A few months ago, my mom mailed me a tattered folder with e-mails I sent to her twenty-some years ago. I suppose she saved these e-mails because they told a hilarious and self-deprecating tale of my roaring 20’s. I poured over them, fascinated by the stream of quirky boyfriends, crappy jobs, and low-budget escapades.
What hit me the most were my naïve musings on life and my sense of humor. By God, I was hilarious! I was witty! (Also, I was definitely an over-sharer). These e-mails were drenched with vibrant color and lively, sarcastic metaphors. I wanted to hang out with this girl, buy her a drink, and douse myself in her zest for life.
After inhaling these e-mails, I was left with one mournful thought, “What happened to that girl?” I can barely remember her. She’s like a Converse and fluttery-babydoll-dress-wearing ghost from the past. What personality and sparkle she had!
Those e-mails confirmed my long-held suspicion that I have indeed lost my sparkle. I know I’m not the only one. There are gazillions of us out there, momming and adulting as if it were a tireless Olympic event. We take care of everyone; we juggle kids, jobs, mortgage payments, and endless laundry. We’re counselors, maids, butlers, cooks, taxi drivers, and household CEO’s, all day, everyday.
In addition to this litany of impressive job titles, we’re also the masters of the calendar, undoubtedly the most stressful job in the domestic universe. We keep everyone organized, on-time, dressed appropriately, and fed. We make sure Suzy is registered for soccer, Bobby has the $5 for the field trip, Sally’s permission slip is signed, and Johnny makes it to the baseball field by 6 pm. Our minds are constantly calculating and calibrating how to get it all done and still get dinner on the table.
Personally, I’m convinced all this calculating and calibrating has played a large part in dimming my shimmer. Somewhere along the way, I got so exhausted and overwhelmed, the only viable option was auto-pilot. In case you didn’t know, auto-pilot is not sparkly and does not involve any vibrant metaphors.
Auto-pilot means pushing your needs down like a trash compactor, silencing the voices inside your head that scream, “Take care of me, woman!” It might involve forgetting to work out, pushing aside your hobbies, neglecting your wardrobe/personal appearance, or pounding rosé every night until the edges fade a bit.
Truth be told, sometimes we mommas cross the finish line at night like exhausted, slobbery dogs. It’s no wonder our shimmer and shine has gone by the wayside. It’s been meticulously sanded down by years of neglect, sleep deprivation, and hard labor.
So how can we recapture our beloved sparkle? I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that a small amount of self-care goes a long way towards tapping into that vibrant little human that still resides within all of our souls.
3 simple ways to reconnect with our inner sparkle:
1. Take care of our bodies
Fueling our bodies with movement, healthy food, and sleep is the springboard for getting our mojo back. We can exercise, even if it’s just a daily thirty-minute walk. No excuses. If we don’t have time to join a gym, we can find work-outs on Pinterest or have a dance party with our kids. The psychological, physical, and emotional benefits of moving our bodies are too numerous to ignore, as discussed here: Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
We can feed ourselves good food, preferably not out of a box or bag. As author and health advocate Michael Pollan said, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” We can give ourselves the gifts of sleep and kindness. Sleep is truly the foundation of sanity.
As a side note, we can also stop verbally abusing our thighs and stomachs and practice self-acceptance of our miraculous, life-producing bodies.
2. Take care of our minds and spirits
We have to dust ourselves off and remember what our hobbies were back when we had time for hobbies. What brought us joy when we were young and carefree? Let’s do that, and fill our cups with abandon. Tell the mommy guilt to take a hike.
We can be really spicy and try something new that makes butterflies go a-flutter in our bellies, get a new shirt that’s totally impractical, or get a sassy haircut. We can read a book that inspires us and sets our souls on fire.
We can steal some quiet time just for ourselves and spend some time unearthing the sparkle. Meditation or prayer, even for 10 measly minutes a day, is a wonderful way to slow down and get our bearings back. Try this one: Self-Care Meditation for Moms
3. Take care of our relationships
Parenting is so universal; we are all floating in the same turbulent sea of growing our babies from fertilized eggs into self-sufficient humans. At one time or another, we all face the same challenges of crying babies, crabby toddlers, busy school-aged kids, and complicated teenagers. These challenges can wear on our marriages and relationships.
However, we are wired for human connection, and keeping our relationships on solid ground gives us a support system and an outlet for our victories and frustrations. We can schedule a date night or a night out with like-minded mommy friends. We can reconnect with an old friend who’s been on our minds. Laughing and silliness are highly encouraged.
Also, for us married folk, we can make a simple decision to be nice to our spouses, even when we really want to break out the boxing gloves. Basic appreciation goes a long way and carries a self-serving bonus: all that good energy will likely be reflected right smack back at us.
It goes without saying that our most important relationship is with ourselves. We are our own best friends and ultimate sparkle-releasers. We have to give ourselves permission to take care of ourselves as well as we take care of everyone else.
The good news is, this self-care game doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple, deliberate acts of self-care can bring back our shimmer. When we start to take care of ourselves, a lovely thing happens. A waterfall of relief falls over us, as we remember what it is to be an actual human and not just the maid, the cook, the mom. From there, it’s just a matter of keeping the self-care momentum going.
Personally, I’ve decided not to give up on her, that funny wisp of a girl in those frayed e-mails my mom sent. She approached the world with such hope, humor and mischief. I’m convinced she’s still within me, waiting and watching, ready to throw out some solid metaphors and much-needed sparkle.