In fact, my six children do a fake vomiting impression whenever they hear those two little words, probably because they got so sick of its predecessor — that classic analogy meant to justify my taking a break that went like this, “Mommy has to put her own oxygen mask on first before she can help you put on yours.” So now they officially refuse to travel on an airplane with me. (By the way, these same kids also signed a petition to prevent my talking about myself in the third person, but that’s another blog entirely!)
So how did the pendulum swing so far in the other direction for females? You may recall not too long ago, most mothers put everyone else first, to the point of truly neglecting themselves, making motherhood synonymous with martyrdom. Gradually women learned it was okay to sometimes say, “No!” and that was kind of a nice, happy medium. Because sometimes we still said, “Yes!”
But now it’s gotten to the point where nobody shows up to help in an emergency because we can’t cope with any crisis until we’ve practiced good self-care. Imagine a horrible earthquake occurring, but before the American Red Cross sends assistance, they must slather a soothing beauty balm onto their skin!
The next time you hang up the phone or part ways with someone while casually saying, “Take care of yourself now!” be aware that you’ve just granted someone permission to go get a mani/pedi, watch a soap opera and eat chocolate bonbons. That’s because “Self-Care” is loosely defined to encompass anything from aromatherapy (using essential oils!) to literally running away from life.
Join me now as we listen in on a “Self-Care, Self-Help, Self-Realized, Do-It-Yourself Support Group” in progress. (And if you think that has too many “Self” words in it, congratulations you catch on fast!)
Leader: Take out your Self-Care journals and let’s make a list of what we need to have in our Self-Care kits. And then let’s take a Selfie holding them. Selma, please read your list?
Selma: I’m a Pisces so I gravitate to water. Ready? Bath Salts, Bath Bombs, Bath Oils, Bath Bubbles, Bath Gels, Bath Sponges, Bath Scrubs, Bath Soaps…oh and you should put an actual Bathtub in your kit if it can fit.
Leader: Definitely! Sonia, your list please?
Sonia: I went the Mindful route. Is that okay?
Leader: Oh goody! Mindfulness and Self-Care go together like bagel and cream cheese, which you should also have in your kit by the way. Please continue…
Sonia: Mindful Yoga mat, Mindful Meditation book, Mindful Crystal, Mindful Meditation CD, Mindful Sunscreen, Mindful Money, Mindful Bra, Mindful Pillow, Mindful Birth Control, Mindful Michael Kors Purse, Mindful Nutella…
Leader: Terrific. You’ve discovered the main secret to Self-Care — just put the word “Mindful” in front of anything you desire and it’s automatically gonna be healthy and get our approval.
Sonia: Except “Mindful Children.” Somehow it doesn’t work with kids.
Leader: Whatever. Now let’s all recite the Self-Care first commandment together. Ready? “Caring for myself is not self-indulgent, it IS self-preservation.”
Suzanne: What about, “I think, therefore I am?”
Leader: Definitely not. You’re in the wrong place. The Self-Aware Support Group meets in the room down the hall.
Stacey: How about, “You can’t love someone else until you can love yourself?”
Leader: Sorry, you don’t belong here either. You’ll find the Self-Esteem Support Group meets in this same room but on Thursdays.
Stephanie: I have a question. I keep a diary, light lots of candles, get hand massages, eat avocado toast, go cloud-watching (I once saw one shaped like Gwyneth Paltrow!), unplug my cellphone daily and breathe deeply while smelling roses, but still I’m completely miserable. Are some people just not good at this Self-Care stuff?
Leader: Security! Come quick! Code 5, I repeat Code 5! A Self-Sabotager has snuck into Self-Care! Calgon, take her away!
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Self-Care is completely responsible for society’s narcissistic behavior or that we’re all returning to the “Me” generation, but perhaps “Self-Care” could include things like volunteering at a retirement center, adopting a homeless pet, buying the guy behind you a Starbucks, and leaving a comment on my blog. Now wouldn’t those things also make YOU feel good??
— Stephanie Lewis
Stephanie D. Lewis regularly contributes to Huffington Post as well as pens a humor blog, “Once Upon Your Prime,” where she tries to “Live Happily Ever Laughter.” She’s also a regular contributor to Jewlarious where she writes zany Jewish humor and was named one of 2014 Voices of the Year by BlogHer. Her 2008 book, Lullabies & Alibis, is the tale of marriage, motherhood, mistakes and madness. As a single mother of six, she knows a lot about the madness. She’s supervised potty training and driver’s training simultaneously. Too many accidents. A live-in housekeeper? Nah, she’ll take a live-in psychotherapist.