I used to run myself ragged trying to do everything by myself. Running on empty and in a chronic state of overwhelm. I didn’t know how to ask for help. I believed it was not only my job to care for my children exclusively but my duty. No one could do it like me. My home was organized, and nothing was ever out of place. I cooked, cleaned, and cared for everyone. Everyone except myself. I remember Sunday mornings, I would get up early and get the family ready for church. I would make sure everyone was showered and shined. The family was polished and primed. I, on the other hand, was a mess. I went to church without taking a shower or putting on make-up, and nine times out of ten, I had spit-up or food somewhere on my clothing. I was run-down and resentful.
This Sunday, I am by a pool at the Red Rock Resort spa. I am alone with my thoughts. I am surrounded by the sound of relaxing music, water flowing, and birds singing in beautiful harmony. It took me many years, but I have learned the value of taking time for myself. The opportunities I take to do things that bring me joy make me a better caregiver, wife, and mother. They fill my cup and my heart with gratitude.
I traveled to Vegas for the weekend to spend time with three women who have been with me on my self-love journey for the last two years. We met in an online accountability group. All of us training for a run in Nashville in May of 2020. Well, you probably predicted how that went. The run never happened, but the friendship we built carried us through the last two tumultuous years. Having the four of us in one place, in person, for an extended period of time has been magical. We have shared laughter, tears, and maybe bickered once or twice like old friends do. It has been a pleasure to explore the city with them. The icing on the cake was the only person I had to take care of was me. I have enjoyed a reprieve from changing diapers. Preparing food. Listening to Emily’s music. Watching her shows (The Wiggles, duh). Getting a break from providing care for Emily on self-care Sunday. This weekend, self-care Sunday is about me.
Today I am indulging in a long overdue massage. I am enjoying all the amenities the spa has to offer. I will drink what I want and eat what I want. I can write without the sounds of Casa de Chaos in the background. What an incredible gift for me. Letting go and releasing control is freeing. Taking time for myself makes me better. I know this. I probably knew it years ago, but I never asked for help. I never gave myself permission to do things that were important and exciting to me.
My boys are at home caring for Emily, Coco, Ben, the chickens, and hopefully, they are throwing the fish some flake. They are definitely doing things differently than me. I am sure Emily is not happy that Dad does not blast Lizzo or Kendrick Lamar while she bathes. I bet she misses the songs I make up as I dance around the house being silly. Dad has his own way of caring for Emily. And she probably loves that Dad will sit on the floor with her and protect her from Ben stealing her toys. Todd will play ball with Emily and feed her food that I do not give her. Todd will take her outside and let her watch The Wiggles in his garage as he tinkers on something or another. Justin will watch YouTube in the living room and keep her company. He will take her on a Starbucks run. Dad will not subject her to nail trimming and other “torturous” acts of self-care that mom puts her through, and Emily is definitely glad about that.
I have relished this time to connect with girlfriends while Emily is in the care of her dad and brother. I don’t feel guilty about choosing to do something for myself. It has been a wonderful gift. My wish is that every caregiver gives themselves permission to relax. Find a way to create space just for them without guilt or fear. Seize the opportunity to receive respite. It will help rejuvenate the mind, body, and soul.
Note: One of the women I met in person for the first time, Tomie Skramstad, is an amazing photographer. I wanted to include every photo she took. I am blessed to have incredible, talented, smart, and amazing women that I admire and love to learn from.