Some days, I can’t stand social media. I can’t take the vitriol. I can’t handle the ignorance and cruelty. The darkest parts of people’s souls are revealed and it is usually disheartening, often disturbing and otherwise miserable. But some days, the memes are on point and all is right with the world.
This happened to me the other day. One of my amazingly wise and insightful mom-friends posted just about the most accurate little bit of wisdom I have ever read. It struck me so hard because I didn’t even know that I needed to read those words. I didn’t even know that I was thinking this but never expressing it. I didn’t even know I was desperately looking for this validation, until it was staring at me from the screen (my modifications are noted in brackets):
“Am I the only busy mom who is tired of the ‘self care’ advice out the arse? Like really, I don’t think that anyone skips manicures and yoga class and salon cuts and long baths because they just don’t want anything to do with those things. I’m sure there are people in the same boat as me where 99 percent of the time that stuff is in no way possible or do-able and it ends up being the most annoying advice I’ve ever heard. ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup,’ like okay thanks Janice, I’m not a cup I’m an f’ing person and I gotta keep on pouring whether I want to or not because tiny [full-sized] people count on me to live. I motion that this advice no longer be given, no matter how well-intentioned, unless it comes with a concrete babysitting [chauffeuring] offer.”
I get that the whole basis of the self-care movement was to give moms, dads and caretakers permission to recharge. I understand that running on empty is not the optimum choice and these caretakers should take any opportunity to rest. I get that we should not feel selfish if we need to grab 15 minutes in the closet with a bottle of wine, some coconut covered cashews, and a four-month old HGTV magazine, so we can look at cool and dreamy projects — the likes of which we will never have the time or energy or money to bring to fruition — that are from last season anyway. I fully support this activity.
However, I hate that “self care” has become another way to shame or blame or otherwise demean those of us who can’t even keep the laundry pile smaller than the trash heap from Fraggle Rock, let alone schedule a pedicure. When I’m staring into the fridge at 6:49 p.m., yelling out dinner options — to half-starved people who have likely just arrived home from one activity or another — that consist of items like “plain yogurt, celery, hoisin sauce, grilled chicken, banana, maple syrup, and pepper jam,” I’m definitely not thinking about how bad my roots have gotten and how I now resemble a young Cruella de Vil. And I most certainly don’t need anyone to remind me that I should make an appointment with my stylist. Because frankly, Janice, I don’t have a stylist. I have hair-color-in-a-box, courtesy of the discount store and the 26 minutes I give myself to scrub the entire bathroom while the color sets, plus the ability to wear a bun — usually messy — in all situations.
I don’t need to be told “it’s not healthy to stand while you’re eating,” because I can pretty much guarantee you it’s less healthy to not eat at all. (Plus, yogurt isn’t a choking hazard and doesn’t digestion benefit from movement?) It’s pointless to tell me I shouldn’t spend so much time in the car when I’m pretty uncomfortable asking my children to navigate the county bus system. And I’m fairly certain that I was going to be called a bad mother if I didn’t make my teenager get a job in the first place. So pick a guilt trip, Janice. You can’t have your judgi-ness and support child labor, too.
We each approach this life in the best way we know how. If you need a hot bath and have to bribe your toddler with a Peppa Pig marathon and Pop-Tarts to get it, you go for yours. On the flip side, if you cry a little too hard at your middle-schooler’s Christmas pageant because you’re multi-purposing and the only time you get to sit down to enjoy your child’s many talents is also the only time you have to mourn the loss of your cat, I’ve got your back.
We’re all in this together, momma. Don’t get in front of my family truckster and drive leisurely when I’m 17 minutes late for a half-hour meeting and I won’t accidentally-on-purpose not say anything when I notice that your pre-schooler sprayed coconut oil on your yoga mat.
If you do happen to land face first in that coconut oil, have no fear. You’ve just given yourself a nourishing facial! According to prevention.com — and every single hipster that ever lived — coconut oil offers a host of benefits for your skin and hair. Look at you, multi-task self-caring!