It's an hour before I usually get up and I just tucked my daughter back in bed. She woke me to tell me that her hair was tickling her neck and a mosquito bite was itching her foot. It's grey and rainy here and the neighborhood is totally quiet but for one bird. I'm sitting next to the bed with my computer perched on top of a pile of clean clothes ready for the suitcase. I've been packing this week for a family vacation.
It is especially easy to be hard on myself about self-care over the summer. Routines in this house are so out of whack while I try to get as much work squeezed in during the kids' screen time, we put dinner off a little longer to finish a backyard game, squeeze in a walk after dinner because it's still light out and try to get a little more work done after cleaning up the kitchen and before passing out in bed. It's funny, I still haven't met the reality that when I get in bed my body is ready for sleep and not a little reading or writing. I often read books one page at a time and find journal pages in the morning that are completely illegible. I'm still learning. Yesterday I was running around finishing errands for our trip while my Mom stayed home with the kiddos. Rushing from place to place and trying to be as efficient as possible, one of those things that's like catnip to my particular mind, that's another post, the thought came to me that self-care looks very different for parents and caregivers. We ought to let ourselves off the hook and do self-care our way. Self-care isn't only the yoga practice, it's the time I set aside for yoga practice. It's not only the bath, it began the moment I thought about what would be a caring thing to do for myself. Yesterday it was asking my Mom to stay with the kids so that I could have some time to get my head wrapped around this upcoming vacation. Today it's staying awake and writing because it's quiet in the house right now and I like writing. Self-care often sounds like a prescribed series of actions to my mind, romantic dates to take myself on. I remind myself that self-care is also an intention, a practice, of listening to myself and staying open to what nourishes me. In the way that care of the other important relationships in my life depend on how much attention I give them, self-care isn't what I do as much as how I do it.