Thursday, January 19, 2012

"Because I'm Worth It!" With Apologies to L'Oreal

I have learned some things about myself over the years, and about other women, as well. Some magical shift occurs when we have children. A change from caring about ourselves and meeting our own needs to the raising of small people. We give up sleep to rock a crying infant. We give up pedicures to pay for diapers and toys. We let go of those dreams that we carried from childhood in order to focus on these little souls’ happiness and safety. We become mothers. It is an earth-shaking, monumental task we take on willingly. It rewards us with kisses, snuggles, hugs and moments of pure beauty. Unspeakable joy. But sometimes, we allow it to rob us of ourselves.

Now, I’m not advocating selling your kids to the highest bidder or locking your children in the closet so you can soak in the bubble bath. Well…no. Really, I’m not. Child Protective Services frowns on that. I’m talking about how to stop putting ourselves last on the To Do list. That walk we need to take gets canceled due to soccer practice. The healthy meal we meant to cook gets postponed because there was dance rehearsal. We skip yoga or let the gym membership go because we need the money for kids’ braces and our busy schedules won’t allow it anyway. We let our health go because we don’t have the time to focus on ourselves for 30 minutes a day. Or we get so tired that we spend the 30 minutes we DO have lying on the couch, catching our breath.

Since beginning this journey, I’ve had to take a long, hard look at how I treat myself. I made a mental list (Yes, mental. I am not so anal that I actually wrote this crap down. Seriously, I don’t have that much free time on my hands!) of all the things I’d done for other people in a day. Made lunches, brushed teeth and hair, checked homework, drove carpool, dropped off at dance, cooked dinner, washed laundry, helped with a project, made appointments, located lost items…and the list went on. Then I tried to remember something I’d done for myself that week. Um…I could hear the crickets chirping. No time had been spent working on my novel-in-progress. There had been no exercise or quiet moments stolen to read a book that did NOT rhyme. I hadn’t even taken the old, chipped polish off my fingernails. And it was left over from Thanksgiving holidays. Not attractive. At all.

I began to consider the fact that I am raising four daughters. These girls see me put myself last and consider myself least important. What kind of message is that sending to them? Don’t they deserve to see a woman who values herself enough to put the time and effort into taking care of her body? A mother who makes time to keep herself healthy? This isn’t about pampering myself, although occasionally that wouldn’t be a bad idea, but more along the lines of providing a model for my girls. Do I want them to grow up and think that mothers do not deserve to treat themselves with as much care as they tend their families? The thought of my precious young women thinking of themselves as inferior curdled my stomach. Yet, that’s the lesson I taught through example.

At that moment, I decided. Yes, I will have to refuse my children on occasion in order to take care of myself. Sometimes, they will have to finish their project and wait for me to get back from my workout to check it. They will, God forbid, have to learn to do their own laundry! And, sorry to tell them, they will have to eat what Mama feels like cooking even when they are certain one taste will absolutely kill them. What I need matters, and the sooner they understand that all of us need to value ourselves enough to take care of ourselves, the better.

So now I’m trying to make a list of treats to use as rewards when I reach weight loss or strength goals (non-food, of course). Number one for me is always some alone time somewhere with a notebook and a pen or a quality book. Taking another look at these nails, I also think a manicure wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Take a few moments this week and see if you’re mistreating yourself, too. Make a promise to yourself to do something strictly for you. Share the importance of this with your family. I guarantee they value you enough to understand. If they don’t? Well, that’s an entirely different lesson you’ll have to teach. I may have a big stick available to aid in the instruction if you need it.


  1. I am so enjoying the blog - I have also felt SO convicted about the exact same thing. I have become hyper-aware of the fact that I am, at this very moment, "letting myself go". And that is the LAST thing I want to do. I don't necessarily want to be Mrs. Texas, or my husband's trophy wife, but I have no desire to wake up when I'm fifty and wish I had spent my wonder years in my thirties better or more fully...So, I told my husband that we would have to make some room in the budget - now I have a gym membership (which I mostly use for yoga class) and I recently bought new bras. Haven't had a new non-nursing bra in over 4 years. And girl...I needed one!
    Thank you both for writing this blog. It is so encouraging and uplifting and funny and real and so many other things that I can't even describe (if only I had the writing talent y'all do, I'd be able to come up with some more adjectives.)
    - Julie L.

  2. Thanks, Julie. I woke up one day and realized I can't even play Just Dance on the Wii with my girls. And I used to be a dancer. I'm way too young to be this damn old, so it's time to do something. I'm so glad you're enjoying our little experiment, and it makes me feel good that you're getting something from it. Yay for new bras! Nothing like a little pick-me-up! :P


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