When my daughter became a teenager, she did something that baffled me.
It happened when she was tired or had just woken up. She’d stand in front of me, drop her head, and not say a word. When I asked a question, she’d mumble or shrug. I could tell she wanted something, but I didn’t know what.
Then one day it hit me. I noticed her body leaning toward me, ever so slightly, and waiting for me to respond. I realized then what she wanted was something I hadn’t given her in a while.
A big maternal hug.
After this epiphany, I formed a plan game. I knew what to do when she planted her body in front of me. You want a hug, kid? Well, I’ll show you one! I’d wrap my arms around my daughter and hold her as tightly as I could. I’d embrace her as long as she let me.
I knew my instincts were right when my daughter relaxed in my arms. In these moments, I was her safe place, a source of comfort when she was tired.
Sometimes she didn’t hug me back. I didn’t take this personally because I knew the hidden truth. She still craved my love and affection, but she didn’t want to ask for them.
What if taking care of yourself was the first step to helping your family thrive?
If you’ve parented long enough, then you’ve learned firsthand why your personal wellness matters.
You’ve felt the pain (or consequences) of devaluing yourself. Whether your wake-up call came from a diagnosis, a breakdown, an issue with your child or spouse, heightened anxiety, or simply feeling depleted, joyless, or numb, it most likely unveiled this truth:
Mothers are humans too. We require love, compassion, rest, and renewal.
Taking care of our needs strengthens us and equips us for the road ahead.
In my rookie days as a mom, I ignored the advice on self-care. Honestly, I thought it sounded self-indulgent, like an excuse to take bubble baths and visit the spa, and I didn’t feel like I needed it. I assumed my early exuberance and adrenaline would always exist, and I started my journey as a Giver ready to crush my parenting goals. Little did I know, there would be days that crushed me.
Fast forward 20 years, and I know better. I am older and wiser, and I feel the wear-and-tear of engaging in a lifelong marathon. My body suddenly dicates what I can and can’t do. Only now do I get the analogy about mothers putting on their oxygen mask first to take care of their family. How can we help anyone if we get knocked out? What good are we to those we love if we end up on the stretcher?