We’ve all seen going around social media, or maybe even have heard a friend or loved one say:
“Self-care isn’t selfish.”
While that may be the case. We really do need to take care of ourselves in order to be the best person we can be for our partners, children, other family members and friends – that whole, you can’t pour from an empty cup thing…
But, I know I’m not alone in this, there are more times than not where self-care feels selfish to ourselves – and we feel the guilt of it.
The struggle is real.
Every time I finally take a rare moment to do something by myself, something without my son in tow, the end result is always a more frazzled, crunched for time me. A higher anxiety me. A thinner patienced me. A me that wants to take that dirty laundry I’m trying to do, pile it in the yard and light it on fire.
Monday, I went outside while my son napped to get in a quick workout. Half-hour, tops. After he woke and wanted me inside with him, I was almost done. Expecting to see that clock read somewhere well before 5:30 p.m. when I got inside, I was absolutely shocked to see it read 5:56 p.m.
Dinner needed to be cooked. My weights needed to be put away. My son needed a bath. Our things for the following day needed to be sorted. My stuff for work, his for school. And I try, desperately, to keep bed time at no later than 8 p.m. for him.
I struggled to keep my head level as I quickly paced through everything. Then, as he lay in his little bed, falling asleep, the guilt set in.
If I hadn’t have worked out, or maybe if I had pushed myself to go quicker through it, I’d have had everything done earlier. Everything would have been done with enough wind down time for me to spend with my family – instead of doing 500 things in just a few short hours.
Yesterday, I had both office and field work, and an appointment to get an alignment for my truck. I was feeling run down and unwell from a cold, so I knew right off that I wasn’t going to work out, so the time that that consumes was off the table.
Everything got thrown a little off kilter when my truck took a little longer than planned, and I got to the game coverage late. So I had to stay later. I still managed to get dinner done and on the table at a reasonable time.
But everything shifted when I took a 20 minute bath to steam my head from the cold. I had laundry going, but a pair of pants needed to be handwashed separately. Which, thankfully I did, because they bled terribly. Then, thankfully again, I put them in the dryer alone to dry them some before the rest of my clothes were done. Thankfully I did that too – because they stained the inside tub of the dryer.
All while this is going on, the minutes are ticking by faster and faster. I still need to get us ready for the following day. I still need to get my son into bed.
My anxiety is ratcheting up. The guilt right along with it. Two days in a row now, rush, rush rush.
Two days in a row now of “I shouldn’t have done that.”
After I got the dryer tub cleaned, I started sorting through things that can be dried and things that needed to be hung (because it seems like almost 90% of the shirts out there today can’t be dried in the dryer, thanks a lot clothing industry, making it harder to do laundry than it already is). Then I stopped. It was almost 9 p.m. Well past my son’s bed time.
As much as it killed my anxiety to leave the work in progress known as the laundry behind, I had to.
Then after he fell asleep, back downstairs I went to finish my tasks, and finally make it to bed myself.
Only to lay there, filled with guilt that again, we had to rush through the night. No time to relax or unwind.
I know when he gets older, he’ll understand. Everyone can tell me that countless times. I know. But it still doesn’t change the guilt. It still doesn’t create a sense of regret. It still doesn’t change the hurt.
This little guy and I, from the start, have been a team. He’ll play, I’ll workout, and in-between my sets, I’ll play with him. Or now that he’s older, as I’m pumping through those sets, we’ll talk about his friends at school, lunch time, playing on the playground. Sometimes, he’ll want to go down our road to the playground there, and I’ll take it as an opportunity to get a run in, then we’ll play together on the slides and swings.
This is the dance of our life that we’re accustomed to.
But, there are just times when I need a few minutes to myself. A few minutes where I can just shut myself off.
Work on that self-care stuff everyone says we all need to do.
Yet, every time I do, there it is, in big neon, strobing lights overhead: Shouldn’t have done that.
“No matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.” – Maya Angelou