January 1st is a day notoriously filled with optimism. People everywhere are waking up with declarations to be better versions of themselves, myself included. One of the ways I do this is by making a vision board, which is basically a collage of images and words that reflect my personal goals. I like to think of it as my visual plan for the upcoming year, but this time around I just couldn't get into it. I had the board, optimistic clippings, and self-sticking tape. I was all set and ready to go. Then something hit me, the reason I couldn't get into it was because these things represented what I wanted, not what I needed. Let me explain.
A long time ago I had made it up in my mind that I needed to be some sort of "super mom" who juggled work and family while making Pinterest worthy meals every night with not a hair out of place. Needless to say this was exhausting to keep up. This "super mom" ideal was taking a toll on my spirit, but I didn't know it yet. I was sluggish, irritable, and emotional. I thought I was just tired from trying to juggle all the balls in my life. But I was dropping the most important ball of all, the one that belonged to me.
Somewhere along the line I forgot about caring for myself. It's almost like I traded love of self for the love of my daughter, and I was miserable. You read so many things that tell you that parenting is all about being selfless, but at what cost? I had become the haggard tired mother that I always joked about and I only had myself to blame. My toddler never asked me to focus only on her, the only things she asks me for is cupcakes and to buy her more songs on iTunes.
The one question I get asked the most is "What's it like being a parent?" Let's see... it's like you're sleeping and someone splashes ice cold water on you. It's a jarring splash of reality, a rebirth in a sense. You are instantly aware of everything, and the love you have for this teeny tiny human being is enormous. So enormous that you may inadvertently put yourself "on hold" so to speak, to become the type of parent you think they need. You know the kind of parent they need? One who not only loves them unconditionally, but also loves themselves the same way. I was completely immersed in every aspect of motherhood and don't get me wrong, it was beautifully bright, but this new-found role came with a roller coaster of emotions.
I was blessed but I was also stressed, and as the popular quote says the two cannot coexist. Then it came to me, in order to be a good mom, a good wife, a good friend, I had to take care of myself first. So I stopped complaining about not having any time and I made time: to meditate, to read a book, to basically do whatever the hell I wanted and you know what? It felt good.
We hear the term "Self-Care" so often, but how many of us are really taking care of ourselves the way that we should? It's so easy to get caught up; I've got a stack of unread magazines that prove this point wholeheartedly, but I find that even taking a little time, ten minutes even, makes a big difference in my overall wellness.
Being a parent is the most AMAZING thing that has ever happened to me, it's also a tough ass job that requires me to be the best version of myself, to love myself first. So when I revisited my vision board I included only one word: Love. Because when you love yourself, everything else just falls into place.