“Self-care, in my opinion, is not just about physical care and beautifying self, it is about an overall well-being, polishing emotional intelligence and practicing self-awareness and empathy together,” writes Riti Prasad.
My mom is an author and works for a Fragrance company. She brings us Nutella jars when she goes to Singapore on tour. She has an iPhone and drives an SUV in which she drops us to school on most days. (They mean except when I am traveling and not that I miss school drop on some days). We go shopping with only her. She helps us in our studies.
This, in a nutshell, summarises me in the eyes of my twin boys. I want to be offended but I cannot because it is not too far from the truth. If the children could have written this essay 8 years back, it would perhaps go as follows:
My mom works for a Fragrance company. She cooks for us every day and bakes a cake every weekend. We do not study at home because our mom comes home late from work.
When I look back to those days, I realize that I wanted to do this motherhood jig all by myself. Of course, the good parents in law and the indulgent parents supported me with all their might by taking over when I needed them. However, I had underestimated the effects of mommy guilt that struck just when I began to think about getting back to work.
I had underestimated the effects of mommy guilt that struck just when I began to think about getting back to work.
Mommy blogs had happened a decade ago and like other enthusiastic moms, I had joined the bandwagon. We exchanged our philosophies of parenting and shared stories of our journey and it did not take us long to become one community of soul sisters. Shaping our parenting philosophies by way of exchange of views over time, we began to form cliques like those who supported working moms and those who did not. I recall being a fence sitter. Despite being a working mom, I often wondered if it was right to be away from my children for the major part of the day. I compensated by cooking their meals, avoiding work-related travel, giving up on books, exercise and friends. I believed that virtual friends were enough and more to sustain me and did not realize that I had morphed into a mom. I was no longer a person. I was no longer known as the one who likes to gossip or is found with her nose inside a book at any given time. I had given up all definitions of me and my days were focused on making it up to the children.
I had given up all definitions of me and my days were focused on making it up to the children.
It took the ubiquitous 40 things to do before I turn 40 lists to make me sit up and think. I sat down and created my own list. When I was done, I wondered whether I would ever tick them off. Like a true Indian mother, my list had things to do for the benefit of the family but it also included steps to re-discovery of self. I felt an inner need to do things just for myself, in other words- self-care. I had put activities in the list, which were essential parts of my being, yet I had stopped doing them when motherhood happened. I had stopped reading or dreaming about writing a book, I had stopped travelling, which was one of the activities I looked forward to after marriage, my home was in shambles, my health suffered and I was no longer growing in my job. Mommy guilt ensured I spent every waking moment with my children.
Making Time for Self- The first step to self-care
My first task on the path to self-care was to find myself more time. I did away with the task, which I was worst at- I hired a cook. It freed my evening and mornings, and I devoted that time to exercising like a maniac; ignoring clamoring children and neighbours bearing juicy gossip until I finished my walks. Exercising gave me more energy than I had in the last few years and all of a sudden, I had the time and energy to accommodate more in my day.
Creative Ways of Stretching the Minute
I learnt to appreciate quality time with the children and the idea of being in their line of vision while they did their free play; the secret tool, which helped our moms maintain their sanity that which most modern mothers shy away from. I learnt that a few ‘me time’ holidays from work were the best ways to rejuvenate self from the daily grind and while counter-intuitive, it may sound but sometimes traveling for work became the greatest relaxant. We included holidays in our calendars for the first time after children. I made time for friends and long, girly lunches and movies. I reconnected with school friends and took the effort to meet them during my travels. The husband and I managed to take a work trip to Paris sans kids without feeling guilty, well, perhaps a little but it passed when we stood looking at the twinkling midnight lights of Eiffel Tower against the dark sky.
I learnt that a few ‘me time’ holidays from work were the best ways to rejuvenate self from the daily grind and while counter-intuitive, it may sound but sometimes traveling for work became the greatest relaxant.
Reigniting the Passions that made me Truly Happy
I began to write, this time with a seriousness that surprised me. People asked how I found the time. To be honest, I had by then delegated all possible tasks to the helps and I focused only on the husband, children and their education, and my well-being, which included following my passion of writing. The fact that it was not my main source of income liberated me and helped me keep my sanity when manuscripts were rejected. I published my books, began to write columns and found time to read, just like the old days. Since I pandered to my desires and put myself first, I was able to do more for my children without feeling resentful towards my family.
Since I pandered to my desires and put myself first, I was able to do more for my children without feeling resentful towards my family.
Self-care, in my opinion, is not just about physical care and beautifying self, it is about an overall well-being, polishing emotional intelligence and practicing self-awareness and empathy together. It is doing more with your day, blocking out chunks of time for a gamut of activities that makes a person complete and most importantly, spending time with people who matter. It is about having the time and energy to perform the different roles that make us a person and not being boxed in the role of a mother.
Riti Prasad is the author of Double Trouble, Double Fun!: A Supermom’s Guide to Raising Twins, Wicked Temptations and Mathematics Fun, Fact and Fiction. She works in the Fragrance Industry as Creation Head. The views expressed are the author’s own.
Feature Image Credit: Pixabay.com