – 155!
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