I’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.
“If you love yourself, why don’t you get cool stuff for yourself too?”
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.
These 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.
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?”
Quickly I realized:
So I wondered:
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?
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.
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.”
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.
In particular, here’s the thing I most appreciate about Aristotle:
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.
Aristotle even made a big point about disagreeing with Socrates about pleasure and 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.
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.
Your “final ends” should always be:
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:
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.