This past weekend, a week into a ten day stint of solo parenting, I left all three kids with my parents while I walked to Wortley Village. I stopped in at the health food store, I made a quick trip to the library, I bought a tea and found a sunny bench in the church garden. And I found myself sipping my too-hot tea, burning my tongue, and reading the first few poems in my book without even really reading them.
Because self-care is still really hard for me. I felt like this time was undeserved. I felt like I had to rush to get back to my parents’ place. Like for sure the kids, Charlotte in particular, were all perishing without me. I was tense, just waiting for my phone to buzz with a message from my mom saying “you’d better come home”.
I had a similar experience a few weeks ago. I went to a yoga class one Sunday evening, leaving all three kids with P and my parents. So one adult per kid. It’s a fair ratio! But through the entire class I just could not relax. I could not still my thoughts; instead, I spent the entire time picturing Charlotte screaming, tear stained face. I rushed out of the class when it was over, raced home and burst through the door to hear…nothing. No crying baby, no freaking out toddler. Maybe a little laughter, the sound of the t.v. Of course everyone was fine without me.
So back to the church garden, and that sunny bench with my tea and book of poems. I stopped myself. I took a few slow, deep breaths. I closed my eyes, felt the warmth of the day. And reminded myself that everyone would be okay without me for awhile. In fact, they would be better without me.
We all know that in order to keep at the hard work of pouring ourselves into these little people day after day, we have to stop and fill ourselves up, too. No one seems to talk much about how hard it is, though. How making time for self-care often feels illicit. It is so difficult to just shut down that part of our brain that is constantly thinking about the next diaper change, the next snack time, the next melt-down, and just sink into the moment and take care of ourselves.
I’m going to keep at it, though. I might continue the practice of checking in with myself, taking a few grounding breaths before I do whatever it is I’m doing. What about you? Do you struggle with self-care? Are you getting better at it? Or do you find yourself, like me, rushing through it so you can check that off your list, too?