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Mom Self Care Should Be Non-Negotiable

Mom Self Care Should Be Non-NegotiableI’m a big believer that mom self care and self love should be non-negotiable. As a mother, I learned this overtime. Here’s my story.

A week or so ago I gave my 3 ½ year old son ( Ari Salmansohn ) some new pajamas – fun ones – with golden robots and lots of space creatures from Star Wars emblazoned upon them.

“Wow!” he squealed with delight, when I removed them from the bag. “I love these!”

“And I thought you would,” I responded. “I saw them – and remembered how much you loved putting together that Star Wars Lego set!”

“Thank you!” Ari hugged one of my legs tightly.

This is one of Ari’s trademark hugs he gives whenever I’m standing. He’s soooooo excited to hug me that he doesn’t want to wait for me to bend down to give me that hug! He just reaches up high and squeezes one of my legs. So cute!

“You know,” I told him, “I think about you a lot when you’re in daycare – and not with me during the day – because I love you so much. Today I just saw these pajamas. I thought to myself, ‘I bet Ari would love these’! And because I love you – I thought, ‘Hmmmm….I should get them for Ari – I bet that would make him smile!’”

“Did you get anything for yourself today?” he asked me.

“Um…no,” I answered.

“Don’t you love yourself?” he persisted.

“Um…yes.”

“If you love yourself, why don’t you get cool stuff for yourself too?”

Yes, out of the mouths of babes came this self love reminder.

I gotta say, ever since I became a mom, I’m incredibly watchful of my funds.

In the past, while I was single and offspring-free, journalists used to call me, “Carrie Bradshaw meets Deepak Chopra.”  I loved to quip back, “And… I have Carrie’s shoe collection – not Deepak’s.”

It was a quip based in truth. Sometimes I’d watch an episode of “Sex In The City” and recognize a pair of Carrie’s shoes from my own collection.

Well, what a difference 9 months of pregnancy can make!

ari salmansohnThese days I have more of a Deepak Chopra shoe collection – that is if Deepak likes to wear sensibly-priced shoes with sensibly-sized heels.

Gone are my shopping indulgences at Barney’s. In their place are Barney the dinosaur videos.

Gone are taking hours off from work for a pedicure appointment or a deep tissue facial. In their place are pediatrician appointments and face painting for Ari.

And I know I’m not the only mom to sacrifice cashmere sweaters for cash in the bank for my child’s college education.

It’s very rare I buy myself anything these days.

Basically, now that I’m a mom, I’ve stopped taking time for pampering myself or doing basic self care.

I know many moms who feel and behave similarly. They put their kids first in how they spend both time and money.

In fact, in talking to my mom friends, it’s even more of the norm for a mom to forget about self care. They put their kids first – in all ways – always.

However, my son Ari’s deductive reasoning for WHY I should be splurging on myself got my mind spinning.

Again Ari’s specific question:

“If you love yourself, why don’t you get cool stuff for yourself too?”

I wondered:

  • Was my lack of prioritizing spoiling myself with cool stuff simply a matter of budgeting?
  • Or was it linked to a deeper issue – like: “Oooops! I’m so busy loving my son, I’m forgetting to love myself too!”

Quickly I realized:

Being generous to myself – and practicing basic habits of self love – should be non-negotiable for moms.

So I wondered:

  • How much does splurging on fun fashion items (or anything which exists solely to bring sheer delight) have to do with materialism?
  • And how much does it have to do with expressing self-love? Or even a form of self-respect?

After all, isn’t dressing up in beautiful clothing and elegantly-heeled shoes a way to show I value myself enough to treat my body like a stylishly designed temple?

As a new mom, I know one thing about self care is true:

  • My idea of what brings “true happiness” has been updated plentifully since I now have a family.

Basically, I no longer feel that same strong magnetic pull to seek a happiness-high from high-heels.

For me spending time with my family is what brings me my highest joy.

I just plain ol’ don’t need so much from the outside world – now that I have my personal world of a family to nourish my spirit from the inside out.

