A Low Bar For Self Care
Everyone knows that mothers don’t have time for themselves. What people are just now discovering is that mothers in quarantine somehow bend the principles of mathematics and have even less time for themselves. Every day is the same struggle of trying to work from home, take care of my infant, make sure food is cooked and things are cleaned. I have a tremendous amount of help from my partner, but it’s still a monotonous drain standing over the sink to wash baby bottles five times a day. It’s not the same as having hired help or even family assistance.
I’ve rehearsed it so much, I could move through the day in my sleep, which would be nice because I don’t sleep much. It’s not even the baby who keeps me up anymore; it’s our fucking cats.
When people ask me how I’m staying entertained, I don’t know how to answer that question because I AM the entertainment for an almost eight-month-old baby. I have a sliver of a half an hour or so after dinner is cleaned up, and before I have to pump breastmilk for the fourth time in a day, where I can make the choice to either catch up on work or watch part of a TV show.
Pre-baby, my self care situation was pretty good. I had time and money to burn on looking and feeling great. Post-baby but pre-stay at home, things were far more limited but space was created. To paint a picture, I had no qualms about leaving an eight-week-old baby with my husband last November to spend four hours at a Korean spa. When possible, I regularly indulged in manicures, waxes, and a stolen hour at the mall just touching pretty things with a friend. That was in the before times. Now we’re in a surreal dream state and the bar for self care is set as close to the floor as it will go without touching.
Now that I don’t have sacred spaces to visit and professionals to help me feel like myself, I’ve had to get creative in both my habits and definition of what self care can mean on a reduced scale.
Here’s a list of things I’ve done in the past two months or so that I now consider luxurious me-time and how I would rate them on a traditional scale of five stars.
- Waxed my own upper lip with a self-waxing strip I ordered online. This act made me feel both exhilarated and deranged at the same time. I might never pay for someone else to do this again?? ⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Gave my toes a pedicure on my front porch. This seemed like a great idea at the time. Forgo work and spend my son’s naptime outside putting on a fresh coat of red paint with the dexterity of a toddler. In retrospect, this was sort of a gross thing to do in front of my house. We haven’t been able to do our yard yet, so there are very limited places to sit for long periods of time. No one needs to see me hunched over digging into my cuticles in broad daylight, but these are not normal times. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Made it through a whole 20-minute podcast. Granted this is while I was also furiously cleaning the house, but if you know me…that’s also a personal form of self care. ⭐️⭐️
- Bought a new book, but did not start it. In true Gemini fashion, I abandoned my last novel two chapters in for something new. I haven’t started the new book either, but I feel the intention is there. ⭐️
- Plucked, like, 6 gray hairs. I’ve never had to do this before because I only ever had the very occasional errant gray hair nestled into my bangs, and it was always sort of cute how taken aback I was by it. Baby plus pandemic equals rapid aging. I plucked them out with tweezers, which meant I also plucked out twice as many regular hairs by accident. ⭐️⭐️
- Watched all of Unorthodox on Netflix in two days and three seasons of Married at First Sight on Hulu in less than a week. Since the baby has become more alert, we’ve been pretty good about not having the TV on while he’s in the room. But … these are truly brain-draining times and there are no gold stars given out for parenting, ever. So, I let myself enjoy the simple pleasures of high and low brow television. My son’s development will be just fine, if not enriched by watching several strangers get married and then try to deal with that decision for eight weeks. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Found time to lay my body on two tennis balls. My back is not doing well. I made it to one chiropractor appointment before stay-at-home orders and it was not enough. I have eight months of contorting my back to feed, lift, and carry a slowly increasing weight. A while back, taking advice from a physical therapist, my husband fashioned a little back roller by taping two tennis balls together and even 30 seconds on that thing feels like a Swedish massage. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Taken two Advil. Accompanying said back pain, I have had some pretty gnarly tension headaches and the fact that I remembered to wash Advil down with iced coffee is incredible. ⭐️⭐️
- Eaten an Uncrustable. For those of you without children or the palate of a child, an Uncrustable is an individually wrapped frozen peanut butter and jelly pocket made of white bread. The ultimate self care? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Taken exactly Epsom salt two baths. I am not a bath person. Unpopular opinion, I am aware. I always go in feeling like an Instagram photo, complete with candle, face mask, book, and wine. But my intentions to take a long luxurious bath are usually sabotaged by me getting too hot, bored, or just looking at my phone the whole time. I forced myself to stay in for 15 minutes both times though. Afterward, I made my husband get in and take a bath in my old water while I taught him how to put on a face mask. This janky ass spa date night was enough to delight us for several days. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Stress bought a bunch of skincare products. This is actually a pretty decent self care move, pandemic or not. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Blow-dried my hair. I had a haircut scheduled for the week before quarantine and it got canceled. I am now pushing six months since a haircut. I’ve been growing out my hair, so it isn’t the worst thing in the world, but I have spent over a year hating my hair after mistakenly getting it chopped too short while pregnant (terrible combo when it comes to self-esteem)… and I ready to feel like myself again. I would like to recognize myself in the mirror. l I took twenty minutes to make my ridiculously grown out haircut look as decent as possible, but I felt more like myself than anything during this whole experience. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Started a virtual mom group because I sure as hell wasn’t paying for one when the best parts of mommy and me class are having a reason to leave the house, and getting coffee aftward with the coolest people in the class. This continues to be a highlight of the week. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’m sure there are many more small instances of self care I’ve accomplished during my time at home thus far, but honestly, my back hurts and my attention span has been worn away to a nub. So, I will leave you feeling deep envy over this photo of my acne-ridden face eating an Uncrustable.