Count on You
A guest post by author Anya Wyers
In a world with so many things to do, kids to manage and pandemics to worry about—just kidding, thank god there’s only one of those right now—let’s find one thing to count on that will help you focus on yourself when things are tough.
I welcomed the weight of my youngest son’s body over mine when he wanted a snuggle after falling down yesterday. I stood, embracing all thirty-seven pounds of him on me, holding him, trying to make it all feel better. Taking a moment to just be with him, standing in the hallway to the kitchen, the two of us, quiet.
It reminded me of when he was a baby, when either of my kids were babies, and we spent hours cuddled, nursing, sleeping. When all we had to do was stay alive, shower every once in a while, help them eat, sleep and grow. I struggled with my maternity leave the first time around. It was hard for me to acknowledge the value of the work I was doing keeping a tiny human alive, I was constantly wanting to do more, more, more. Clean the house, walk the dog, shower, be presentable, cook all the food. Be happy.
So much has changed since then. And at the same time, not a lot has changed for me. I’m certainly not on maternity leave any more, and the role I’m playing is more of a referee instead of human milk machine. But since this pandemic hit so close to home and we, in BC, were ordered first to stay home and, now, to social distance whenever possible, I went through a phase where I felt as though I needed to prove just how much I could accomplish while home with my kids, my work pushed aside, full-time mom on duty so that my husband could work—from home—and support our family.
I know that we are lucky, in the grand scheme of things. We are in a position where I am able to get my work done while the kids have quiet time and after they go to bed, on weekends and when I stick them in front a movie that they can agree on so that I can write. There are other families, close to us even, that have to juggle working from home and parenting, and my hat goes off to them, it really does. Having to work from home with kids around, while cobbling together some form of home-learning, feeding everyone and keeping everyone home. Then there’s those that have not been lucky enough to work the whole time, that have lost their jobs or had to take a forced leave, with financial support from the government that I’m sure wasn’t enough to meet the earnings that they’re used to. I’m exhausted just thinking about it, and it’s not even my reality.
I’m an overthinker at the best of times, and I can’t help but wonder where that need comes from—the one to present ourselves as these perfect moms, someone who isn’t struggling to stay home during a pandemic. That enjoys every second of maternity leave, of motherhood. That fits back into pre-pregnancy jeans just by giving birth and breastfeeding. I know you’re out there, and it’s okay. There’s part of me that’s just jealous.
Who is it that we’re all trying to please?
Who was I trying to please?
It certainly wasn’t myself. Because since I’ve shifted my focus, embraced that my jeans fit better a couple of sizes bigger, that my red cheeks sans makeup and frizzy hair thrown up in a scrunchie not only feel better, but feel more like me, I have been happier.
I have been happy.
As far as this pandemic is concerned, I’m still figuring things out. I’ve been one of the rule-followers mentioned above, opening my bubble to those closest to me only, first and foremost being the babysitter so that my husband and I—who have no family to help nearby—could have a break.
I am reminded to care for myself, every once in a while, you see. Often when it’s too late and the yelling/self-sabotage/more yelling happens. But in these times that are honestly just so fucked up, I don’t know how to prioritize anything anymore.
How do we prioritize ourselves, ever?
The short answer is, I don’t know.
And that’s okay. I know that I am happiest when I hold myself to standards that are my own and no one else’s. Even when those standards have shifted—name one thing for me that hasn’t shifted lately—which they do every day.
So, tell me. What is one thing that you can do for yourself, and yourself alone, right now?
Don’t think too hard.
The answers are right in front of you.
Drink a glass of water?
Step outside or take a walk?
Stretch or do something active.
Tidy up that mess that’s been staring at you all day, and has been bothering you every time you look at it for the last week. We all have those piles, no judgment here.
Close your eyes and take a deep, cleansing breath.
Put your hand to your heart and appreciate this moment in which you are alive.
Now what if you chose one thing—either from the above or something small that you could do entirely for yourself—that you could promise to do every time you remember?
[I’d say every day, but I know I suck at daily things, other than eating and breathing and, sadly, the aforementioned yelling. Though sometimes I do manage to take a day or two off from that.]
Do you think you could do that?
For me, I try to take a deep, slow breath whenever I start to feel overwhelmed. It really helps, you guys. So much! In the ten seconds that it takes to breathe in as deeply as I can and release that breath with intention to ground myself, I feel so much better. Sometimes I don’t yell, sometimes I even find that I smile.
And in a world where we have so many things to do, so many different ways to better ourselves, opinions to hear and chores to do, if you can find that one thing to steady your feet and ground your thoughts, I think it will help you, us all, remember what matters.
I might just change my mind and hug my toddler when I feel the need to take that calming breath.
Though I guess I cannot always count on him for a quiet moment. Between screaming, running and getting his hands on anything he’s not supposed to, he’s a bit wild for the times I need a reminder to care for myself.
Best to count on me.
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