5 Reasons to Love Yourself, Mama.
Where are all my tired mamas at? ...ha ha just kidding. I know where you are. Everywhere. Because most of us are often exhausted. Hopefully not all of the time, but raising children is no small undertaking. I get a great deal of satisfaction from the hard work I do for my family and in my career. However, I dislike the feeling of being worn down. So, what are you doing to appreciate and take care of yourself? Yes, you. Not anyone else. What have you done for yourself lately? You deserve love and care. In fact, you deserve it every day. EVERY DAY. You can and should love yourself. Here’s why:
1. You Are Worthy!
You are a human being. You are a mother. You deserve love. You pour out a constant stream of love and care to others. Being worthy of love is not dependent upon perfection. Do you require your kids to be perfect or earn your affection? My guess is, no. The same goes for you. You do not need to be a perfect person or perfect Mama to deserve time to just be you, to have a minute to yourself, or to hide in the pantry and eat a piece of Halloween chocolate that your kids didn’t realize was still there…
I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be all the things all the time. We are our greatest critic. This is an area of my life that is a constant work in progress. I used to criticize myself after forgetting something, losing my patience, not saying yes to one more thing, or a whole other myriad of things I felt I’d failed at or felt guilty about. I felt like I didn’t deserve something because of those mistakes. I have gotten better, though, at stopping that negative narrative and replacing those criticisms with a better mindset and more positive way of thinking about those things. If it’s something I feel I could’ve done better, I decide how I want to approach it next time in the future. If it’s something I drew a boundary for, I remind myself that it’s ok to draw healthy boundaries and to do it without guilt. The things we tell ourselves are powerful! Are you focusing on the great things you do? I try to remind myself of the hard work I’m doing and look for things during the day to feel proud of. I know giving myself grace, being confident in who I am, being proud of the things I do, and being good to myself is not dependent on whether or not I was perfect that day (that ship has definitely sailed). It is tied to the fact that I am human, and human beings need love. Even from themselves.
2. It’s Healthy.
It’s important to take care of yourself. Loving yourself, in part, means self-care. Self-care is not selfish. Your physical and mental health are a priority. You are raising, teaching, growing, changing, juggling, running. Every day. You are not a robot. You are valuable and are preparing another human being (or several) to contribute great things to this world. Self-care is actually an intelligent choice to re-energize, get proper rest, recharge your body, clear your mind, and be ready to take on the next meltdown, last minute errand, sudden illness, or project at work.
What does self-care look like for you? It isn’t one size fits all. Is there something you like to do that helps you feel relaxed or recharged? I feel a definite mental clarity after some sort of exercise. It might be a few minutes of yoga or kettle bells. Lately my husband and I have given rock climbing a go! It’s been a lot of fun and a huge de-stresser. Admittedly, it is sometimes difficult for me to leave my kids, even if it’s to better myself, which impacts them. I miss them and want time with them, but I also know I will be a better me when I return. I can be tired or irritable while pulling on my cute, ruched workout pants (I’ve gotta have some cute motivation), or my climbing harness in my favorite color of Robin’s Egg Blue, but after I’m done I have a completely different attitude, a little more confidence, and usually a big smile on my face. I can think more clearly and, even though it sounds contradictory, I actually feel more energized. I don’t need hours - I just need to get moving or have a little time to myself. Maybe it’s a quick walk in the fresh air or axe throwing in your garage (anybody else?). Sometimes even just being in a room by yourself with your own thoughts and a cup of your favorite beverage is immensely helpful for some (…mmm, coffee…). If you aren’t sure what might help you recharge your batteries, ask some of your friends what they do. Give something new a try! Whatever that might look like for you, take the time! You’ll thank yourself!
3. when we care for ourselves well, we can love others well.
