Getting Real with Kira Hazledine
The day rolls forward like any other. Wake up, diaper changes, snacks, meals, toys, baths, play dates, outdoor activities… the list never ends for a mom. This doesn’t include the dirty bathroom, the piles of laundry, or the kitchen sink full of dishes. You vent to someone about how you’re just a tad bit overwhelmed, and they tell you to take a moment. Do some self-care! Get a massage!
Holy crap. Thank you so much for your insight and easy solution to all my problems that will be solved by a single moment of peace and quiet. *insert eye roll*
Don’t get me wrong, a moment of peace and quiet helps. But it’s only a moment. How do you manage when every second of demands overwhelms that single moment? Sure, for some moms it might be as easy as going for a walk by themselves, but for others, it’s a lot more than needing a bit of self-care.
Even I talk about self-care a lot. I’ve studied psychology and I’m in therapy myself. I am well aware that I need to take care of myself. It’s not rocket science. The issue is how? For mothers with post-partum depression that don’t want to get out of bed, how can you say it’s as simple as getting a coffee? For mothers with anxiety, leaving the house is a battle all by itself. For mothers like me, with PTSD, taking care of yourself is a completely foreign concept.
Taking care of myself used to revolve around taking care of others. If those around me were taken care of, I was safe. If my abusive ex was happy, things were good for me too. Taking care of someone else was literally survival. It may have been an unhealthy pattern before I met my ex, but after four years of that bullshit, it’s now a way of life. It’s a coping mechanism and a safety device. If someone else isn’t happy, I’m no longer safe.
This is why it’s so hard to do something as simple as a shower by myself. My husband would be more than willing to watch our daughter while I shower, but I hesitate to ask. It’s completely unconscious, because I have nothing to fear. My husband is a wonderful man and loving father. I close the door to walk away for a shower (when it does happen) and I hear instant giggling from the both of them. But what if this is inconvenient? What if my husband would rather be doing something else? Although fear is no longer part of the equation, putting myself first feels impossible. It feels selfish. It feels wrong.
I finally was honest with myself, after empty promises to both my husband and my therapist to take time to go for a walk or get some ice cream. When I can’t value myself enough to demand a shower alone, those are too big of tasks. And don’t get me wrong, I love showering with my daughter. It would just be nice sometimes to be alone, right? *cue panic*
So my homework is to take one shower alone this week. Just one. And it’s not about the shower. It’s about learning that I’m important too. And that is one hard lesson to learn, when you’ve been taught for years that you aren’t important at all. I don’t have any real answers for myself or for others. Just know that for the mothers struggling to find themselves between play dates and sticky fingers, I get it. But we will be ok. We’ll get there, one lonely shower at a time. We are important.