At the same time… I can build a good case arguing that “Splurging Feeds The Spirit Too.”  And so could philosophers – even my favorite one, Aristotle.

As many of my readers know, I named my son Ari as a “wink” to the Greek philosopher Aristotle – who I’ve written about in past essays and in books like “Prince Harming  Syndrome” and “The Bounce Back Book.”

Back in his day, Aristotle shared his beliefs for why so many people are so unhappy. One of his top beliefs: too many people confuse pleasure with happiness.

Aristotle’s views on happiness quickly expressed…

Ari Salmansohn 1. “Pleasure” (aka: “hedonia” ) is about immediate gratification of the body or ego.

It’s hit and run joy – superficial and fleeting.

Basically, Aristotle defined “pleasure” as impulse-driven  hedonism – and explained how it doesn’t feed the most important part of a human: our soul (core self).  

Aristotle expressed a lot of tough love warnings about “pleasure” – going so far as to say:

“The many, the most vulgar, seemingly conceive the good and happiness as pleasure, and hence they also like the life of gratification. Here they appear completely slavish, since the life they decide on is a life for grazing animals.”

2.  “True happiness” (aka: eudaimonia ) is what truly feeds your soul (core self) – thereby it lasts a good long time –  as long as you last – because it’s about growing your true potential.

Basically, “true happiness”  is about doing habits and/or spending time with people that stimulate, inspire  and support you into blooming into your highest self.

Often this requires “delayed gratification” – because you have to put in the extra effort of discipline and strong character – before “self gratification” kicks in.

But when it does, it’s amped up far higher than mere “pleasure” can ever take us.  

“True happiness” is about recognizing that your soul (core self) – not your body or ego – is your ultimate g-spot for happiness.  The word “daimon” found within “eudaimonia” actually loosely translates into “ideal potential.”  

Aristotle expressed many tough love reminders about how our “final ends” for life should always be to aim ourselves towards becoming our “ideal potential” – embracing habits of good character and consistent excellence.

I love Aristotle’s above philosophies on pleasure vs happiness.

In particular, here’s the thing I most appreciate about Aristotle:

  • He’s not a prude about pleasure/hedonism.

Aristotle even admits that the soul needs sensory pleasure to be fully happy.

He wrote a lot about how we humans are pulsating with sensory needs. And our soul needs to be stimulated with sensory sensations (aka: sheer pleasure for pleasure’s sake) to fully thrive.

Ari SalmansohnAristotle even made a big point about disagreeing with Socrates about pleasure and desire.

Socrates believed we humans could be happy – if not happier – by isolating ourselves from desire.

Here’s what Socrates had to say:

“To want nothing is divine; to want little is the nearest possible approach to the divine life.”

My philosopher buddy Aristotle disagreed.

  • He argued that although we can live without satisfying our sensory pleasures, we cannot live well.

Why?

  • Because our soul also needs the stimulation of pleasure to feel fully alive and perky.

Aristotle believed we need sensory pleasures in order to live “the good life” –which is much different than simply plain ol’ living period!

According to Aristotle, you cannot live “the good life” merely by satisfying your bare minimum: food, shelter, warmth, etc.

Your soul also needs the thrill of sensory stimulations – with 2 addendums.

  • They must be pursued within “moderation.”
  • Plus, these sensory stimulations should be viewed  as mere “means” to achieve “true happiness” – and never be confused for your “final ends” for a happy life.

Your “final ends”  should always be:

  • Aim yourself at habits and people which support you becoming your soul’s highest potential.

With all this in mind, I wondered what would Aristotle the philosopher have to say about what Ari my son said about self love and self care:

  • “If you love yourself, why don’t you get cool stuff for yourself too?”

My Freshly Thought Conclusions on Self Care and Self Love As A Mom:

We parents know our kids love to play, laugh, and get new fun toys! Well, our soul needs this soul-pampering and soul-nourishing too. All work and no play is soul-depleting.   We wouldn’t want our kids to live  a pleasure-deprived existence.

Everyone talks about how important it is to be your own best friend. Well, I believe we have to be our own best mothers or best fathers, too.

