For the longest time, when I would describe myself, it always went in the same order. I am a mother, a wife and lastly a woman. Each one of these descriptors has many subcategories that may or may not overlap. We never are truly just one thing. Then you add military in front of any of those descriptors and you tack on at least 10 other things. Y’all know I’m not exaggerating either. I think I can confidently say that I am not the only one who finds themselves placing their needs on the back burner to take care of home and family.
Before I was a mother and a wife, I was a woman. My only job was to take care of me. Self-care was truly something I can say I took for granted as I looked at the never-ending list of things to do and have yet to see anything on it that is “just for me.”
I believe that during certain times in a military career, the spouse takes on all the roles because if not them, then who? That burden, responsibility, or whatever you want to call it can not only be physically taxing but also mentally taxing. I don’t know if y’all are like me but when your day starts at 5:30 a.m. and involves everything from school, daycare, work, dinner, homework, bath, bed, cleaning up, and ends between 10 p.m. and midnight — only for you to wake up and do it all over again — self-care falls by the wayside, simply because you are just trying to get through the days until your partner comes home.
I truly find myself pouring from an empty cup and not even realizing it. Only when things don’t go as planned, and I find myself being hard on myself do I realize that I need to take a “second” and be kind to myself. I have this “everything is my responsibility” mentality, that doesn’t do me any favors. I seem to forget to include myself in that “everything” when it comes to what I am truly responsible for.
I find myself feeling like a bad mom, wife, homemaker and even a bad woman/person for not being able to do it all, all the time. Really, why am I so hard on myself? It wasn’t until I had my daughter and experienced postpartum complications that I realized it’s not my responsibility to do everything all on my own, all the time. I learned to lean on my partner more than I ever had in our almost decade of partnership. Why did it take such a big thing for me to take a step back and not only accept help but to ask for it and not feel like a failure?
Once I took that self-imposed pressure off my shoulders and started showing myself grace in all parts of my life, a weight was lifted off my chest. This life already comes with so many hard times from deployments, family separations, and having to start over every couple of years — we don’t need to be so hard on ourselves when we don’t live up to our expectations. Whether those expectations are reasonable or not.
What comes to mind when I think of showing myself grace is to be kind to myself. Give me a break and pour into me positively instead of giving power to self-negativity. When you take the time to think about it, isn’t showing ourselves kindness and speaking positively the first real act of self-care? Without giving grace, is it self-care? One of the best things we can do is shake off the negative feelings we have about ourselves and show a little — maybe a lot — of grace. After all, it’s not only the simplest form of self-care but also the ultimate act of self-care. It’s free and takes no time at all. That’s a win-win my friend. I’m just saying self-love and appreciation can go a long way. So do yourself a favor, show yourself some grace. I promise you won’t ever regret it.