Flowers, gifts and massages are all wonderful ideas for a day of celebrating you- you brilliant, chaos controlling, multi-tasking, hard-working mama. In conversation with many of my friends, and reflecting on my own life, we simply do not make time for ourselves in the midst of this chaotic life. The world definitely is not getting any less hectic, and caring for ourselves is getting increasingly challenging.
This task becomes doubly so if you are caring for other, little human beings whilst trying to grow, develop professionally and care for yourself personally. Add another layer of difficulty on top of that if you do not have extended family for support on your journey for growth. So often it feels like it’s you against the world, it’s a lonely place but I see you. I see you striving everyday to get through the grind. Because I see you, and I see myself- I wanted to talk a bit on the deeper meaning of self-care, beyond the flowers and massages, what does it really mean to care for one’s self?
Self-care has become commercialized to mean flowers, massages, and carving out time to get your nails done (which is all great!) but that is superficial care. What does genuine self-care look like? In my mind self-care, the one that attributes to your well-being from inside out are centered around two themes:
- The relationships with those around us.
- The relationship you have with yourself.
The Relationships with Those Around Us
Dear mamas, all I can say is guard the energy you allow into your life with a passion. So often in our need to be part of community, to have friends, to avoid feeling lonely we allow individuals into our lives who are not healthy to our mental, spiritual or physical well-being. In our quest to avoid loneliness we find ourselves alone. One of the most painful realizations I’ve had is that even though you may love someone, they simply do not have a place in your life. It doesn’t mean you stop loving that individual, it just means they do not belong in your space.
With that said, prioritize and nourish the relationships you care in keeping. So often, we get caught up in the mundane; work, home, chores, kids, homework, dinner, bath time, it’s overwhelming. But you must force the quiet time – the down time where quality interactions can occur. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, it can be down time where everyone’s devices are off, and you’re just chillin’. When was the last time you were in a room with your kids, for example, and no one had a device in their hand (including yourself?).
And even beyond the lens of our children, what does the relationship with our partner look like? Are we prioritizing each other in the chaos of life? Do we still seek to do the sweet little things we once did for one another? And although small, they mean a lot in maintaining a relationship. But these little things often get neglected. We are too overwhelmed with the mechanics of life, to keep everything churning for the kids, that we forget about one another. The hard part is maintaining one another in the midst of the kids growing, so that when we find ourselves alone – once again, you can still recognize one another.
*Let Go of Expectations*
As I’ve gotten older, the phrase “do something for the sake of Allah” has taken on new meaning. It is pretty humbling to genuinely do something for the sake of Allah, instead of expecting something in return, not gratitude, a word of praise, nothing. You simply do good for someone with zero expectations in return, it’s quite freeing. Because the understanding of doing something for a higher purpose frees you from human expectations. You are not confined to human reward, but you believe there is something greater for you waiting.
The Relationship You Have With Yourself
This is probably the hardest relationship of all to navigate. You have to live with yourself every waking moment of the day, and the status of your internal well-being either makes this enjoyable or …not so much. Untangling feelings of confusion, guilt, loneliness are challenging, and I often find the hardest person to be kind to is yourself. If you think about it, how often are we quick to dish out soothing words to our children, partner, friends, but it’s so much harder to do so for ourselves.
The stress of the daily grind is real. And losing yourself within that rush to get things done for the day, just to go to sleep and start again tomorrow – is very real. The mechanics of life makes the daily process feel a bit … mechanical. Catch yourself in those moments, and remind yourself of the bigger picture, what is that bigger picture for you? Ground yourself in that – ground yourself in the beauty of the imperfection of it all. Don’t lose yourself, don’t lose your creativity, and I wish I had the answer, but honestly, the answer looks different for all of us. It’s a process of navigation, untangling and understanding – what does that look like for you?
My process has involved letting go of so many attachments. Attachments to individuals, to material possessions, and replacing it with an attachment to my Creator, grounding myself in my professional goals, and I’m still working on my personal health. The idea here is that there is no final destination, we are constantly a work in progress, and that’s ok.
In the midst of all the flowers this Mother’s Day, I’m asking you (and me!) to be a bit kinder to ourselves, a bit more loving, and a bit more forgiving.