Mom guilt is real.
I feel it when I’m on my way to work and I get a phone call that my 2 year old is crying for me (that literally just happened, y’all!)
I feel it when I leave home to go to the gym (which can explain why I haven’t been in several months…but I digress).
I feel it when I tell my 9 year old son that have to travel for work and I see his crestfallen expression (Knocks me in the gut every time!).
I feel it when the dishes are piled up in the sink at the end of a busy day, and I cannot even fathom standing up for the 15 minutes it would take to load them in the dishwasher.
In fact, I just felt it again when I had to leave my house for work while Israel was in bed with a migraine headache.
About a year ago, I was perusing instagram, and saw this meme (you cannot pour…). I have heard this phrase several times in the past, but for some reason, on this day, it stopped me in my tracks.
I spend so much of my time giving to others. Sometimes I do not even realize how much I give on a daily basis. I am a wife and mother, which means giving to my children and husband. My career is 100% about giving as a pediatrician and medical educator. I am constantly pouring into others.
There is a Christian song that says “ fill my cup, let it overflow with love.” I would never admit this to anyone, but I HATED that song for YEARS.
It just seemed so incredibly selfish and so-indulgent. I promise you, guys-I would cringe whenever it was sung.
I now know that that is a result of my not understanding what the lyrics meant. Jesus instructed us to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Many of us focus on the loving thy neighbor part, but forget that we must love ourselves. In fact, can I even love my neighbor if I don’t know how to love myself?
Back to the song: the song writer illustrates that in order to have love that flows to others, my cup must be full. If I have no crystal light (we don’t drink juice in my house! Lol) in my cup, yet my kids ask me for some, how will I give it to them?
Aren’t they better off when my cup is completely full, so that I can pour into others?
If I try to put Selah’s oxygen mask on, but mine isn’t on, frankly we both won’t make it. However, if I take a little time to place mine on, then I am in a much better place to help her.
As an introvert and an empath I have become keen about recognizing when my battery is drained. I know I need to recharge when I get irritated or annoyed easily. I definitely know when I get upset or annoyed with my kids just for doing the things that kids do (c’mon, somebody!).
I used to just beat myself up and try to do better, but that just meant more giving and more being drained. Instead, now I know that this means that I need to rest. Especially when I notice that my being drained has the worst impact on those closest to me: my amazing family.
Isn’t it interesting that when we burn out the people we pass our flames onto first are the ones closest to us?
But I digress.
We deserve to take some time to check in on ourselves. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What brings me joy?
Let me pause here. Yes, your children bring you joy. Yes, your marriage, or work, or soccer practice, or cooking for your family…Yes, sis. Those things bring you joy. But…what else? Do you enjoy photography? Reading? Sewing? Writing poetry? Going to baseball games? What solo or group activities/experiences/things bring you joy but are not connected to your children or your spouse/significant other? If you are having trouble coming up with anything, that is okay. We are taught as women to give give give, and no one teaches us how to receive pleasure or joy. Take a week and notice things that bring you pleasure or joy in your everyday life: the warmth of the sun, a bird singing, looking at the sunset, etc. Jot them down and reflect on them.
- When was I last at total peace?
This one may be tough, because I bet it has been awhile. Try not to beat yourself up: just reflect. During that time, what were you doing? What was going on in your life? What went well? What were you feeling? Jot these things down.
- What daily activities make me happy or centered?
For me, it is waking up early and praying/journaling. I feel centered and at peace when I do this. As a result, I (try to) take little snippets of time to write throughout the day. I take a break and write when I am feeling anxious, worried, or if I get “stuck” on a task. Do you love your bath or shower? Enhance that experience! Buy some bath bombs, try a new scented shower oil, buy some aromatherapy for your shower. Make that a daily dose of joy for yourself. Do you love nature? Wake up early and take a 20 minute walk. Enjoy the cool breeze on your face (I’m not sure what that feels like, given I live in Florida nd given #climatechange). You don’t have to go on vacation every week to feel centered in your daily activities.
- When was the last time that you went on vacation? Yeah, man. Listen: if you have the means and have the time off from work, please take a vacation. Regularly. I don’t care if you go to South Africa or South Carolina. God allowed men to invent planes and TSA precheck for this reason. Adrian and I take a trip every year with the kids, but we are working on actually taking a vacation with just the 2 of us. If you are unable to get away for whatever reason, take a STAYCATION! Check out resortpass.com and see if you can find a deal on a one day stay at a resort. Adrian and I do this often, and it is a great way to get away from it all.
Not only should you take care of yourself, you MUST take care of yourself. A dear friend recounted the story of her precious father to me recently.
He was a university professor, beloved by his students and coworkers alike. He was working one day and suffered a massive stroke at his desk at work.
Both of our tears began flowing when she told me that they cleared out his desk the same week.
The same week.
She shared this story, as painful as it is, because she now understands the importance of self-care and self-preservation.
I want my time on this planet to mean something. I want to serve my precious family, my patients, and those in my community.
I have big dreams of the professional and philanthropic work that I will pursue with the hope of affecting the lives of my community.
I cannot do any of those things if I am not here.
Do you struggle with self-care? What are some of the things you want to incorporate into your every day routine to give you your daily dose of joy and peace? What holds you back from doing those things? Let’s talk about it below!
Peace and Love,