Category: parenthood

Self Care for Moms

I woke up this morning thinking about self-care, and how different that looks now than at any point in my adult life.

For one thing, I now know and use the phrase self-care and I don’t even feel too awkward or embarrassed about it. Well. I still feel a little awkward, to be honest. Taking care of my self has not always been easy for me.

Briefly: when I was in college, many of these things came very naturally. Part of that can be attributed to the environment I was in (I was surrounded by friends, literally living with my best friend, and living in the middle of a place where I felt valued and respected. My academic career, my campus jobs and volunteer opportunities, and my sorority all packed those years chock-full of caring for myself – but back then, I didn’t even realize that’s what was happening.

Which meant that as adulting hit break-neck speed (we got married, Chris started chemo, I started my first job, we moved, he started medical school, we had miscarriages and then eventually a baby and another and another), I didn’t realize some of the things I needed to do to nurture my self.

Eventually, I started to realize I needed care because I was starting to crack. And over the years, I have figured out a lot of ways to take care of myself – and over the years, I’ve been all over the board in terms of how much time, money, and energy I’ve had to devote to self-care.

I thought that it might be helpful to share some of what has worked for me, in case you:

  • are pretty gosh-darn broke
  • are a  single mom or a “work widow”
  • are knee-deep in the baby stage with a little one who can’t be left for long
  • are up to your eyeballs with multiple kids at multiple ages
  • finally have a little bit of fun-money to spend
  • just got out of the baby stage and have a few minutes to yourself now and then

…because I’ve been at ALL those places. Each of those circumstances have their own challenges, but self-care can still happen.

**********

What does self-care mean, exactly?

Self-care is anything you do that feeds your spirit. It recharges your batteries and connects you to who you really are. It may involve caring for your physical body, your mental health, your emotional state, or your spirituality.

I think I get it. But I need examples! 

Okay, good. That’s what this post was supposed to be about, anyway! Here we go. A quick guide to the notations:
$ (when you’re super broke)
$$ (when you have a little cash)
$$$ (when money’s no object)
SW – single mom or work-widow mom
NB – newborn nearby
MK – multiple kids
FT – finally have a little free time

 

Coffee/Tea
$ – A quick cuppa can be crazy-cheap if you do it at home. It’s

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But it might not be “The Talk” you’re thinking.

“When we drive to At-a-lanta on Saturday, are we going to see that police again? Remembah last time we went to Georgia we see’d a police?”

“Well, we will probably see at least one police car because it’s a long drive. But it probably won’t be the same police officer we saw last time.”

“Yeah, but when we see’d the police the last time I was SO scared and I thought, ‘Oh no, oh no, are we gonna go to jail?’

“You don’t have to be scared, baby. I will drive us safely and follow the rules. We won’t go to jail. You know, it’s the job of police officers to help keep everyone safe.”

“But dey don’t!”

“What do you mean they don’t?” (Now, I was thinking, I know of several instances where police officers have failed at their sworn duty to keep everyone safe, but I didn’t think she did.)

“Remembah when that girl, that poor girl was so sad, and she had long hair and that police was hurting her on the ground? And she was cryin for her mama. She wasn’t keeping safe.”

*****

And so my heart broke a little. But, at the same time, there was a glimmer of rightness in having this conversation with my baby. Because she was watching and she was listening that day the McKinney, Texas pool party video went viral. She heard that young girl’s cries, and my outrage and my sadness about the whole incident.

See, I believe that white moms need to have The Talk –not the birds & the bees talk, the police talk– with their white children, too. For far too long, black and brown parents have had the conversation with their children while, in ignorance and bliss, white parents sat in privilege and just… never even thought about it. But that has to end. It ends for Mike Brown. It ends for Tamir Rice. It ends for Sandra Bland. It ends for John Crawford.

Here’s the really important thing, though. If you’re one of my white friends, and you’re reading this and thinking about this subject, please don’t just listen to me. You need to listen to Black voices. It’s not my place to speak for the people who are really on the recieving end of the trauma and terror of police violence. You need to tune in and listen: listen online, via Facebook and Twitter and great blogs and websites, listen in person. And then you need to have this conversation with your kids, too.

