It was late Saturday afternoon. My son had been invited to a birthday party so I threw on a t-shirt, put my hair in a ponytail, and packed up the kids. I don’t need to waste time getting ready, I told myself. I’m fine just the way I am. I attributed my ability to head out to a public social gathering completely unkempt to be a testimony of my confidence. I didn’t need others’ approval. I wasn’t that shallow.
We arrived, and I immediately noticed that nearly all of the other moms looked more put-together than I would have been even if I was going out for a special night on the town. But I still didn’t care. It didn’t bother me.
Until the end of the evening, when I caught my reflection in the mirror of the ladies’ room.
I saw myself for who I really was – not a woman of confidence but one who was tired, worn out, stressed out, and exhausted. I saw the extra pounds that had crept on in recent weeks and the stress acne on my face that rivaled the epic outbreaks of my 15-year-old self. I saw my wrinkled shirt, my exercise pants, and comfy sneakers. I saw the hair falling out my crooked ponytail. I saw a woman who hadn’t bothered to shower in four days, and who went out in public anyway.
And I suddenly thought to myself when did I stop even trying?
To be honest, this isn’t the first time I’ve had to learn this lesson. I learn it at least once a year; sometimes every six months. And I run out, get my hair done, or do my nails, or buy an outfit that makes me feel good, or get a new book to read, or pick up a hobby, or spend some time out with girlfriends.
Once I went away overnight for my own personal mama retreat. Last November I was at my wit’s end, falling apart over who-knows-what, and my husband gently suggested that he take the kids for the weekend and I get away and take some time for myself. I sat in my room and prayed and read and ordered take-out and listened to Audrey Assad’s Restless over and over; it has become the cry of my soul in those moments of motherhood that seem more than I can bear.
Speak now, for my soul is listening…I’m restless…’til I rest in you, oh God.
My mind was so jumbled that my own words seemed inadequate; instead I used that song as a constant, pleading prayer until my soul regained its peace.
I came back refreshed, and I swore up and down that I would remember to take care of myself. I told my friends how important it is to do things for yourself, and how a good mom is a happy mom. I probably even blogged about it.
And then I began the slow slide downhill, until I once again reached a point where I could barely even recognize myself on a Saturday night in the bathroom mirror at a five-year-old’s birthday party.
I’m learning the hard way (in my heart, not just in my head) that self-care is not a luxury. It is a necessity. But I’m sure the lesson has not been learned for good. I’ll need another reminder in a few months that I can’t do it all and be it all to everyone while still keeping myself together for my family.
I need to remember to prioritize myself once in awhile, and so do you. So if it’s a lesson you need to re-learn, here is your reminder.
Find something that refreshes your mama-soul. Maybe it’s half an hour with a good book, or maybe it’s a weekend in the mountains. You don’t have to wait until you hit the bottom – that’s a painful landing. Even though I’m still re-learning this lesson over and over, every time I hear Restless on the radio it breathes a little whisper of new life into my soul and reminds me that I need to be filled in order to effectively fill others.
We all just need to find a way for our souls to rest. And I think most mamas would agree, resting is one of the most difficult things to find time to do.
What gives rest to your mama-soul? Is self-care a lesson you’ve had to re-learn? Is there a song that speaks to your heart in those difficult motherhood moments?
You can find Kristina blogging on allmomdoes on Tuesdays. To read more of her blogs, click here!