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).
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.