Caring for others in any capacity requires energy, among other things. I read a friend’s post this month about her recent anniversary trip. Her post included the words “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” Being a very visual person, this resonated with me. I couldn’t help but picture my favorite chicken-themed, robin’s egg blue coffee cup with only a sad drop or two of that magical liquid at the bottom, just begging to be refilled! How often do we try to squeeze all we can out of those last two drops, expecting more than is truly there? How often do I let my own cup empty before I am intentional about refilling it? The busyness that we are sometimes swimming in sucks us dry. Some nights, when I realize I need time to recharge and there is still dinner, dishes, bath, bedtime, laundry, prep for the next day, etc., I try to find something that can wait until the next day. Will we survive if I leave dishes in the sink? Yes. Is it ok if the fourth load of laundry waits? Yep. When I neglect self-care, I feel like I’m not my best for my husband, our kids, or my job. I’m impatient, tired, less present, and then I feel guilty about all of those things. When I am more intentional about refilling (and trying to find time for those things I mentioned above), I have energy to offer help and care for others, which in turn fills my cup in a different way. It brings me a great deal of joy to show kindness, bring a meal, have my kids help with a care package for a friend, or just be a listening ear when someone is struggling. I have so much more to give when I am not running on empty…or fumes…or stranded with no gas station in sight.
Caring for myself and others impacts my children beyond my relationship with them. Those little eyes are always watching (maybe one day those little ears will always be listening? Particularly in the morning before school?). I absolutely want to be able to give to them in ways that they need. I also want to model loving others for them. I believe that such an essential part of our purpose is our relationships. Being in the thick of raising small children often makes me feel like I don’t have much left to give. I remind myself that raising my children is, in fact, loving others, but I also desire opportunities to involve them in ways that we can bless other people. Sometimes they come up with ideas on their own, like writing a note of appreciation to someone in our lives, baking a batch of treats and sharing them, or even picking some flowers to brighten someone’s day. When we love others well, we spread kindness, make others feel valued, and feel more joy in our own lives. That’s beautiful!
4. you have something to offer
I remember feeling quite stagnant in my career for a long period of time. One year I reached out to a member of our staff for support in a lesson I was creating. While talking with her about different platforms I could use to make things relevant for my students I became inspired and excited about what I was making. This conversation was one of many that eventually led to me considering applying for a grant, which wasn’t like me at all. I put together my ideas, created my proposal, had someone help me with a design platform, and was ready to enter my idea. After all that, I hemmed and hawed about it for quite some time as I hovered over the ‘submit’ button. Ultimately, the deciding factor to stop hovering over the ‘submit’ button were my friend’s words from our recent conversations about growth and creativity. They repeated in my head, slowly and deliberately - “you have something to offer!” I thought it sounded ridiculous at first. I thought, “I’m just me. I’m not making any big waves around here or doing anything spectacular. Why would I do this?” But the thought persisted. I began to believe it. Little by little. I stopped hovering over that button and clicked it. I made it to the second round of proposals and presented. I didn’t win the grant but received a check for professional development that I was able to use for a national conference. And I kept believing I had something to offer. It gave me the confidence to be bold, take more risks, professionally and personally. I owed it to myself to give myself the vote of confidence. What button are you hovering over today? You owe it to yourself to go for it. You have something to offer. Love yourself enough to take that leap. Click the button!
5. You are impacting the world
A friend of mine, fellow teacher, author, and kindness ambassador Tamara Letter reminds us to “never doubt the impact of your passion and purpose.” Whatever your role in life, you have an opportunity, a voice. You can have an impact in your home, community, town, church, local supermarket, or dollar bin aisle at Target! Never doubt that you are showing up for a reason. You are a priceless addition to the world, creating unique ripples in the lives of others. Embrace and love who you are and then share that! Share what you are passionate about. Share your excitement. Share your hope. Share your survival stories. Share your struggles. Share your laughter. Share your tears. You never know to whom you may give hope, whom you might inspire, or whom you might help heal.
So take care of yourself, Mama. Don’t let stress, anxiety, guilt, or busyness rule your days. Rest in your victories, big or small. Remember that you have purpose each day. Fill your cup, so that you can pour into others’.