This Monday Philippa turned four months and yesterday I spent my first full hour away from her. While my husband entertained her by playing maracas and singing I went and got a much needed pedicure. After months of not having some proper me- time it was nice to spend an hour not thinking about Pip (ok, who am I kidding I totally thought about her but just not the whole time as I do normally!) and instead open a magazine, read a little and feel my shoulders drop a few inches in relaxation. I really needed that hour, and I’ve realised that I probably need to have some more me time here and there, just to feel like myself again and not “only” like the mum to a tiny happy baby who demands your full attention 24/7 (almost).
Because Pip wakes up three or four times a night to feed, and isn’t a great napper during the day, four months of sleep deprivation has definitely caught up with me. It makes me a bit wired even though I’m tired and stupidly enough I haven’t managed to take more than ONE fifteen minute nap since she arrived as much as I tell myself I must try to do it daily. I went into the salon with this cape of tiredness hanging on my shoulders, quite incapable to take a deep breath and relax, but I left an hour later still feeling a bit exhausted but somehow also pumped and ready to go and kiss my little baby’s cheeks while showing my fresh feet off to my dear husband. He thought they looked very good too, “wow was that only $55? She did a great job didn’t she” was his verdict.
To put it plainly I just needed that time of not having any responsibility over another human being. To not be the one in charge and to not make any decisions about anything from nappy rash cream to wether or not I should make another attempt to feed Pip without the nipple shield or how and where I should try to make her nap. As you can hear it was pretty darn blissful and my goal with this holiday is to spend at least an hour each day, if not longer, when I only do something for me. Even if it’s just going to the coffee shop to get my favourite custard and raisin pastry and eat it sitting at a table overlooking the street so I can get a dose of people watching in. Twenty minutes might be enough.
I can’t say that I’m doing it particularly hard and that I really “need” this time alone desperately. I know I only have one baby, and a happy one at that. I really am so happy spending all my time with my little girl but at the same time I think that if I don’t take the opportunity to just focus on myself a little now when I can I might start to feel a little lost. Lying here in bed looking at my bright red toenails I feel like that hour really did gave me so much, not only nicer feet (I still feel sorry for the poor lady who had to sort them out!) but a bit of my old pre baby self back.
My husband is a brilliant father (who’s peekaboo is the best giggle inducer in Pip!) but as many other farmers wives know, the working days on a farm are incredibly long and so now, when we’re on holiday, it’s the first time that we truly share the same amount of time with Pip and it’s so wonderful for both of us, and for her. He gets to spend extra time chatting to her while she waves her little hands in his face, feeling his beard and forming their own little bond while I get to have my toenails painted and chat to the salon ladies about the brilliance of The Crown (you have to watch it!!). It was the perfect afternoon in so many ways. We got to spend time together as a family, but I also got to spend some time being just me. Not my newly established mumma-me who has no idea what she’s doing.
I listened to a podcast the other day where a lady was saying how she thought this whole “self care” thing had been taken way too far and that mums needed to just accept that it isn’t about them anymore, that we can survive without getting our hair done or having good eyebrows. That we shouldn’t complain about not having much time to pamper ourselves or about not getting any rest. It made me feel a bit iffy about booking a long massage to address the knots in my shoulders from endless hours of breastfeeding or my desire to go and get my nails painted brightly red by someone who’s not going to make the polish go all over my feet like I would have.
But then her comments made me really angry. Why (?!) shouldn’t all the mums I know who have three kids and are doing it a bit hard take that time to look after themselves? It’s not as if it makes them any worse mums if they have good eyebrows or wear make up that took longer than two minutes to apply. I for one know that if I have made a tiny bit more of an effort with the way I look or with taking that time to get a massage (which I actually haven’t done yet but very much still plan on doing!!) I feel like I’m a better mum, and wife. It has nothing to do with my appearance really, it has to do with feeling like myself. If a bit of mascara is going to make me feel less tired or an hour of someone skilled in back kneading goes to town on mine is going to make me feel recharged and ready for another week of not having a baby break then I’m all for it. We need that self care just like our babies needs their mums to feel good about themselves and hence maybe be more present and happy.
I love my darling Pippa more than anything. She truly is my everything and yet I don’t want to loose myself in the process of being a mum. My husband is great at realising that he, as most men, do get so much more of a break from thinking about family things and babies. They leave the house to go to work or for a surf and as much as we might pop into their minds their baby is not constantly in theirs. And they don’t dream about dropping their baby like I did last night either. They are much better (for obvious reasons) to take time for themselves. It comes natural when you’re not the one at home and when they, like in my husbands case, go for that’s surf they come back recharged after having exercised some good self care too. He might not have got his toenails painted but he got time to be just him, not the dad who works his butt off to provide for his family.
Anyway! I hope I haven’t sounded pretentious here, I know I’m not really a long time mum who knows what it’s like to have two, three or four kids at home having to do school lunches and take kids to soccer practise and that having a bit of self care time might be hard to find. I can only say what I feel from my own perspective as a very new mum still trying to figure everything out.
I’ve been rambling on here but to sum these rambles up a little: if you at all feel like me and think you might be in need of a little bit of self care, go and get a pedicure mumma, or a massage, a coffee by yourself or take a bath one night if your babies allow. You (and perhaps your toes?) need that hour of pampering, and you deserve it without feeling even a tiny bit bad about it. Open that magazine and read about Brangelina and let your mind wander not only to what you will feed your little one, but to things that matter to you that isn’t related to the most important thing in the world (your baby, regardless of their age). I can’t say I am an authority on this whole mum thing only having been one for four months but before having Pip I wouldn’t have thought a bit of alone time could make such a big difference to my happiness. But it really did and for me this pedicure truly was about more than getting my toenails painted red. It was just the kind of self care I needed and I plan to do it at little bit more often. I hope you will too!