Friends, I'm writing this one while home alone with my 2 kids, so show me some grace if this doesn't all align. My oldest is in the bedroom watching Bob's Burgers (judge me - I dare you). The youngest is standing across from me yelling, "MOMMY, ELMO" (normally when my computer comes out, he gets to play Sesame Street games). It's actually really fitting that I'm home alone with them while writing today's message. So far this morning, I've already given 110% to them: I ate 1/8th of the last Poptart because Malcolm wanted it, I helped them both brush their teeth WHILE I was going to the bathroom, I am swatting at little fingers trying to type on MY computer, I washed all their little cups and plates for when we eat lunch, I stopped in the middle of this to change a disgusting poopy diaper, and I did all this after I held Malcolm the entire night even though my back protested with raging spasms. I'm not saying any of this because I think anyone owes me an award; this is par for the course. I say it as a cautionary tale to other moms: you don't have to be a martyr all the time. You can do everything I just listed and STILL find things that make you feel human again (who are we kidding? No human could do what a mom does in a single day).
**Sidenote: I say "mom/mother" in this because I identify as one. If you are a parent who sacrifices everything for your child, you are a saint and a hero and the world is better because you're in it. I don't mean to leave anyone out or gender any of these experiences.
Day 8: Go On A Run
I know you have all heard something like "You can't pour from an empty cup," or "Put your oxygen mask on before trying to help others." And, we all know that means we have to practice self-care before we can truly enrich the lives of the people around us. In theory, we all nod our heads, superimpose those quotes over beautiful pictures of serene lakes, and share the hell out of them on Instagram. We say we practice self-cafe. We encourage our friends to "do you, boo." But if I asked you to write down the last time you did something truly for yourself, could you do it? The difficult part of true self-care is doing it for YOURSELF.
I'm going to speak in regard to motherhood, but I think this applies to anyone who is expected to show up and deliver actions and attitudes of which other people feed on a daily basis. You get caught up in the day to day: planning dinner, making dinner, doing dishes, folding laundry, giving baths, playing kitchen, brushing teeth. You don't lose yourself all at once; it happens slowly. Some people might start to shift with discomfort in their chair as I go down this route because we live in a "martyr mother" society. We believe or are influenced to believe that if we aren't sacrificing our own happiness for our children (or job) 24/7, we are horrible mothers (or employees). I would lay down my life for my children; I know you would too. However, that doesn't mean that we have to slowly deplete ourselves as we make continuous sacrifices for the people we love.
The good news is that it's far easier to "refill your cup" when you make it a conscious practice. My advice is to "go on a run." But, it doesn't have to be a run. I told you to "go on a run" because running saved my life. A friend introduced me to running a few years ago when my anxiety and depression were hitting an adulthood high (postpartum anxiety is real and scary). Running belongs to me and only me. I share it with my husband and daughter in the form of races because it's a joy to share your love and passion with the people you love, but on a daily basis, running belongs to me. I get up at 5:22 am every day, so I can pound 3 miles out on the treadmill before I go to work. I imagine myself like a video game: the little green diamond above my head slowly (or some days quickly) depletes, and as I'm on the treadmill for 30 minutes every day, that green diamond fills up again. You don't have to run. You can read. You can write. You can knit. You can meditate.
I only have 2 rules for what you choose:
1) It has to be for YOU AND YOU ONLY - If I were running for anyone else, my diamond wouldn't fill back up as I ran.
2) It has to be relatively healthy - Your diamond can't refill if you're engaging in activities that leave detrimental residual effects.
You are a great mother, daughter, father, son, friend, wife, husband, employee, and you can continue to devote hours and hours to everything listed above. You can know full well that you'd lay down your life for the people and things you love and believe in. But, that doesn't mean you have to continuously deplete yourself. It's not selfish. It's not irresponsible. It's not unkind. Find 30 minutes (or an hour) and fill that diamond back up...so you can deplete it again in the next 24 hours :)