As I explore unconventional ways of self care, I think of my mom.
I’m squeezing my eyes tight. Pursing my lips, trying really hard to remember what my mom was like when I was a kid. My mom was a nurse and I remember quite fondly her getting home from working second shift and I would climb out of bed and head out to the kitchen.
She would look up at me from tired eyes behind glasses sliding part way down on the bridge of her nose. Her nose, that I now realize, is pretty identical to my nose. She also often had a pair of readers propped in her silver hair atop her head and another pair hanging around her neck on one of those weird glasses chains.
She didn’t complain about me getting out of bed. I don’t remember us talking. I just remember her pouring me a bowl of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and we would sit there together crunching. She would then tuck me back into bed with bedtime prayers and I would run my fingers through her hair one last time before she would leave the room.
I also remember other snippets of her reading aloud to me. I have memories of her always leaving her coffee sitting all over the house, and it would get cold and she would end up reheating it again and AGAIN.
Perhaps you have similar memories of your own mom. We learn so much from our moms just by observing them and being with them. But do YOU remember your mom practicing self care? Nope. Not really. Me neither.
But when I think a bit deeper, I can remember her getting maybe a bit exasperated especially when our house was full of me and my younger biological sister and three extra foster children. I remember one day she took her coffee and a book into the bathroom and barricaded the door. She didn’t have to say it…we knew that if we knocked on that door it better be for a good reason.
I can remember hearing her late at night after we were all in bed running the sewing machine in the kitchen. Quiet humming. Stop. Click click. Humming again. I recall waking up in the morning to find my mom out in the vegetable garden covered in mud on her face, her hands and knees. She must have been weeding or digging up root vegetables.
If I continue to think further I can remember waking up from Sunday naps and finding my mom “missing”. She would often return shortly after I had woken up, leaning on her walking stick. Her cheeks pink from a hike in the woods with a handful of wild mint in her other hand. I can also remember her saddling up one of our horses and setting out into the woods. I could hear her singing slightly off-key as it echoed through the Tioga County mountains.
But do YOU remember your mom practicing self care? Probably not in the ways that we think of self care.
Every person’s self care is their own thing. What fills us up and makes us breathe easy…these things are self care.
Sometimes it is the things that remind us of our childhood self, or recalling fond memories.. Sometimes we don’t know why something gives us life, it just does.
As I ponder if my mom ever gave herself the gift of self care, I realize that she did. She stole moments away to soak in the bath tub even with us racing around the house like hooligans outside the bathroom door. She gave up precious hours of sleep to sneak out for a hike in the woods on a Sunday or wake up before us to be outside digging in the dirt. All along I thought she was “working”, but I think she was really grounding herself.
How could she get more grounded than with her hands and knees in the dirt or her feet climbing over tree roots on the mountainside? Could she feel more alive than on the back of a horse? Or creating something with her hands with only the hum of the sewing machine singing at night to keep her company?
I think by this definition, self care is anything that helps us to feel alive. My mom set an amazing example showing it cannot possibly be selfish to embrace self care, in fact, it’s completely necessary.
How are you caring for yourself to make you feel alive?
Julia Walsh, Licensed Massage Therapist, has been helping clients manage chronic pain, recover from injuries, and prevent injuries since 2007. She has gained experience in a variety of settings over the past six years ranging from spas, to chiropractic clinic, to massage center, to ivy league poolside to her own private office. Combining her experiences in all of these settings, she is excited to serve a broad client base with her unique skills. Her passion for teaching self-care led her to develop a Foam Rolling Workshop and a Raindrop Therapy workshop. Because of an active lifestyle, Julia loves to connect with clients who also strive to live active lives.