Happy Mother’s (Martyr’s?) Day!

I always wanted three!  (My 2 kids with my daughter-in-law Marina)

I always wanted three! (My 2 kids with daughter-in-law Marina)

If you are a mother, I hope you find the time to mother yourself today.  This can be very VERY difficult for many women to do without guilt.  I know, because I spent too many moments martyring myself to others’  needs when my kids were small.

When offers of help came my way, my response was always something like this:  “Oh, no, I don’t need any help.  Yes, I AM exhausted and overwhelmed, but no . . . (heavy sigh) . . . I can manage.”  I felt more uncomfortable asking for help than doing everything myself.  I wondered, wasn’t asking for help a sign of weakness, or worse – selfishness?

A turning point came when a close friend made a perfectly-phrased comment:  “That is so sad that you won’t allow others to love you.”  Hmmm . . . “won’t allow . . .”:  that was the part that hit me.  This was a choice I was making, one that might not actually be serving anyone, maybe least of all the well-intentioned people who did love me and WANTED to help.

Self-care is a primary need for any kind of quality giving to be possible.  This is a need, not an indulgence.  I have learned this well over the years since my children were babies, and now I find myself sounding a little hypocritical when I repeat the well-worn wisdom “When mama’s not happy, nobody’s happy.”  Obviously this is a lot easier for me to follow now that I am an empty-nester without even a dog to care for anymore.

I get it now, and it’s not too late, because there are still plenty of people who would like me to get involved in various investments of my time.  Many are people or causes I truly value, and sometimes I say “yes,” but not always, and certainly not automatically without thinking first.  Learning to say “no” occasionally has allowed me to give more joyfully and freely when I choose to say “yes.”

The basics of self-care include quality sleep, balanced nutrition, manageable stress, and enjoyable movement – sometimes called “exercise,” but the key is “enjoyable.”  Interestingly, they all affect one another.  It is hard to eat well when one is not sleeping well or is too stressed out to feel balanced.  Staying physically active can affect sleep quality, eating choices, and stress level.  You get the idea.

Can you imagine how much more difficult it would be for someone to eat well if they are not caring for themselves with the bare bones basics needed to feel balanced?  Does playing the martyr sound like a healthy strategy to you?

Maybe you have already figured this out, but I notice what seems to be a disproportionate number of women trying to lose weight who are not meeting their most basic self-care needs.  Sometimes the best first step to addressing eating issues is to take a good look at the status of self-care.

Are you mothering yourself well?  Make today a day to commit (or re-commit) to this very important role.  Yes, we are all responsible to some extent for others, but we are first responsible to ourselves.  No martyrs, please!  That kind of giving is not sent with the best motivation anyway.  The best kind of giving is the joyful, conscious, deliberate type.  Enjoy your day!

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