Hey mama, Congratulations! If you’re reading this, covered in maple syrup and dried on formula during nap time or still damp from the bath time bubbles while the house falls quiet once again, you’ve done it! You have managed to maneuver through another day of the mundane and the unexpected. Your littles are healthy and sleeping soundly and fed and clothed. And I just want to celebrate that for a minute, celebrate you! What you’re doing is special, and important. Because it’s the only thing that only you can do. Only you know how to cut the turkey sandwiches just right and when to call the doctor and when to be patient and gentle even though you want to scream and that this one likes green peppers and this one only likes yellow peppers and if her ketchup touches anything else on the plate, the whole thing is ruined.
If I could, I would show up at your front door with glitter balloons and champagne and a pizza and a pan of brownies. I would bring them in and set them on the coffee table, and we would eat straight out of the box on the floor. But I can’t do that, so I’m going to tell you that what you’re doing, creating human beings, little people with manners and a love for Jesus, it is enough. On the best days and on the worst days, it is enough. When you are wishing the hours between nap time and bed time weren’t so agonizingly slow, and that the days and weeks would stop so that baby smell would last just a little longer, that sticky stinky little boy smell, the squeals of delight. Let it all last just a little longer.
Every tooth fairy dollar and bed time story and every late night check for monsters under the bed, it’s all part of a story you’re weaving into the lives of these little people who you both love and resent in the very same moment and don’t understand how. And mama, the story you’re telling is a beautiful one. It’s the best one, and it doesn’t require Pinterest perfect crafts and endless Instagrammable moments. Your story is told in glimpses and glimmers of God in the moments when time slows to a crawl and all is well. And it’s also told when your head is in your hands on the kitchen floor as the tears of exhaustion and fear and anger and love and guilt are too overwhelming to handle. When the Grace of God and an extra shot of espresso are truly the only things getting you through this day, this month, this year.
I realize there’s a lot of talk about things like “self care” and “self acceptance” and the inspirational quotes written in calligraphy against a picture perfect backdrop maybe make you want to curse a lot or kick someone in the shins. Because a pedicure would be great, but there’s a mortgage to pay and there’s that 24/7 business of mothering. And self acceptance? If only you could click your callused heals together 3 times and understand why God made cellulite and stretch marks. That they make you even more lovable, not less.
Yeah, that all sounds great. But how? Between matching a million pairs of tiny socks and feeding schedules and Target runs for milk and diapers, when? And when it all gets undone, just like the 3 hours it took to strip all the beds and put on fresh sheets that will need done again all too soon, is it even worth it? Or is it as futile as folding a fitted sheet?
I have to tell you, mama. I believe that you are worth the investment of time and money to feel pretty, to feel balanced, to be free of that exhausting comparison game, to feel like a woman and not just mom. You aren’t broken. You don’t need fixed, and you aren’t alone.
So I’m asking you, begging you, not to let taking care of yourself be another thing you feel the need to do perfectly. Somedays it may feel like another thing on an already too long to do list, but I promise you that it’s the most important thing. Not because it makes you a better wife and mother, even though it does. It’s the most important thing because you’re the most important thing. Because you are worth taking care of. You deserve to be cared for and fought for, even if you’re the one doing the caring and the fighting.
If you feel like you don’t even know where to start, try doing the thing you wish your husband would do for you. Buy yourself flowers, make your own bed and put a chocolate on your pillow, bring your coffee back to bed, take a bubble bath, get a sitter for a few hours and do some really audacious like pick up that novel that’s been sitting on your nightstand for the last year and take it to the coffee shop or one of those fancy pedicure chairs. Use those glorious pockets of 5 and 10 minutes to daydream and pray about the plans God has for you. Get a life coach to be your guide as you become the heroine of this story you’re telling with your life, and watch your own beautiful life unfold before you. If you don’t take some kind of step forward, I’m afraid that you will wake up one day, wrinkled and grey and tired and realize you missed some of the best years of your beautiful and messy life in the pursuit of perfection.