This is not a New Year’s resolution blog… or a blog to talk about how bad 2020 was. We all had our struggles…some more than others. I personally know friends who lost loved ones to Covid and any other number of illnesses. The two young men missing on the Mississippi River are now presumed dead. I lost a college friend the same way. He left behind a wife and grieving parents. I am forever grateful that my family is healthy. Things could be different. There is nothing magical about the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve and resolutions tend to be temporary promises we make to ourselves. Have I lost you yet? Understand that these are not negative observations, but just my personal opinions.
From the time our current situation started in March, moms have stepped up to the challenge (dads are awesome, but I am writing from the female experience.) I remember crying in Greer’s parking lot in Grand Bay, Alabama, because the kindly grocery boy was sincerely apologetic that they did not have the basics I needed. Just like most of you, I could not find bread, milk, or toilet paper when this all started. Moms added many titles to their already prolific resumes. Many stayed in the outside workforce as “essential” while others worked from home and also helped children with virtual school. I taught from home for awhile. Fortunately, my older two are almost grown and my preschooler was fairly flexible to work around.
In normal circumstances, moms tend to put their families first. In extenuating circumstances, this is even more obvious. Whether making sure their families have masks, sanitizer, and/or the basic needs, moms continue to come through. I am sure many of us spent hours (probably online) finding the perfect Christmas presents and making sure to order on time! My time at home last spring was what I could describe as “blessed.” Really. There were nature walks with my little one and time to hang out with my older two. I would not change that for the world. One realization I have had this year, however, is that I have neglected one family member. I have neglected myself.
I am sure many of you have done the same. Most women are nurturing by nature or at least learn to be that way by necessity. Often, I am perplexed as to the unrealistic expectations set upon us… or those expectations we unrealistically set upon ourselves. There are various reasons for this and may include upbringing, personality, family situations, and even guilt at times. Any time my family inquires about what we are having for dinner, I feel guilty when I know I have no intention of cooking. Guilt. Yes, that is the buzzword for everything I feel, it seems. When I get short, cannot afford the vacation, do not cook the dinner and so on, I always feel guilty. Taking time to take care of myself is obviously not at the top of my list of things to do.
For the sake of time, I will not elaborate on the Proverbs 31 woman. There are a plethora of blogs and Bible studies devoted to this. She is awesome… and she’s probably tired. Tired. Another buzzword. Physically tired. Mentally tired. Emotionally tired. Get the picture? My favorite meme this year is the one about the frontal lobe. Ladies, we have to do better for ourselves. This does not mean ignoring your family or responsibilities. It is called setting boundaries. And this is where I intend to start Hiding the Candy (I capitalized to make it look official 🤣).
Stay with me. A couple of grocery orders ago, I put some of my favorite candy in the on-line cart. I told NO ONE. When I unloaded the groceries, I hid the candy. One night during the weekend, I turned on a show I wanted to watch and ate the candy. A week later, I did it AGAIN. It cost about one dollar and made me feel like I was some kind of undercover mom spy being sneaky and selfish… it was great!
So how can moms take care of themselves without feeling as if they are sacrificing their family’s needs? Take small steps. If you are the mom that has regular pedicures, massages, or girls-only weekends, this may not appeal to you (no offense!). I am talking to the mom who has not pottied alone in two years, has not gone on a proper date for months, and cannot remember how to apply nail polish. You must. You must do this for you and for your family.
Leave the mess alone. I am not condoning having a messy house all the time. But sometimes we are tired. We may not feel well. The mess can wait. Better yet, delegate. I am SO bad at this because I can “do it better.” Seriously, though. Give your family responsibilities. They are as capable as you!
Lock the bathroom door. My husband knows that I MUST have some time to myself in the bathroom to shower. My little one loves me and I love him, but he’s a momma’s boy and follows me everywhere! I need that time to decompress, pray, think… sometimes I take a bubble bath. I highly recommend this.
Primp. Shave your legs. Give yourself the at-home mask. Paint your toenails. Wash your hair. Use the essential oils or perfume that cost so much. Before children, we had more time to look our best. You absolutely still deserve to take the time to feel pretty.
Simplify dinner. Frozen lasagna never hurt anyone. Drive through if you must. Take advantage of leftovers. Family does not like leftovers? Fine. There is always cereal.
Be honest about your needs. I am guilty about walking around and ignoring my feelings or waiting until I cannot hold them in and “snipping” at my family. Women are usually not adept at stating what we need from others. We put ourselves last. Telling your significant other that you are overwhelmed or need time away (a date or a Target trip without kids) is perfectly acceptable.
Give yourself grace. This is probably the hardest of all for me. I can replay a conversation or a time I got upset at my family with the best. My middle name should be “Sorry” as much as I say it. If you are doing your best and love your family, be kind to yourself. God is so quick to forgive us, yet we have a hard time forgiving ourselves.
When all else fails… reach out. Call a friend. Go to therapy. Join a support group. But do not neglect yourself. Your family needs you. You are valuable. Take care of yourself. Take time for yourself. Buy your favorite candy. And hide it.