I think, or I know, as moms and maybe even females, we put ourselves last on the list. The needs of others come first. Women tend to be the caregivers, the homemakers, the house manager. Tend to be. I am not generalizing to all women. I know some incredible men who fit those categories and incredible women who don't. But I do. I fit those categories. Even when I was working outside of the home full-time, I managed appointments and playdates and date nights and decorating. Ok, that last one is all on me. I love decorating. I could putter and rearrange allllll day.
I don't know if the master scheduler is more part of me being caregiver or my personality. Thinking about it now, I would say it depends on the situation. I am not one of those wives that would reload the dishwasher the "right way". Eff no. If it was loaded? Thank you! And it was. Often. But I was the wife who would make the appointments, and know the schedule and the birthdays (not ages, we've discussed this) and procure presents and cards and the like. It's the invisible load that people talk about.
So it comes as no surprise that one of the things that I have been so careful to cultivate in the last year is putting myself first on the list. I am learning that the more rested, fulfilled and replenished I am, the better everyone else around me is. Your oxygen mask first. So comes the intentional work of loving myself. The good, the bad and the ugly. That self-love can look like a lot of things. Sometimes it's going to bed at 8:30. Lots of times it's taking a bath. Other times it's learning. I have a huge stack of books by my bed and a list of podcasts that I am running through.
But most of all it is gentle and loving acceptance. More, welp, ok and less, oh hell, no way. Honoring my strength and my struggle. Crying when I need to (Nope. Just dropped the shampoo. That was not a wracking sob.) and being quiet when necessary. It has meant turning to friends with hard questions but knowing they will tell me the truth. Especially when I don't know the answer. It's a coffee for me and cookie for Sweet P from Starbucks when I just need to be out of the house. It's Stella & Dot and this blog and a couple of other projects up my sleeve. It's been meditation and yoga. I am no longer as bendy as I was but it's coming. It has been trying to accept where I am in this journey - the losses, the gains, the progress and the incredible lengths yet to go. It has meant saying "no" or "yes" with consideration and sincerity. It has meant putting me first. It has been hard!
I say that my superpower is my ability to love. Actually, I don't "say" that. I am *learning* to say that. After years of my friends gently beating it into me. Using their experience and anecdotal experience of my own. (Do you know that I spend almost an hour with my Stella & Dot hostesses after the show? I have loved up their friends and more often than not, my hostesses need some extra care and love. Isn't that why they got their friends together in the first place? So I stay late. Allowing the empath that I am to take over and give them what they need. The hug I get at the end? It is special and I am so thankful.) Thinking of the threads of my life and accepting that love is my superpower, I learned that I didn't turn it inward enough. I didn't think to do it and at first I didn't know how. What an experience that has been.
To love those around you well, you have to love yourself. To love others freely without being depleted, you have to love yourself. You have to love the one you're with. And more than any other person in the world, you are with yourself. Start there.
And if nobody has told you today, you are loved.
Do me a favor? Share this with someone you love. Tell them, I may not say it often enough, but you are loved and I am happy we have walked some of my life's path together.