On the Importance of Self-Love

Today’s my 28th birthday. And, as I kick off the day (and approach this year), I’m making a concerted effort not only to practice gratitude and positivity but also to practice a lot of self-love.

Honestly, I’ve always been that kind of person who puts other people and their needs first. You can ask my husband. Or my parents. I tend to give and give, without expecting anything in return.

Not that generosity is a bad thing. Or that I expect to become someone who gives only conditionally. But I do recognize that taking care of others is fruitless if you’re not taking care of yourself: you can’t love fully if you’re not full yourself (I’ve unpacked this a lot during therapy so I won’t go into it a lot here…).

Motherhood amplified my tendencies for extreme selflessness. Which makes sense, given that this little person’s well-being is entirely dependent on me. Of course, it’s a lot of responsibility, but it also provides a lot of opportunities to really stop thinking about myself, in even the most minute ways.

For example, I remember going days and days without washing my hair the first few weeks after Tadashi* came home from the hospital. It wasn’t even because I couldn’t: Reggie was always with him, or my parents were often there as an extra set of hands. But I just couldn’t muster up the nerve to just take a few minutes to wash my hair; I needed to get in and out of the shower as quickly as possible, just in case Tadashi needed something.

Another example: I realize I go to the mall a lot now, just as a way to get out of the apartment and stretch my legs. While I’m never really going because I need something, I’ve realized that I never really look for anything for myself anymore. I go straight for the baby clothes (which may be because baby clothes are so much cuter than adult clothes, but I’m sure you get where I’m going with this).

Treating ourselves: family outing to the Museum of Ice Cream. Tadashi* was not impressed with the mirror box.

These examples are small and silly. But I feel like they magnify a very strong truth: being a mother makes it so easy to stop thinking of myself. And I’m not saying that I wish I could be more selfish, but I’m saying that it’s important to still take care of myself and my physical, mental, and emotional well-being. And sometimes I lose sight of that. So I need to make sure I do better.

Now, I savor my showers. I treat myself to manicures and pedicures every once in a while. I’m journaling and sharing my experiences on this blog (with extreme difficulty and irregularity, but I’m doing it nonetheless). I haven’t yet figured out a regular workout schedule, but I will. These are all part of my plan to practice more self-care. To treat myself every once in a while because it’s important.

And I’m hoping that I can do that better in my 28th year. It’ll be a struggle in time management and prioritization, sure, but I’ll do my best to make it happen. That’s my little birthday gift to myself.

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