I had one of those moments yesterday where I suddenly got slammed around the head with the kind of clarity and understanding that, at least for me, appears rarely. You know when you read something and find yourself nodding and silently mouthing an empathetic ‘YES’? That was me yesterday. It’s the kind of statement that makes so much sense that you wonder why you’ve never allowed it to flit onto your consciousness before. Words that you keep revisiting, hours after you first read them, to continue to bask in the sense that they make.
Wanna know what they were? Before I share, it’s probably important to note where they came from (I promise it’ll be worth getting through these next few paragraphs, they’re that good). In my ‘other life’ outside of blogging and aside from being a mother and ridding the streets of crime, clad in a cape and mask, of an evening, I write for a bunch of websites and magazines. This past week I’ve been working on a feature where I chatted to a clinical psychologist about all things motherhood related. Let me tell you, this woman knew her stuff and I was a little in awe of her wisdom, insight and knowledge about the motherhood experience.
It was when I was looking back over my notes and the quotes that she’d given me that I came across a couple of paragraphs in particular that stuck out. I had asked her about the importance of self care and ‘me’ time as mother, something which can be fleeting at the best of times and non-existent at the worst.
While I’ve experienced first hand the impact that not having time to nourish your child’s mother can have on physical and mental health, it’s still a concept that I sometimes struggle with. ‘How can I nourish myself when i can’t leave the room for more than 5 minutes between the hours of 6am-6pm?’ I may have wailed at my husband on numerous occasions. Forget a nipping out for a mani or pedi, bathing alone has lately become a novelty as my water obsessed son wants in on the action, literally bolting in from all corners of the house at the sound of a running tap.
There’s nothing as uniquely relaxing as sharing a beautifully fragrant bath with two diggers, a plastic boat and a selection of different farm animals who must be supported in the water at all times, lest they start to drown and cause my son to panic and attempt to dive down under the water to rescue them. I get caught up in the idea that ‘me time’ has to be spent solo and, when that’s next to impossible, I’ve been known to get in a bit of a flap. But, and here’s where the clarity came in and whacked me around the head, I kind of forgot that spending time ON myself and creating a happy, contented and rewarding life CAN be possible even when you’re on the clock 24/7 (and continually rescuing a horse, creatively named ‘Neigh’ multiple times of an evening).
“If we are always waiting for daddy to come home, the babysitter to arrive or nap time to do something rewarding or something ‘for us’, we will quickly fall into the trap of living an uninspired and unrewarding life.”
I’m paraphrasing the exact words and have tweaked them slightly but THAT was what knocked the stuffing out of me for a few seconds, yesterday when I read it. I’ve completely fallen into the trap of thinking that I can only nurture myself when my son isn’t involved. It’s a natural way of thinking I suppose. He’s a toddler. He’s noisy and messy and generally not keen on doing stuff that he doesn’t want to do. I consistently and constantly prioritise his needs because I’m his mum and that’s what we do, generally gladly. Somehow along the way though, I lost sight of the fact that ‘I’ can factor into our days as well. Something as small as switching off Playschool’s 45th Anniversary Compilation and switching on a ‘Hamish And Andy’ podcast can make a real difference to my mood. Taking my Kindle in with us to the bath and reading a few pages while we splash around together isn’t ‘bad’ parenting but taking advantage of a relatively ordered and stable period in our day. I’m now on the hunt for other little things that I can add to our day that enrich how we both experience it.