It doesn’t seem that long ago, coming home from the hospital in Metairie, Louisiana, with our firstborn—a truly memorable experience. The gracious night nurse had just given me a crash course on caring for a newborn … not just any newborn, but my own. It didn’t take long to realize the meaning of the new little life depending on me. Diaper changes, feedings, and all-nighters followed by all-dayers proved to be much more challenging than I had imagined it all to be. Soon, I realized, it adds up. Caring wholeheartedly for someone else takes a toll on the caregiver, on the mom. It wasn’t long after that I realized the best gift coming home from the hospital would have been something unexpected, but entirely needed—a prescription for weekly, or even daily, guilt-free personal time for the mom.
An interview I read in the USA Today (click here for link) with Marie Osmond, mother of eight children, was along these same lines—that women, moms especially, rarely take care of themselves. One of Marie’s sons said to her, “Mom, we think you’re beautiful no matter what you weigh, but we want you to start taking care of yourself. … We want you to be around for us and for our kids, too.” Such truth.
The longer I’ve been a mom, the more I’ve realized the intensity of the need for time to care for myself. When we give, we also earn the need to replenish. It doesn’t matter if the replenishment comes in the form of an undisturbed hour to soak in the tub or daily time to unwind with a walk or a run, but caring for ourselves, in general, is often difficult to justify. There is always another meal to prepare, room to pick up, bill to pay, or dish to wash. But we need time away from drudgeries like clothes ruined by the errant crayon melted in the dryer. We, as human beings, need time and investment in our health—more than an occasional check in a box to say that we are worth more than a hill of beans.
When we invest more than the tired minute at the end of the day in ourselves, we’re able to gain balance, restore or gain personal health. Even more, when we allow ourselves time to reflect and sort the healthy from the harmful, and let go of those things pinning us down under the weight of an oppressive past, we begin to feel a change, a positive awakening to something full and vibrant and real—something authentic. There is nothing more valuable to give to our spouses and children, to the world around us, and to life and living, than an unhindered, authentic love coming from the depth of personal well-being and health … beauty and love at its best.
When we care for ourselves, we care for our families as well. When we invest in our health, we invest in the health of those we love as well. When we continue to learn, exercise, laugh, and enjoy life, we also help those we love to do those very same things. We want the best for those entrusted to our care. Maybe by beginning with something as innocuous as prescription for spending intentional time remembering our own health, we can remember that our health is important, too.
This Mother’s Day, give the gift of encouragement and empowerment to someone you love (even yourself!) so that she may take another step toward becoming all that she can be. It just may be the best gift ever.