I walked into the spa last week to get a long overdue facial (long overdue in the sense that I’m 37 and have never had one before). The aesthetician asked me to lie on the table under a bright light to take a closer look.
“We’ll definitely need to work on the dark circles under your eyes—are they naturally this dark or have you had trouble sleeping?”
Well I haven’t had REM sleep since 2014, so . . .
“And wow, your skin appears dehydrated . . . are you drinking enough water?”
I felt a wave of shame wash over me for not taking better care of myself. I wasn’t trying to be snarky with her, I’m just tired of everyone telling me I look tired. I want to say “I probably look tired because I AM—I’m a teacher and a mom”.
I had answered a million questions about my lifestyle on the form I filled out beforehand: questions about how much sun exposure I get and how much sugar I eat. Maybe there should be a question about how many kids you have or how old they are. Toddler at home . . . check. No need for further questions, you can assume I don’t have time for regular facials or a stellar nighttime skin regimen.
It’s not that I’m neglecting myself because I’ve stopped caring or don’t understand the importance of doing so—I do value myself.
I know I’m a better mom and have more to give when I put myself first.
I know I feel better when I drink green smoothies for breakfast instead of running through the drive-thru.
I know I feel better when I exercise.
I know meditating is a better option than the mid-afternoon second round of coffee.
I know eight hours of sleep is ideal.
I know, I know, I know, I know.
It just seems life is spinning so fast, it’s hard to catch a minute, let alone 20. Or that every time I try to (fill in the blank) . . . there’s an interruption.
I dip a toe in the hot bathwater . . . “MOM!”
I get up extra extra ungodly early to catch up on writing. I take the first glorious sip of coffee . . . “MOM!”
I finally lay my head down to crash after a long bedtime battle . . . “MOM!”
But each and every time he calls, I will continue to come running. Because nothing I do in this life holds a candle to him. I’d give my own life up for him, and that’s what I’m doing now, in little bits and pieces, here and there every day. And I will continue to stop what I’m doing and come running because it won’t be this way forever—there are seasons in life and this, my friends, is the season of tired. The season of the extra 10 pounds I always need to lose. The season of only being able to give 80 percent at work when I want to give 100 percent. But this season will also pass, as seasons do.
I know there will also come a season when I have the time to take better care of me. And, as frustrating as it is now to give some of those things up, I know it will also be the season of missing that little voice calling for me . . . needing me. I’ll feel more rested and might look a little better, but I know my heart will long for that voice calling “Mommy”.
I’m not condoning just throwing in the towel on ourselves; I’m just done being hard on myself and having unrealistic expectations about it—EVERYTHING can’t be your number one priority at the same time.
I want to be a great teacher, but I probably won’t get teacher of the year in this season.
I want to be healthy, but I probably won’t stick to a 100 percent clean diet in this season.
I want to be a good wife, but I’m not exactly fulfilling his every fantasy in this season.
Seasons for being the best at these things have been around before and they’ll come around again. Right now I’m at peace with forsaking excellence at everything else so I can nail it at momming in this small window of time when I need to most.
I’m still going to fight the good fight—I pack myself healthy lunches, I wear make-up and take my hair out of a clip most (OK, some) days. I write in little pockets of stolen time and, even though it probably does little good in the long run, I still exercise a couple times a week just for my own sanity. I’m under no illusions that “here and there” is how you get results at any of it. But here and there is better than not at all, I figure.
What I am giving up, though, is the shame that I can’t sustain it daily and kick butt at all of it, whether in front of the aesthetician or in front of myself in the mirror, because my reason is NOT laziness or lack of drive. It’s a conscious choice to be the there fully—whenever needed—for my boy, in this short season of tired.