This scene may sound familiar: My boys are bouncing happily on my bed as they pull opposite ends of one of my many worn out bras. This escalating game of tug of war will likely end with someone sporting a scratched cornea, meanwhile, I’m trying on a fourth pair of socks hoping to find just one without holes in the toes. It is at this moment that I also become aware that the slightly sour scent in the air is coming from me, whether it is left over food spills or breast milk, is undetermined.
I begin to spiral out as I observe that all my underwear are in a similar shape to my socks, and that I’m using makeup samples my mom gave me a few years ago. My hair gets washed on average once a week, and I frequently cry about trying to squeeze into the old clothes that fit my pre-motherhood (18lbs. lighter) body. I haven’t been to a doctor who wasn’t scoping out my uterus in years. And I reluctantly admitted to the dentist a few weeks ago that I had been suffering from mouth pain for well over a year before it became too intense to for an aspirin and a glass of Cabernet to subdue.
Slowly, the sad realization crept over me that I simply don’t take very good care of myself anymore. After four years of Motherhood, I am way past due for a maintenance check.
My own mother wore her badge of self-neglect proudly, often going without so that we had plenty. She wore the same winter coat for a decade and colored her own hair. I was given the floral patterned Doc Martens (remember those?!) I wanted so desperately while her shoes came from Payless. And to my recollection, she never uttered a word of complaint about any of it. As a girl, I remember thinking that Motherhood really just meant becoming a lifetime member of a perk-free club where you sneak in short showers, eat last, and shop the clearance rack. Is it any wonder that I swore off the idea of having kids until thirty when a full blown hormonal meltdown sent me into a raving mad baby fever?
While I am profoundly grateful for my mother’s selflessness, I wonder about her sense of self-worth now that her children are grown.
Fast forward four years and two boys later, I sat down making my list of goals for the new year and found myself thinking about where I prioritize myself. I’m trailing the cat by a hair. It’s unclear who, if anyone, is benefiting from this mantra of ‘mom always comes last.’ There must be some reason we’re told to secure our own oxygen masks first before assisting others. And now that my boys are mercifully at an age where basic survival is pretty well under control, this is the year I take care of me too.
You know who enjoys a plate of warm food? Me. You know who doesn’t give a rip if their eggs are cold, soup is lukewarm, or syrup isn’t piping hot? My kids. This momma is going to try sitting down to a hot plate of food while my boys continue to play blissfully unaware of the perpetual mealtime power struggle that awaits them.
Treat Yo Self
Every pair of socks and underwear with holes in them are going in the trash to be replaced with something cute and comfy. Because let’s face it; ill-fitting tortuous undergarments are for co-eds and newlyweds of which I am neither. The milk-stained bras have served their sacred purpose and can now be sent to pasture in exchange for something lacy and LIFTING! Every stitch of clothing that makes me cry and feel like fasting, is being donated to an appropriate home. My clubbing days are long over, and these hips that birthed two babies aren’t ever going to see a size 2 again. Oh what a miraculous time to be alive now that we have upscale online thrift shops!
There’s NO CRYING in Motherhood!
Because butts and runny noses still need wiping even when mom gets sick, an appointment to see the general practitioner for a wellness check for the first time this decade is in order. I may even work up the courage to ask a professional about my suspicion that after close to two years from giving birth, wetting my pants in Target on a weekly basis is probably not going to get any better on its own. The kegels just aren’t cutting it, and I’m not ready to accept chronic incontinence just yet.
This is the year I read something other than how I’m failing as a parent and new waffle recipes on Pinterest. This year I start using a big girl moisturizer with retinoid because…it’s time. I won’t feel guilty about occasionally using Kung Fu Panda as a babysitter so I can paint my toenails or take a shower before midnight. The girl who used to be the obnoxious know it all at Oscar parties is determined to see at least five movies this year that aren’t animated. A most importantly, I will acknowledge when I need a break and take the necessary steps to get one. There is a girl’s weekend trip that needs to happen.