Everett and I have been fabulously well cared-for, first by my mother (who visited for a week), and friends (especially my playgroup, who bring me dinner twice a week from now through Thanksgiving), and Ben and Sophie, and now by Ben’s Aunt Marla, who has all the perfect questions.
“Okay, honey, I just did the dishes and the laundry,” Aunt Marla says, “so why don’t you think about some deep cleaning that you would like me to do?”
I am so lucky.
Aunt Marla brought a recipe for a lemony-whipped-cream dessert that Sophie took great delight in making with her, giggling uproarously at the mess they made together as the whipped cream flew around the kitchen.
Aunt Marla has initiated Sophie into the joys of making secret surprise craft gifts for me and Everett. Soph loves the secrecy, perhaps, most of all.
But most importantly, Aunt Marla asked, “Why don’t you do something for yourself each day?”
This, for me, is the hardest part of motherhood.
Taking care of others gives me a lot of satisfaction. Cooking a good meal for my family and friends, smelling Everett after giving him his first bath, listening to Sophie laughing with Marla, even just putting clean sun-dried sheets on the bed, keeping my house comfortable: there is a way in which taking care of others IS taking care of myself.
But that means that I can forget to prioritize my own needs.
It’s rare for us moms to have someone like Marla who insists on giving us time to ourselves — and I’m not good at taking it.
Sadly, I had to think about what I really want to do. I want to hike a mountain, of course, but I can’t do that yet (my body is still recovering from birth, and Everett breast-feeds up to once an hour, so any long hikes would be hikes-with-a-baby). I want to finish the revisions to my book manuscript. I want to move all my friends from around the country to my particular town here by the beach. I want to travel the world again. It’s not that I don’t have any desires: it’s more that my desires don’t fit into the fifteen-minute chunks of me-time which is what I get, right now, with a newborn.
So I took a bath. Went for a walk on the beach with the baby. Did a postnatal yoga routine. Walked through a meditation garden. Went out for lunch, twice this week. Napped. Tried to think of things for myself that are more than just checking email, or checking facebook, or, indeed, blogging.
One of my playgroup friends told me how pathetic she felt when offered time to herself, too short to go surfing, so all she could think of doing was walking around the block. What do you other mommas do? And how do you take the time to do it, when you don’t have an Aunt Marla visiting?