Self Care: Mama, Are You Dressed?

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For some reason or another, self-care and getting dressed has always been the first thing to go when I’m under stress. Finals week in college you could find me huddled over my computer, wearing the same sweatshirt as the day before, dirty hair in a bun, and munching a frozen pizza. Busy week at work? I’d be oversleeping until the last possible second, wearing wrinkly clothes and forgetting my lunch. Once the storm passed I’d always manage to gather myself, rally the troops, and put the pieces back together but the same thing would always happen again.

Now as a mom, I find myself under a never-ending hurricane of unpredictability and pressure. The chores never end, the requests are relentless, the messes cycle from room to room and I feel like I’m always waiting for “things to calm down” before I can do something. To say it’s easy to get swept up and feel overwhelmed would be an understatement. How I could possibly be so happy trying to do it all is a mystery only moms can explain. At any rate, I feel like I’ve been in panic mode since 2016, the motherload of all finals weeks that just won’t quit for almost five years. One day, while we were getting ready to go on a playdate my two-year-old son, was listing off everyone’s “status” for readiness to leave the house…

“I’m dressed! Anthe’s dressed! Finley is dressed! And…mama…are you dressed?”

Ouch. My son couldn’t tell if I’d gotten dressed for the day yet. In his defense, the exact outfit I was wearing had been my pajamas just a week before, I wasn’t sure if I’d brushed my hair, and the last time I opened my makeup bag I had found a moldy sponge. It wasn’t his fault, honestly… *was* I dressed?

When I first brought my oldest home, I had a lot of help and support but still needed reminders and not so gentle nudges to take a shower, eat some food, and change my clothes. Even with the help, it was more the chaotic feel of the environment for me that made those important things fall to the wayside. Fast forward to today…and it ain’t pretty. I go days without showering, I have the same set of old t-shirts and pilled leggings that I rotate to function as sleepwear, daywear, and yardwork wear. I do not own a pair of jeans that fit. I just recently purchased new socks and underwear; my first time since before my daughter was born. Subsequently, I’m tired all the time, feel unmotivated and hate how I look.

I fully believe in being comfortable and don’t support the idea that a mom needs to dress up to be “good” but at what point does comfortable slip into something else? Why do I think parenthood gives me an excuse to just stall out and quit trying? I’m not really sure where to begin with self-care and getting dressed, so this isn’t advice. Because while I’m trying to bail myself out, there are diapers to be changed and nightmares to chase away. The river around me doesn’t stop, but I have to find a way to pull my head above water for just a minute and figure out how to care about myself again. My kids need to see that I think I matter, that I’m not choosing to hide and push myself aside even for them. I need them to know that mama got dressed.

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