I used to think that the most important thing I had to do as a parent was take care of my kids. I gave a lot of myself for their care. I remember when my second was born I depended a lot less on my husband for support than I did with the first. Not really because I didn't need it, but more from a sense of pride in carrying it all.
I quit work so I could be home with the kids. They are my job.
I was exhausted. And anxious. And a little unwell. The baby and toddler years were hard years. It’s easier to see now. In the midst of it all I powered through and acted like everything was fine. But I struggled. My anxiety was awful. And I never felt rested. But I just kept going and I rarely asked for help.
This is my job. I love my children. They deserve all of me.
As my kids got older, slept through the night, and gained more independence, I’ve found more time for myself. And I’ve been unpacking all the stories about having to do everything myself. Also the stories about everyone else’s needs coming before mine. Even before kids I recall my pride in being able to "handle" everything myself.
A good, strong person doesn’t need help. People who need help are broken.
Now I’ve erected stronger boundaries over my sleep. I’ve relaxed diet restrictions I was using to combat my hashimotos. I’ve learned to love myself, especially the part that believed these old stories. I'm writing new stories about needs being human and the gift of receiving help. Stories about acceptance and compassion rather than stories about broken things that need to be fixed.
Now that I’m making space to take care of myself, to put myself first more, you know what I’ve noticed? I’ve noticed what a better mother I am able to be. I’ve noticed how much more energy I have to give to my family. I’ve noticed how much more patience I have for my kids.
So, now I know that taking care of myself has to come first. Self-care is the foundation that supports my ability to care for others. Put on your own oxygen mask first, as they say.
Are you putting yourself first? You can start small. Don’t make this another one of those things you think you’re failing at. You are doing the best you can. If you are a mom, you are doing the best you can with a job that wasn’t meant for one person. You were supposed to be supported by a village.
Do you have a moment to consider your needs? Can you ask for help to get that moment?
Wishing you time and space for YOU to rewrite your stories that put you last.