We must apply our maternal and paternal instincts to ourselves – and nurture ourselves with self care and self love – in all ways – always.

The key is to indulge both our kids and ourselves within Aristotle’s recommended moderation zone and with the proper perspective.

In other words…

Yes, it’s nice to have money and all the fun and frivolous things money can buy. But it’s key to make sure you never lose focus on all the meaningful things that money cannot buy.

Think happier. Think calmer.

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(8) comments

Karla

He’s soooooo cute, wise and with big heart!!!! I don’t have children but when I think about it if my son told me that I just be more in love of him! 😉
It’s amazing how you’re teaching him about love and I think when you receive this kind of answers is the reward of all your good work to the world! Hugs from Mexico.
🙂

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    notsalmon

    Hi Karla – Thanks for sharing all the way from Mexico to my home in NYC! 🙂 My son has been such a good teacher for me! I’ve learned a lot from both my “Ari’s” – my son and the Greek Philosopher!! Big hug! xo

    Reply
Anna

Wow Karen! When my kids, now teenagers, were that young I can remember the times I spent with just them. My daughter when she was a baby I use to rock her in my rocking chair before going to bed at night and again when she woke up in the middle of the night. I remember one night as I was putting her to bed that she told me she could see fairies in her room. I would ask her where they were and she would point to me where they were. Children are wonderful teachers for us adults because they are so intuned with the nonmatterial things. Way to go Arti and you are sure a cutie. Any Mom would be proud.:)

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jenniferhillside

Thank you so much for sharing this story and the beautiful photo, Karen! (Ari is so wise!) These are important principals that are easy to confuse and forget – especially as a mom, when putting others first comes so naturally and feels right. As we mature, I think it becomes easier to decipher what feeds our souls and we have more courage to take the steps to get it. This makes the difference between pleasure and true happiness easier to see and act upon. (p.s. I’ve been reading your books for 15 years and love them!)

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    notsalmon

    Hi Jennifer – Thanks for this thoughtful note! Happy to find another mom who relates! 🙂 I’ve also definitely found as I’ve gotten older I have truly stopped chasing after the wrong things and wrong people – and woken up more and more to where true happiness can be found! It does take some courage to aim oneself in a new direction – but the happiness I’ve found by doing so is so much more profoundly real and enjoyable! xoox

    Reply
Li-ling

I am in great agreement that we do need to look after and nurture ourselves a whole lot more that we would ever be inclined to. Perhaps it is the nature of our society that has always instilled the idea that to think of one’s self makes for a selfish person, when in fact, if you always put yourself last behind everyone else, it would not be long before there is a whole lot of resentment.

I do question the gift-ing sharing aspect though…Although I think it’s ever so sweet that Ari, insisted that you had to get something for yourself to represent your own self-love, a little voice inside my head (perhaps completely wrong and completely off) wonders whether that link between a material gift and love is ‘accurate’.

I know that my own daughter has valued much much more the heartfelt notes and messages that we have written to her, much more beyond the actual objects that we have bought.

Definitely agree with your conclusion that “it’s key to make sure you never lose focus on all the meaningful things that money cannot buy”.

Either way – what a sweetie you have there!

Reply
Kurt Wilkens

Dear Karen, I love when you say “But it’s key (Key) to make sure you never lose focus on all the meaningful things that money cannot buy. Emmet Fox in a small pamphlet called The Golden Key put out by Unity in Lee’s Summit, Missouri talks about The Golden Key. The idea is to use an affirmation any time you have a difficulty. He suggests I am a child of God. A friend told me using affirmations is like a loving mother affirming her child exemplified on your webpage/kudos to you and your son. On page 372 in his reader Around the Year Emmet Fox writes God is boundless Love no complexes or neuroses; no fears or doubts; no old dark things Always All the Best Kurt

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Yazminh AB

LOVE this, Karen! Must share w/someone in my life who always mixes up “pleasure” vs. “happiness,” with on-cue results (not good). Love your title’s message, and your personal parenting story. You’re the awesomest! <3 🙂

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