Monday, April 17, 2017:

What a Manicure Can Teach Us About Selfcare!

I sat on the edge of my bed, my husband sleeping soundly beside me and my first child (finally) swaddled and restful in his own crib.  I was too tired, burnt out, and run down to express any form of emotion.  It was a numbness I had never experienced.  I needed adult time and found myself getting annoyed at my husband who offered very little conversation...

Me: "How was work?" 
Him: "Good- uneventful"
ME: "TELL ME MORE!  Tell me anything!  What did you have for lunch?  How many cups of coffee did you get to drink?  How was your commute?!"


Exactly what he wanted to hear after a 12 hour shift in a job that's undoubtedly stressful.

I needed stimulation, I needed sleep, I needed structure that didn't come at the expense of the additional physical exertion of mommy-and-me activities (bucket seat to stroller, bucket seat to car, stroller to trunk....repeat).  

I remember feeling a shuttering emptiness when I realized that the simple act of getting a manicure, something I had so easily done at a lunch break or after work, now required childcare.  All spontaneity of my past life- gone. All indulgent moments of selfcare erased from my agenda with the focus being solely on my child.

This isn't meant to be funny when I type it, but the need for a manicure saved me! 

Listen, things can be deep and dark and NO amount of "me time" will help with that- and if you think you are in that place, you are not alone and you can find help- try here.  

But finally finding a sitter to come on a regular basis so I could get a "store-bought" mani got me a little closer to feeling like my old self.  And feeling like oneself is and always will be important. 

This small selfcare gesture taught me so much about taking care of me at a time when I focused primarily on taking care of others!

I literally cared for a living being in his entirety- feeding, bathing, napping, changing, loving, snuggling... (ok, these last two were pretty easy).  So much of My ENTIRE life was consumed by caring for this other living creature and my selfcare needs went out the window!  Ironically, the overwhelming, all-consuming aspect of motherhood is the same thing that helped me justify these indulgent moments of selfcare.  I am teaching another human being how to exist, surely it's ok to get a manicure!

I needed to breathe my own air.  I needed to have my own experiences.  I needed a break in the never-ending-ness of parenthood. 

My father's favorite quote- Do what you need to do, then what you want to do...

I've heard this so many times and respect it's message so much that it is very likely singed into my DNA.  In fact, when I became a stay-at-home parent, there were just SO MANY "need to do firsts" that all of my wants went out the window and lost their value (including sleep and selfcare!).  If I found myself resting on the couch, I could only think of all of the other things I should be tending to- laundry, dishes, general tidying up.  

I had a sitter, but I was only carving out time to do what I needed to do and using her so that I could handle the "essentials...the "need to do's"- buy groceries, pick up prescriptions, go to the dentist, datenight.*

I shrugged off my "want to do's" because they seemed like luxuries.  Not necessities.  And I lost nearly all sense of self!

I needed time for groceries AND a manicure.  I needed time to get a cavity filled AND get my hair done.  I needed time to get the car inspected AND to get to the gym.  I needed time for datenight* AND alone time.

It took me a long time to figure out what my "balance cocktail" was- how much kid-free time I needed, how much adult interaction I needed, how much independent time I needed... and I still need to turn the dial up or down depending on the week.  

But carving out time for selfcare- coffee alone or with a friend, a manicure, a facial (because skincare is a pretty great form of selfcare)- THIS is what brought me the balance I NEEDED and WANTED. 

Ok, so what's the selfcare moral of the story here?  Get a babysitter to watch the kids while you do your groceries, but make sure you get your manicure first- you don't want the milk to spoil ;)

*Important note on datenight- in reality, I know datenight is a luxury!!  But, I also see it as a "must do" to keep a marriage strong.  So for the purpose of this post, it rolls up into a "responsibility" that serves a purpose other than a "me-centric" selfcare moment.  It's an "us-care" moment ;)
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