Taking Care of Yourself Makes You a Better Mom
By Aviva Cohen, LCSW
I can’t go workout because if I do that is time I am stealing from my baby. I guess I can get my haircut once he goes to college. A pedicure is an indulgence. I can’t relax and have fun if she’s at home waiting for me.
And on it goes! I must have missed the memo they pass out in labor and delivery that says once I bring my new baby home, self care isn’t important and I no longer have any needs or wants.
A patient asked me today why when she is at work lately do people keep looking at her belly and asking her about the baby? Why don’t they ask me how I was able to write that extensive brief in one afternoon without any help? Why isn’t anyone asking me what I am going to have for dinner, or where I plan to celebrate for my next anniversary? Where did I go? Why don’t they see ME?
The answer is simple. Once the baby comes, or is on the way, the focus is on the baby. How did she sleep? Did you think she is warm enough? I think he seems hungry, don’t you? Family and friends mean well, but when they come over they only want to see and hold the baby. They aren’t too curious to know how the mom slept last night or how painful it was to breastfeed at the last feeding. It isn’t anyone’s fault that they forget about the mom, but I do blame the mom if she forgets about herself!
Being a mother means being a nurturer. It is the mother’s job to hold, feed, bathe, and comfort. The problem is that often times the mother forgets to nurture herself. I am not suggesting that every mom needs to get a massage daily or get her hair blown out and makeup done each morning. All I am saying is that the mother is the epicenter of the house. If Mom isn’t ok, nobody in the house is ok. Going for a run, taking a yoga class, reading a good book, watching a great television program are not acts of selfishness. They are signs of humanity! Becoming a mother only deepens a woman, it enhances her qualities, and allows her to evolve into an even more incredible version of herself.
A human being is a kaleidoscope of many things. Most women are daughters, friends, siblings, and professionals. They are not defined by one of these roles, but by all of them. Becoming a mother is a gift and a privilege, but it is not a prison sentence. A new mom that denies herself any pleasures is denying her baby a happy and healthy mom. Becoming a mother is a life changing magical experience, but it is also hard, exhausting, and frustrating. This is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Take the time to make this journey enjoyable and pleasant as it only happens for a finite period of time.
Meet a friend for coffee or binge watch a series on Hulu. Take an extra- long bath, go shopping online, read a new cookbook from back to front, or even read an entire Cosmo and People magazine in one sitting. Allow room for yourself, and the things that make you smile. The phrase has always been, “a happy wife, makes a happy life.” I would like to amend that to, “a happy mom keeps the home calm.”
Aviva Cohen received her master’s degree in social work from Loyola University. Her specific area of focus is perinatal loss, fertility, Postpartum Depression, and work/life balance issues. Through her own personal struggles, Aviva has a depth of perspective in the area of pregnancy and loss that many do not. Aviva co-founded The Blossom Method in 2013 as a center for moms to connect and share their struggles and private pain.
The Blossom Method is a therapy practice in the heart of Chicago offering support, encouragement and hope to women and couples facing challenges as they start or grow their families. We provide a unique combination of therapeutic and counseling services, as well as education seminars, events, and one-on-one or group support.