The other day I told my 4 yr old that I felt like reading but I will play with her instead. And she immediately replied with “Mommy, you need to take care of you first.”
If you know me then you already know that tears flowed down my face as I heard her say to me the words I have worked so hard to tell myself the last few years.
Last summer I remember when I asked for the gift of being home all by myself for 2 days and 1 night. That's when my daughter, Nora, got all packed up, excited to go to Legoland with her Dada so her Mommy can get some time to “take care of herself.”
I have questioned and examined why I used to feel guilty when I would go outside & hang out with my friends or when I would get a massage or when I would just simply do nothing in bed myself. Why do I feel guilty? When I answered this question, the one underlying theme was that I hadn’t experienced my own mother or mothers around me taking care of themselves much and when they did, they usually felt guilty about it. I know my mom did this because she experienced the same with her mom & the generational cycle continues. For many of us, self care and mothering a newborn/toddler simply isn’t modeled.
So with this, I realized that the only way I can stop this cycle is by showing it to my own daughter consistently. I can’t tell you how many times in the day I say “I need to do this 1st so I can make my heart happy, then I can be a good mommy to you the rest of the day.”
We, as moms, must be honest with our kiddos when we give ourselves some self-love. Saying things like “I am going to go get a massage so I can take care of myself” or”I am going to spend the entire day with my friends because they make my heart happy” plants beautiful little seeds for our little ones that makes them see how important it is to take care of ourselves.
So, when Nora reminded me to take care of myself first, without any sadness or guilt from either of us, I received a beautiful gift from the universe: a confirmation of what I have worked so intentionally and diligently on the past 4 years.
Now, at age five, she often teaches me about self-love by saying things like:
"I love you so much but I love me the most."
"I love my curly hair."
"Thank you for me."
We can change the cycle, piece by piece... We just gotta ask the questions and do the work.