*****

So Abi and I talked a little more, in the car on our way home, about how most police officers are wonderful, conscientious, courageous men and women. It’s always important to be respectful and polite when we speak to them. But sometimes, even police officers make mistakes or even do things out of anger. Sometimes, like in the video she remembered, one might even hurt someone just because of what they look like.

I admit, I felt really inadequate to the

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I overhear some cute conversations. Tonight, S helped A fall asleep. (I have NO idea why this worked, but apparently it did.)

Abigail: [sad string of baby babbling]
Susannah: Abi?
Abigail: Yeh?
Susannah: I can’t get you out.
Abigail: Yeh.
……..silence……..

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Susannah has a new and consuming obsession with volcanoes. Viewing videos and photos and reading about volcanoes hasn’t satisfied her curiosity.We have the following conversation at least once a day. 

“Mommy, what’s a bolcano?”
“A volcano… is a mountain with an opening where lava, steam, and ashes come out when it erupts.”
“Mommy, what’s hop laba?”
“Hot lava is melted rocks.”
“Mommy, why does a bolcano interrupt?”
“A volcano erupts when the pressure inside it gets high and the lava needs to pour out.”
“Okay.”

“Hey mommy? What’s a bolcano?”

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This morning, Susannah wanted to call Granddaddy. “Hey, Granddaddy! You wanna do a video chat?” Of course, he said yes, and we got the laptops fired up for a nice, pajama’ed, messy-haired chat session. Susannah was her silly self, making up words and enjoying watching herself on the picture-in-picture box. Jonas was not himself at all. He barely talked to Dad, and kept acting out aggressively (growling at the screen when Granddaddy asked him a question, antagonizing Susannah while she was trying to talk). After we hung up, Jonas was slouched on the sofa, curled into a grumpy lump, with his back toward the room.

“Jonas, are you upset? Because you seem really grumpy.”

“Yes. I’m grumpy. I’m angry.”

“Are you angry at Granddaddy?”

“Yes.” His eyes glistened with little-boy-trying-not-to-cry-tears.

And I knew. I knew the conversation we were going to have today. I’d sensed it coming, even before Mom died. When things got bad around Thanksgiving, and I tried to explain brain tumors and cancer in spinal fluid to an almost 6 year old, I knew that soon I was going to have a very angry young man on my hands.

I sank onto the couch beside him. I lowered my face so that our foreheads touched. And as carefully as I could, I told him, “You don’t need to be angry at Granddaddy. I bet seeing him and talking to him makes you think about Grandmama, and that makes you sad and angry. Is that right?”

He nodded.

“But, baby, it is not Granddaddy’s fault that Grandmama died.

Jonas sat upright. His cheeks flushed, and he blurted out, “I know! I know it’s not his fault! IT’S GOD’S FAULT THAT SHE DIED. And when I get up there, I am going to BREAK HIM.”

And then the tears did come – hot, angry tears. Maybe tears of shame at finally confessing this anger, this wish to see God face-to-face and break Him into pieces as punishment for taking away Grandmama. And my tears came, too. Mine were tears of sadness of missing my mom, sadness for my son’s hurting heart, and tears of desperation for how to explain this big, big situation to a little boy.

So I grabbed him and I held him and I told him I understand. We turned on a show for Susannah to watch and we went to sit on the stairs, so we could talk in private.

I did my best.

When I asked Jonas how he feels, he said, “ANGRY.”

“I know, but how does the anger make your body feel? Does it make your tummy hurt?”

“Yes.” He looked relieved, maybe to know that the knot in his belly was related to the anger bubbling in his chest. “My tummy hurts. And I feel… I just feel…. all half.”

“Half.” I thought about that for a second. “You feel like half is missing? Do you mean, you feel like something is missing inside here?” I touched his

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Meet the author

MICHELLE NEBEL

I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!

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