Ever since becoming a mother, I’ve heard the phrase, “you can’t pour from an empty cup” more than I ever have in my entire life – In fact, I don’t think I had ever heard it before having kids.
Is this a phrase that is reserved only for parents?
Mom life is exhausting.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I love being a mama and feel so lucky to be able to stay at home with my children, but damn, some days, it is so hard!
I cook, I clean, I play, I entertain, I problem solve, I taxi drive, I wipe tears, I wipe butts, I pay bills, I schedule appointments, I give baths, I do laundry, I grocery shop.
And that’s just what I can think of of the top of my head.
It never ends! Literally!
When Benny is home, its hard enough, but when he is away for weeks at a time?!
Just thinking about it makes me anxious.
When you’re a stay at home parent, you never leave work.
Feeling run down has become a way of life. Instead of planning to get more rest, I’ve invested in a better concealer.
I drink so much coffee that if the opportunity for a nap comes up, I’m too jacked up to lay down.
I haven’t pooped alone in years!
Sometimes, I just want space! I want a few moments to myself, to hear my own thoughts.
I envy my husband when he travels. I know that he misses us so much, but usually, he gets a hotel room where he gets to shower alone and lay down alone – he doesn’t have any one asking him questions. He gets to look at his phone without feeling guilty.
OH! The bliss.
I can only imagine.
I want to shower alone! I want to lay down and know that I won’t be interrupted for 8 hours! I want for one day, no one to ask me anything.
When he is home, I struggle to admit to him that I could use a hand – and this is the time where I should be taking all the help I can get! I should be milking it!!
Unfortunately, for me, asking for help is not something that I do well.
A few weeks back, we had several 100 degree days in a row. We have a great house, but no AC. Toward the end of this heatwave, our house was miserable! The house was barely cooling down to 80 at night.
One morning, after a rough, sweaty night with Mateo, I woke up, extra grumpy.
My daughter, like she always does, ran into my bedroom to rush me out of bed. She wanted to assign me a character for whatever make-believe she was already playing.
Pretend play? Already?! I’ll pass.
She wanted pancakes, she wanted another cup of milk, she wanted to go outside.
“MOM!!! Stop calling me, Nori, I’m Princess Blue!!”
OMFG, girl. What else?!
I wanted to hide under a blanket.
I made myself some coffee and set it on the counter.
I thought that getting dressed might help to pull me together, so I grabbed the baby to bring him along with me. I noticed he was wet, so I went to change him and once he was undressed, he peed ALL OVER ME.
Now I was grumpy, sweaty and covered in urine.
I rolled the sleeves of my robe up until the wet parts were hidden inside of the dry and cleaned Mateo up. I washed my hands and dabbed my belly dry with a cloth.
I felt so gross.
The icing on the cake? Now, my coffee was cold!
Huffing and puffing, I went to change in my bedroom and remembered that my husband was still asleep, as he worked late the night before.
I went to microwave my coffee and sat down to drink it, still in my pee clothes, so that I wouldn’t disturb sleeping beauty.
An hour or so later, when I heard him waking up, I became overcome with rage!
I stormed over to him and blerted out, “IM GOING TO TAKE A SHOWER, NOW! TAKE THE BABY!!”
He looked at me like, “Okay?”
He didn’t know about the pee, or how little I had slept or about my cold coffee on the counter. He didn’t know that I still needed to change. He didn’t know how much I was struggling that morning.
How could he have?
I handed him Mateo, and went to take a shower. Not some BS, rushed shower like I’d become accustomed to taking, but a nice, long shower.
I let the water pour over me. I lathered, I rinsed. I fucking repeated! I stood there and enjoyed the quiet. When I got out, I put in my contacts, put on some makeup and got fully dressed.
Usually, after a shower, I’d put my robe back on and rush out of there with my hair still in a towel.
When I walked out fully dressed, everything was fine. The kids were happy. My husband was happy – he greeted me warmly, with a kiss.
There was absolutely no reason for me not to be meeting my own needs. The household survived while I bathed. I don’t know why I thought that they wouldn’t.
Those 20 minutes alone were fantastic. I should have been doing this all of the time – at least three times a week.
Why wasn’t I just asking for help when I needed it?
It occurred to me that I was the only person in my family who was keeping track of the last time I showered, or how many times I had woken up the night before or microwaved my coffee that morning.
It’s easy to forget about taking care of yourself when everyone else forgets that you need to take care of yourself.
Maybe, it’s not that they were forgetting, but that I’m such a boss ass mama that my family didn’t realize that I was running on empty.
This wasn’t a them issue, it was a me issue.
I needed to pencil in time for myself just like I did for my husband and children. I needed to let go of the assumption that because being a mom was “my job” that I wasn’t allowed to or deserve to take breaks.
Self care, y’all!
Self care doesn’t need to be a spa day. It doesn’t need to be luxurious. Self care is whatever you need to do to care your yourself – even if it’s just advocating for your needs!
No one should ever breakdown crying over a shower.
I’ve put more focus onto my own well being and have become a better mother, a better wife and a happier me. I’ve done this by:
1. Speaking up. Instead of feeling resentment toward my family for things that I feel overwhelmed by, I began to tell my husband and daughter what I needed from them and I found that both of them were more than happy to go along with my requests. If I feel backed up on housework, I’ve learned that I can just tell my husband and more often than not, he will fold our laundry or pick up around the house. If I feel overwhelmed by my daughter wanting to play the moment we wake up, I just tell her that I’m not quite ready to make believe yet and she will give me space until I have woken up more. No one is a mind reader – more often than not, my family didn’t know that I was feeling overwhelmed.
2. Making time for friends. It isn’t always possible for me to get a sitter and hang out with my friends without Nori and Mateo. Luckily for me, a lot of my friends have children or don’t mind when I have mine with me. I try to see my friends at least 2 times a week and call and text my friends regularly. Feeling connected to other adults helps motherhood and family life feel less isolating. I am so grateful for the solid group of friends in my life!
3.Doing something extra. One thing that I always do for myself that makes me happy is have manicured nails. I go every three weeks to have my shellac changed and it is an act of self love that I refuse to sacrifice. Whenever I look at my hands and their pretty polish, I feel happy! Sometimes the kids stay with my husband, sometimes with my mom and sometimes with a sitter – no matter what I need to do to make it happen, I do it. Lately I have been bringing Nori along with me and I love that something that I do for me has become a bonding experience for us. Nourishing my relationship with her by including her in an activity that I love brings me happiness!
4. Indulging. When I am feeling down or worn out, taking myself out for a treat always helps. Okay, so, maybe I am a comfort eater, but whatever! We all have our vices. It could be worse!! My favorite treats are donuts and fro yo. This act of self care is a double whammy, because I can use getting treats as a bargaining chip for good behavior from Nori. Win/win, amirite?!
5. Taking breaks from social media. Nothing like a perfect instagram family to make you feel like shit on a rough day. Sometimes, disconnecting and taking time to be fully present in your own life is all you need to snap out of a funk. The world won’t end if you don’t share every activity you do to your story – I promise!
6. Buying something new. Something as simple as buying yourself a new teeshirt can make a huge difference. I try to make a point to only get myself something when I do this – all too often I’ll buy myself something on clearance and get the kids a whole new wardrobe – that doesn’t feel as good as shopping just for you.
I know it’s easier said than done, but as a stay home mom, you’re the families glue! You’re the most important! You need to take care of yourself just as well as you do your family.
Fill that cup, mama!