what my election year babies taught me about self care.

me-andcarmen

 

I know the universe has a sense of humor because every time I’ve had a baby it’s been an election year.

So, every four years like clockwork, I get to absorb all the joy and cheer that abounds pre-election on top of healing my body and mind and nurturing my growing family.

Don’t worry I’m not going to talk politics here. I’m only mature enough to crack bad jokes about them on Facebook. If you want serious political talk, there are at least a million other blogs to satisfy your urges. But you’re on my blog, so we’re going to talk about me.

My postpartum experiences tend to be confusing and intense, to say the least. I have three kids, so I’ve picked up some skills along the way and I try to work Self Care like a full time job now.

It fascinates me (and terrifies me) how selfish we can be when we don’t take care of ourselves. I know for certain I am a better mom when I make my wellness a priority.

Self Care is more than bubble baths and yoga.

It’s about meeting my spiritual needs and being super honest with myself when I get a funky attitude.

It means being especially caring and loving and softer and quieter when anxiety kicks my ass.

It also means I have some pretty strict rules for myself. One of those is I don’t get to wallow in self-pity for very long. The other is that I can’t pretend I’m okay when I’m not.

If you think those rules sound conflicted, you’re right. I mean for them to be because it keeps me in line. It forces me to deal with my stuff. It makes me responsible for my own well-being.

It’s not a perfect art and I definitely have my moments, but I know that I’m way better off than I was in the past when I wasn’t paying any attention to my needs.  I was much more careless. I acted out in embarrassing ways. I said things to people I can never take back. I was always waiting for time to rescue me. And when it didn’t, I burned out.

I think it’s easy to find excuses not to be good to ourselves. The main one for moms is we don’t want to be selfish. I get that. I’m the same way. But, the thing is, the needs never really go anywhere, no matter how many excuses we stuff them under. They surface at our most vulnerable moments, making us bitter and resentful for all the unappreciated work we put in.

But it doesn’t always have to be an either/or thing.

Since I started this post three hours ago, I have had to put it on pause several times so that I could feed my baby, help my preschooler wipe, pick my oldest up from school, cook dinner, eat dinner with my family, feed my baby again and put her down for bed.

Ideally, I would sit down to write without interruption because it feeds my soul and I need it to understand my place in the world. Sometimes I get to have that precious time. Today was definitely not one of those days.

I could’ve thrown in the towel. I could’ve whined about how I never have time for myself. I could’ve given up on this project altogether because, y’all, it is hard sometimes to come up with meaningful content. It’s slightly harder when I have ten other things begging for my attention.

But I am committed to Soulful Simplicity and this mission of making room in my life for what is important.

I know I’m going to backslide. I know there are going to be days when I blow up because I just need a friggin minute to myself and please stop talking and touching me and asking for stuff for the love of all that is good and holy in this world. That’s an inevitable introverted mom thing. But I’m thinking I’ll have less of those moments if I continue to pay attention to how I spend my time and what I give my energy to.

I can’t really pinpoint the moment when I began to understand this so that I could heal and transform it. It was like one day I just woke up and I actually knew the person I saw in the mirror. And I knew I could never put her last again.

And it’s a damn good thing I felt that way too because a lot of things started to change about the way I related to the world. I needed to know I’d have my own back no matter what.

I don’t necessarily recommend having babies during political turmoil, but if it happens you may as well milk it for all the spiritual healing its worth. At four months postpartum, I am still trying to be gentle with myself. I know my limits and I have to constantly remind myself not to push past them, no matter what my pride says.

Motherhood is the gift that came with the personal growth that would’ve most likely happened anyway because I needed to grow. I was ready to shed old layers and really learn to take responsibility for my life. One messy moment at a time.

 

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