This week BlogHer has asked their Life Well Lived panel:
How do you practice self-acceptance and find unconditional love for yourself? How does practicing love first help you attract more love and happiness in your life?
Self-acceptance? Unconditional love for MYSELF? You mean, like something just for me, that doesn’t involve my two year old or my husband? I didn’t realize that was something I was supposed to make time for! You mean, in between teaching Max that we do not throw cookies across the living room or put Buzz LightYear in the microwave? Or maybe I was supposed to find time to love myself before I attempted to put dinner on the table, in between wrestling Max into his jammies and doing a fast and furious “get this house in respectable shape so that when Sean comes home he doesn’t think we were robbed” tidy-up game.
Or maybe the folks at BlogHer are asking because they know it’s something that so many of us moms SUCK AT.
Ohhhhhh. Yeah. That.
So it made me stop and think about it. OK, the truth is that when they first asked me to write about it I thought “I don’t have time to talk about loving myself and caring for myself. I have to go fold laundry. And brush my teeth.” And then I realized that perhaps I was the perfect candidate to reflect on self-acceptance and self-love. Yep, that’s me. Lots of time to make sure everyone else is happy, but I am waaay too busy to do anything for just me.
So I sliced myself an apple and microwaved some caramel sauce (step 1 to loving myself), and sat down to write. And then it hit me.
Writing is self-love for me. Dr. Aymee answers the question at BlogHer’s Life Well Lived page by talking about how “unconditional love is the result of unconditional acceptance.” It’s by spilling my heart out here, on your computer screens, that I’ve been able to look my “new parent” self in the eye, and confront everything that I have been afraid of. Felt guilty of. Been too tired to talk about to anyone in real life. When I type that I am afraid that I may never get the chance to mother a second child, I am forced to accept that fear and anger. When I ask you what your kids eat for dinner, or what their bedtime routine is like, I’m reassuring myself that I’m not the only one who feeds their kid mac n cheese more than once (ok, twice) a week. I don’t suck at this “Mama gig”, I’m just making my way, like all of you are. I spent a lot of my 20’s trying to be that girl. You know, the cutest, the funniest, the one who wanted to be mysterious and edgy and have a roster of guys available to entertain her at any given time. Don’t laugh. I was soooo mysterious and edgy back then y’all. Really. No, really! So it made sense that once I had Max I would want to be that mom. The one who threw the coolest birthday parties. The one who still wore hot heels with my jeans. The one who still went to swanky new restaurants with her husband on date nights. Until I realized that I was trying so hard to be a certain mom, because I was terrified that I had lost my identity on the inside. Not having time for the things that made me ME, meant that I was covering my true self up with STUFF. Clothes, shoes, enormous goody bags of matching crap at my kid’s birthday party. You know what that hides?
It hides that I love to dance. I took dance classes all throughout highschool and college, and I miss it fiercely. I love to read. But I beat myself up about taking 30 minutes at night to read a book, because you can do a lot of dishes/laundry/wasting time reading trashy magazines in 30 minutes. It hides that I have a fighting feminist spirit, and that I love a good political debate. It hides that I love to listen to my music really loud in the car, and sing even louder. Loving yourself means making time to KNOW yourself, to re-introduce yourself to the things that inspire you.
So thanks Life Well Lived, for the kick in the ass that reminded me that a happy Mommy is the key to a happy family.
I think I’ll take a minute to dust off the book that’s been sitting on my nightstand. And maybe try that Zumba class. After all, that’s what the
mysterious real me would want.