When going easy on yourself feels like a radical act of self love and it really shouldn't
Last week, I gave myself a pass.
Yeah, I DID.
Wednesday was rough. One of those days which are thankfully rare but still totally happen. When you're up when it's dark and from the moment you open your eyes you feel it all slowly but surely slide downhill.
When dinner time came, I was so. over. that. shit. I was ill, we were all tired. I started with some notion of cooking some vaguely passable dinner. Then I wondered why I would bother with that cooking from scratch crap when I knew there were two little pizzas in the back of the freezer. Pizza? In front of the TV? Who's gonna call the police on me?
There's a lot of guilt floating around these internets. Up for grabs at any time, across a smorgasboard of outlets. Your kids should be playing outside! Eating some variation of spiralized vegetables! Doing activities you found on Pinterest! Wearing ethically sourced organic clothing! None of this is wrong per se, I don't have to tell you that. My kids do indeed eat vegetables, and I have even done a pinterest activity with them in the last 3 days. I'm not a massive guilt feeler in this sense, I genuinely think that 90% of the time we're doing a bang up job of raising them. But I'm still human. Sometimes I compare and judge and look at our lives as an outsider, trying to see what others might see, trying to see if I'm checking the boxes.
But this is not the only way to be. I could probably go one step further and say that in many cases and scenarios, it's just not a sustainable way to be. There has to be some give. Sometimes, there is a lot of solo parenting. Sometimes, we get ill. Sometimes, we're tired and grumpy and not really ourselves. Sometimes, being a good mother doesn't look like it does on Instagram. On Wednesday night, being a good mother came from giving in to that and giving my self a pass. The good mothering came from screen time cuddles on the sofa with frozen pizza and peas in their bellies and yogurt in their hair and chilling the hell out. Accepting my limit for that day had been reached and there was no more to give.
That's the great thing about being the adult though, no? Some days you get to say fuck it and everyone has to do what you want. Obviously, my kids were pleased as punch. They watched cBeebies and ate pizza and giggled and had a great ol' time. And you know what? So did I!
That collection of anti-instagram/not cooking from scratch/childhood plugged in moments, making us so happy and calm.
What a fucking revelation.
I put the baby to bed and instead of reading to Sach, I handed him my phone. I crawled into bed next to him and we cuddled whilst I watched Kimmy Schmidt he played Scrabble.
Since that night I've read two brilliant bits about self care that really resonated with me. This one by Michelle, who is a nutritionist shared how eating ready made frozen meals allowed her to look after herself whilst undergoing therapy. The idea of good and bad food, of eating a certain way and cooking a certain way..... it takes it's toll and I'm thinking about it more and more. Especially if you're making on average 21 meals a week and it feels hard at times.
The other piece is from Renegade Mothering. Now you're all going to probably yell at me that you've been reading her forver, but whatevs I've just discovered her brilliance so am going to wang on about how on point she is. This post in particular hit me right in the gut.
So I'm trying to continue the self care theme in the everyday. Some days that means giving myself permission to do only what I can/want to do. Allowing myself to not feel guilty about that for as long as I can make it last. And that's it really. The guilt. The internal/external pressure to do all the things. It's not that I've never taken time during her nap to read or watch tv or do something purely for me. The difference is giving myself express permission. Usually that time comes with a caveat - you can do this one thing for yourself, but then you will do 5 other things that need doing to balance it out.
There are many exceptions as I'm still keeping two people alive and fitting in bits of work, but even within that I can make time for myself. It's do-able guys. Sometimes it feels very much not do-able. It has taken me 2 kids and 6.5 years to be even remotely feel comfortable with this idea and practice of not doing all the things. Of giving myself permission. Join me? Let's see if we can make it stick.
Posted by Laura