There are so many incredible women in my life. Beautiful, remarkable, talented, and really genuinely care about the people in their lives. It amazes me the lengths they will go through to take care of the people in their lives, but then totally neglect their own health and their needs. It is so difficult to believe after all this time the guilt and shame built into our roles as a woman, and especially as mothers. I am not a mother, but a daughter, sister, and friend to many. I watch from the outside, which can be more telling than inside sometimes. I watch these monoliths of strength hold up their families in ways that would make super glue want to patent them. They spend most of their days devoted to keeping their families safe, well fed, educated, and well adjusted. The culture of sacrifice pervades incessantly, to the point their always standing, always the last to eat at dinner time, and even feel guilty when they are sick. I thought that was an old way of thinking, but it is so prevalent they even make Nyquil commercials about it.
I get it. I really do, society says that if you spend any time on yourself that you are selfish. It isn’t men either, we do this to ourselves. Our moms, grandmas, and great grandmas gave so much of themselves. We feel this urge to be productive, useful, and loving at all times. It is not just a current expectation it is a sociological imperative. My grandma had surgery to remove cancer on her nose in the morning, and much to my dismay, that afternoon was making my Grandpa a sandwich. My Mom still can’t take a day off and all of the kids are grown and moved out of the house. My sister in law who is the best mom I have ever seen, felt guilty last week because she was so sick she couldn’t make breakfast. She has a very competent husband, my strapping brother, who makes a very delicious breakfast. I know, I have eaten his biscuits and gravy and they are better than my own momma’s (Please don’t tell her.) My nephew is probably better taken care of than any child in the world, and that is not Okie exaggeration.
I am not making a case for neglecting of children or any other responsibilities. I am trying to impress upon my sisters, mothers, and friends to stop putting your needs last and please breakup with the guilt monster.
“Heart disease is the leading cause of death for African American and white women in the United States. Among Hispanic women, heart disease and cancer cause roughly the same number of deaths each year. For American Indian or Alaska Native and Asian or Pacific Islander women, heart disease is second only to cancer.” –That’s from the CDC website
I believe that there is just too much. We have too much in our lives anymore. We need an exhaust vent. I am not a parent but I need my alone time. I need to do things that make me feel autonomous. My hubby and I are eerily close, but we both need time off. He will play video games all day if he wants. He doesn’t need to be productive. He understands the need to vent the steam, and doesn’t feel guilty about it.
Everyone works now, and I am a feminist so I am loving that, but with women still shouldering most of the household responsibilities it means most of those women are over worked and stressed. Why is there guilt when a day off is needed? Why do we feel like we have to explain our time? I wish my Mom was more indulgent. It is not selfish, its maintenance.
Even inanimate objects require maintenance. Cars need their oil changed. Houses need gutters cleaned and filters changed. Don’t we deserve better than inanimate objects? Please, if you are reading this, find something you love doing that is all yours and take time out to do it. Even if it is super small like twenty minutes a day, please make sure it is yours and that you feel amazing after you do it. Maintain your sanity, and in turn your heart and soul. I have been doing yoga, and I love a nice long bath. My sister likes the hard core stuff like rowing machines. Art is fun, meditation, journaling, or reading, even just sitting down with a trashy magazine is good. Women, mommas especially, need restorative time to themselves or even time with friends. Please if you feel guilty call me. I will tell you it is okay. If you need permission, I will tell you how much you deserve to indulge. It’s not selfish. It is maintenance.