Self Care > Sacrifice: A new paradigm for motherhood
Today in my therapy groups we talked about core beliefs- the agreements you make, often without even realizing it, that dictate the decisions you make and how you behave. It turned out to be an enlightening discussion for all involved, where we laughed at some of our most absurd beliefs, and collectively shuddered at more detrimental ones. Later on this evening as I was putting my daughter down to bed, about two weeks worth of group topics synthesized in my mind and I realized: I'm sick and tired of the outdated notion that parenthood- motherhood in particular, must be about sacrifice. I, for one, don't always want to bend over backwards and spread myself paper thin to feel like a good parent.
Here me out- I'm not saying that sacrifice isn't a part of it, because more than likely you are going to make a boatload of sacrifices, starting during pregancy and ending- probably never. But this is true of any relationship. At some point you are going to watch a movie with a good friend that you couldn't care less about, and you are going to listen to your spouse go on about a hobby you have no interest in, because the understanding is that you love and support each other.
But what about loving yourself? What about supporting yourself...being there for (are you starting to catch on?) YOURSELF. You can choose to make motherhood about anything that you want. You make intentions each day, whether you are mindful of it, or not. When you wake up and think "(fill in the blank)", you set the tone for the day. When we choose to accept the cultural stories we have been told- you can't have everything, motherhood is about sacrifice, your kids become your entire life, you must spend every waking moment with your child to be a good parent- the stories heavily impact our expectations, and our actions.
Instead you can choose to set an intention to let motherhood be the ultimate lesson in self care. You can chose to no longer accept the cultural norm that we as mothers must always put ourselves on the back burners. You don't have to go it alone, it's okay to hire the postpartum doula, or take the laundry to the fluff and fold, or a friend or family member to watch the kids so you can have the luxury of showering in peace. The world doesn't end if you take care of your needs, in fact you'll find that it keeps spinning whether you are burned out, fulfilled, or otherwise. I urge you to make yourself a priority as often as possible because it will help you be a happier individual, a more balanced mother, and because your children will learn how to treat themselves by the way they see you treat yourself.