Yesterday I read a blog post by a friend of mine that mentioned self-care. I responded that I should post something on my blog about self-care. Or take a nap. Yesterday I chose to take a nap. It was the right choice.
I’ve been hearing about self-care a lot lately. Well-meaning, concerned people keep telling me that I have to take care of myself. They say this as if it hadn’t already occurred to me. I do appreciate your concern. Honestly. What you don’t realize is that right now, self-care is not about (as my friend put it in her post) pedicures and a bottle of wine. Right now self-care is getting my laundry done, grocery shopping, and bathing, with a little bit of taking out the trash and wiping down the counters thrown in for good measure. Notice I didn’t say house cleaning. My house is a not so much a filthy mess as a dusty mess, but a mess nevertheless. Oh, I made a little rhyme there. (A big part of self-care is taking pleasure whenever you glimpse it.) But I just don’t have the energy to thoroughly clean my house right now, so it doesn’t get done.
Right now self-care is doing those things I must do in order to function in a basic way from day-to-day. These are things like brushing my teeth. Right now I just don’t have the time or the energy to pamper myself daily or even weekly. It’s not as though I am the only one in this boat. I know lots of people who are working more than one job and who either have young children or children with special needs that require a great deal of time and attention. As the weeks go by I know more and more people like myself who find that we must spend increasingly more time and energy taking care of our parents.
Even though we are pretty much perpetually tired and constantly trying to figure out exactly what is the best thing to do and to learn how to do it, we don’t begrudge our time and energy to our children and our parents. It’s just the way it is. Yes, I want to do this and I choose to do it, but that doesn’t make it easy.
The one part of self-care that I am determined to do better starting right now is saying no. Please understand that when I tell you no, I’m not trying to be mean or uncaring. When I say no it is because I really can’t do it. I have limits and I’m the one who knows where those limits are. Trust me, I have pushed right up to the edge of the limits and sometimes past the limits (and there is a huge price to pay for that). I have a very good idea where my limits are, and yet sometimes I am surprised. On occasion I find myself saying, “Whoops, didn’t realize how close to the end I was, but I’m done and have to stop now. Not at the end of the term, not tomorrow, not in a few minutes – now.”
I do also truly appreciate everyone who offers to help and do what they can to pick up the slack or lighten my load in some way. If you know me well you know that generally I am very good about delegating tasks. I will accept your offer and I will even ask for help. I will let you do something for me, but sometimes they aren’t things that you can do. I’ve got to brush my own teeth and take my own shower, Folks, but sure, you can bring dinner over. I’d appreciate it if you’d call first and make sure I don’t already have dinner in the oven.
Thank you for caring. I really mean that. And thank you for understanding that I am in a time of my life now where what has to get done keeps changing but the time and energy I have to do those things, or figure those things out, stays the same. I know that I work best with a routine and I am in the process of coming up with a new routine although that seems to be easier said than done.
Now, I have set aside 45 minutes to watch a Buffy the Vampire Slayer rerun. Talk to you later.
P.S. Why isn’t “pedicures” in spell check? Somebody really should talk to them about self-care.