Last year on my birthday I posted this Facebook status about how I’d neglected myself.
Birthdays are becoming a time of personal reflection for me. I was in a valley of my life, and though I couldn’t exactly name what I was experiencing, I knew I had to fight my way out of it. I knew I was not in a healthy or happy place, but I had no clue what to do to be/feel better. I know now that I was likely struggling with situational depression. It lasted for about 9 months, and I had never experienced anything like it before. Most days I was waking up and functioning at a baseline level, waiting for bedtime. I was in what I can best describe as a zombie like state. I was empty. But the one thing I did do well was wake up to make sure my children were cared for. I made sure that they had everything they needed. I was able to do that.
And on my birthday I acknowledged a divinity inside of me. I acknowledged that I deserve to be taken care of as well, and my way forward was to harness my gift, my nature, and what over the last 10 years has become my habit. The practice of mothering.
So that’s what I began to do. Mother myself ritualistically. And I offer that to you as an approach to self care. These are the aspects of motherhood that we should carry with us into adulthood.
For me that looked like telling myself- “That’s okay baby, you’re doing the best you can.”
Mothers are our cheerleaders. They are compassionate with us when we fail. When we disappoint them or ourselves, they motivate us to DO BETTER next time. Give yourself the grace of the mother.
Bathe yourself. Brush your hair. Lotion your body. Nurse yourself. Feed yourself. Dress yourself, dote on yourself, every detail.
This is important, because I started to tell myself that the neglect I had engaged in was a result of the fact that I consider myself to be low maintenance. You are worth the time. There is nothing more important than caring for yourself. You cannot effectively take care of others from a place of emptiness. This could look like bundles and lashes, or a fresh wash and go, but being faithful in tending to my personal needs reminded myself of my worth and value.
Celebrate yourself. Pray for yourself. Love yourself unconditionally.
Celebrating the fact that we exist is what our mothers do before we come into this world. Even when they are anxious about our arrival, they gather with other women to shower themselves with gifts, love and advice. Remember that you are a blessing to this world. We are what our mothers and grandmothers prayed for. I firmly believe this. But we need to follow their lead and pray for ourselves. Find quiet time to meditate, grieve, feel, acknowledge our past mistakes, and forgive ourselves. Teach yourself. Listen to yourself. Listen to the advice of trusted friends, take what resonates, and let them love on you. This is what mothers do.
This saved me. Mothering, something that had become a mundane and repetitive part of my life, pulled me out of the darkness. I know that all of our mothers didn’t or couldn’t love us in this way. I acknowledge this. But the general understanding of what motherhood looks like helped me see how I needed to treat myself. I needed tenderness, kindness, care, and grace. The grace of a mother.
Important Note: I am not a mental health care professional. This is my story. I encourage you to seek services from either traditional , non-traditional/spiritual practitioners, because there is no shame in getting support. You deserve to heal and be whole. Here are resources:
THE HEALING IN OUR TIMES PROJECT- Curated by Jade T. Perry
THERAPIST DIRECTORY- Curated by Dr. Joy, TherapyforBlackGirls.com