Truth Tuesday: Self Care is for the birds


I’m here today to say that “Self Care” needs a new name and a new PR firm. The way we’ve got it delineated right now is for the birds. You see, in order to survive and thrive in this odd invention that is modern motherhood, I need more than some spa experiences, a little rest, a girls night, or “me” time. I need training. Like, legitimate elite training.

Alas, “Self Care” currently works like this:

Perhaps someone who loves you notices that you are losing your mind and they give you either a gift certificate or they offer to watch your kids, both of which always backfire because the gift certificate is usually to that beefy massage therapist with forearms made for a pirate ship and the kids come back knowing that Gummy Bears can be used as toilet grenades and that Miley Cyrus has an Instagram account with lots of “pictures of pizza” (yes, go look).

Or maybe you take it upon yourself to remedy the burn out by making a New Year’s BullShitalution and decide to do more nice things for yourself. In which case, you started scheduling with a mad dash odd self-care services depending on access and affordability, which also means you and Groupon become intimate, with Living Social as your mistress.

And I’ve done it all. Like the one and only Brazilian waxing where the aesthetician talked about her new “juicy” pot roast recipe the entire time and after which I screamed, “WAIT, BRAZILIAN MEANS ALL GONE?”

And then the time I got my eyebrows dyed because I decided I didn’t want to look like Powder if Powder were a scant Neanderthal woman with scrawny legs and a fivehead. Let’s just say I ended up looking like this:

And then when I signed up for a 40-Day Hot Yoga Challenge, but only made it to Day 1 and then, after using the “I couldn’t because of Divorce” card, I soon realized that yoginis are now businessinis. Buh bye hot investment.

And I’ve gotten my nails done only a handful of times and each time resulted in a legitimate shaming from the nail technician as she attempted to fix the avalanche of polish that occurred within 2.5 seconds. Apparently, sticking my feet in hiking boots is not a good post-polish idea.

And I’d be remiss to not mention the “detox for women” I did once that had me learning the art (or torture) of food combining where in I had to eat “flesh” and “fat” at certain times and not together with figs or fanny packs or flannels or Finnegan. Let’s just say things got backlogged.

That last one happened a long time ago, so we can still be friends.

Modern Motherhood warrants more than these tactics, doesn’t it? Like I said, it’s a mind boggingly insane invention. It’s completely devoid of the things that - and this could be a sweeping generalization - once made being a mother possible, nurturing, reciprocal, and manageable. For instance, take stock of what I mean:

  • Loss of tribal, female-led communities
  • No option for 40-days postpartum to recover and reconnect and attach
  • Loss of nature as an incredible caregiver to our children
  • Dependence on two incomes (or more) in most households, which means that the way we work has been depleted of passion and replaced by intense duty, pressure, and a lack of flex time for our children.
  • Partners who face equal difficulties in their own roles
  • Our bodies are objects under constant scrutiny
  • Our lives turn into carpools with scheduled activities
  • We often unconsciously - and sometimes consciously - compete against and judge each other as mothers
  • We are addicted to smart phones that simultaneously give our stressed brains a needed dopamine release and yet rob our spirits of connection and mindfulness.
  • 40% of us are addicted to substances as poor coping mechanisms for the above
  • ETC

I don’t know about you, but I need some super skills in how to be with all of the above and not only be a steward to wee ones, but to not get sick or lost as a woman. Like, I need education. I need real deal tools. Would you suggest to a surgeon that he/she just go get a manicure before operating on someone rather than prep and train? Would we find it ok that our teachers skip the masters degree and go do a series of booty boot camps instead? Would it be even remotely possible for an athlete to compete at high levels with just a bout of meditation classes?

Why oh why do we not take the work of women as seriously as professional professions? Why is our current self-care system considered adequate for what we GET to hold and carry in this world? Please, explain it to me, someone, because the way I see it, we are raising complex human beings who will make or break our world’s ability to conquer some pretty big obstacles. And, on a more surface level, we are the guides to their joy, an aspect of life that is really the only thing that matters and makes sense. And - listen carefully - we are doing that for them while managing an incredibly difficult terrain of modernity and pressures on us to function outside of our roles as mothers, a birthright we have fought to have and that we deserve to experience with full financial/spiritual/societal support.

Shitballs. I’m gonna need more than a temporary shine and polish.

Self-Care ought to be structured around a serious ninja warrior training protocol that actually helps me develop viable coping mechanisms. It should not require money. It should not be temporary. It should not have to need a vacation afterwards or a bullet proof vest or a bubble around me in order to maintain. It ought to be in the air we breathe every day and in the very available resources of our soul and gumption.

And, don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking the whole cushy yummy spa experiences. I get it. But, I just don’t think they should be lumped into the “Self-Care” category. They should be instead: Options for Warranted Luxury.

Thus, I'm renaming Self-Care for myself as “Tactical Self Anchoring” instead.

Now, WARNING. You are instantly going to start naming Should-Dragons and listing them out as your training protocol. Eat better! Save money! Go to therapy! No. This is the old way. It has failed you before, it will fail you again. The new way is this:

  • Find a Tactical Self-Anchoring Buddy
  • Agree to communicate about your training
  • Set Your Heart and Mind On Adapting this as a Non-Negotiable Practice

And then, each day, do these things while preparing to communicate about :

  • Sit in silence for 2-5 minutes
  • Confess your vulnerabilities and your normal -isms out loud each day, with laughter and perspective
  • Declare how you want to FEEL today on paper - just a word or phrase before you look at your phone
  • Declare how you are going to fight for that feeling today on paper - just a word or phrase before you look at your phone
  • Look people and your children in the eye throughout your day
  • Wait at the minimum for three seconds before saying YES/NO to anything (food, people, duties, helping, travels, spending, etc)
  • Exercise
  • Hydrate
  • Sleep

ENTER TACTICAL SELF-ANCHORING TRAINING. You'll get tons of tentacles growing out of this training, which is the whole point. Don't sway from the course, though. Keep on these few things and the rest will slide in as it needs.

In my head, I ended this post with a Karate Kid Crane move. FYI.