The Washington Post recently published an article about the self-care of parents. “Maintaining the basic day-to-day with no extraordinary circumstances, keeping all those balls in the air, is a really demanding endeavor, and it leaves very little time for moms to be able to have fun, relax, rest and have downtime."
I remember when I got pregnant for the first time, a friend and mother of four said "Every day you need to take an hour out for yourself. I don't care what you do: go for a walk, take a bath, read a magazine, just do it alone." I accepted the advice kindly but didn't truly appreciate it until my son was born. Nothing, and I mean NADA, can prepare you for your first child. I don't care how many books you read, movies you've seen, mothers you know, babies you've been around, until you are in the driver's seat, the road isn't real.
Between nursing, sleep deprivation and moments of shock--"is that really my baby?!"--and dealing with all the fucking paraphernalia, the two minute walk around the corner to K-Mart was like going to Hawaii. No one really talks about how physically bound you ARE to your child, especially if you're nursing. So to get away between feedings and stealing a moment during naps was so freeing.
I am a staunch believer that the mother must take care of herself before everyone else. If I'm not in the best condition--physically, emotionally, spiritually--then I'm not the best mother I can be. It's part of why I work out with such zeal. In kung fu we call it "dong chan," or moving meditation. That time is all about me me me. Now that my kids are teenagers, I have more free time and I cherish it. I love the nights when I can be with friends or a lover or alone, lying on the couch eating Trader Joe's potato chips and watching Netflix.
Of course as a mother I'll do everything for my children and kill someone with my bare hands if he or she threatens my progeny, but short of something extraordinary, I will not sacrifice my well being in the name of maternal martyrdom. I love my children too much not to love myself.