If we wait until we’re drowning to grab on to the lifesaver dangling in front of us, it may be too late. In the case of self care, this might mean when we get to the actual self care act, it may exhaust us more than it uplifts us. If you’re running on empty but know you need to get in a yoga class to boost yourself up, the class may have the opposite effect. Between the act of driving to the class and the actual exercise, you may leave feeling exhausted rather than energized.
The first few weeks of motherhood are hard. They may be some of the hardest weeks of your life. Through sleep deprivation and complete disregard of our own needs, we are expected to keep a tiny human alive and thriving. They said it would be joyous and magical, they lightly mentioned hard and exhausting, I heard nothing about it being scary. There was talk of hormone adjustments and lack of sleep--the reminder to sleep when baby sleeps--but no one spoke about the insomnia that may come. No one told me I'd be running on adrenaline, unable to force myself in to a nap. Even when she slept at night, I woke up thinking she might too, making sure she was still breathing.
It is also important to remember in thinking about your own childhood traumas or a trauma experienced by your child, that children define events differently than we do as adults. I think back to an incident in my own childhood where I was playing outside and went in to the yard of a house near by to say hello to a dog in the yard. The dog jumped on my back, bigger than I was, and knocked me down. For some, this incident might have instilled a lifelong fear of dogs, but in my 5-year-old brain I defined the event as the dog giving me a hug.
When a mother gives birth, there is a sudden shift to being completely selfless. Nothing is about you anymore, it is all about the baby. When we make the shift to selfless, we often forget or don't acknowledge that recognizing our own needs is not a form of selfishness. The recognition of our own needs helps us to better recognize and acknowledge the need of the baby. While we tend to the baby, nurturing him or her--giving them love, food, comfort, and touch--we often forget to nurture ourselves. When our own needs aren't met, it makes it harder to tend to the needs of the baby. We may become easily frustrated and impatient with the baby, in turn making us frustrated with the way we are mothering.