Mom, Neglected

When I was in my twenties, I had a bonafide self-care routine. Self-care wasn't a buzz word then. It wasn't a movement or even a frequented topic. I took care of myself, because duh. No one had to tell me to moisturize, or hydrate, or rest. No one reminded me to decompress or relax. I did whatever I needed to do, on all levels. I ate when I was hungry, I drank when I was thirsty, I slept when I was tired. Motherhood ended my self-care journey. Now I have to check-in with an app to remind me to do anything for myself because I've given up the majority of my cerebellum to thinking (constantly) about my kids and their needs. I am a mom, neglected.

 My heels are cracked. For me, this is an all-time low. Before motherhood, I never so much as had a hangnail. My skin wasn't dry. My cuticles weren't the epithelial comparison of tree bark. My eyebrows were simply magnificent and received a plethora of compliments. My hair was silky smooth. My teeth were pearly white. My eyes were bright, without bags, dark circles, or eye goop. What the hell happened to me?!?!

 I used to shower, and then apply oil before drying off. After that, I would literally sit on a towel and moisturize my entire body with more oil, or body butter, or pretty smelly lotion. There was never any dry skin. And now, there's nothing but dry skin. It's pitiful. The other day, I had a mom-brain duh-piphany: "maybe if i put some lotion on." Are you kidding me? It's like lotion was invented... LAST WEEK!! Where have I been? What's wrong with me? Oh yeah, lost in a mom fog.

 Before the twins, I started to grow my hair out naturally. It was certainly a fad at the time, but I was just exhausted of the hair care routine that was a staple in my life for 15 years. I would pay to have my hair relaxed, blow dried and flat ironed. I would wash it weekly and repeat the heat drying and intense heat flat ironing. I would get it professionally updated every couple of months, and trimmed to keep it flawless. But the process just became too much. Perhaps I was just bored. Either way, I stopped with the chemical and heat treatments and went full on deep conditioning. I co-washed my hair daily and didn't do anything else. This worked for several years.

 Now, nearly six years after the natural hair journey began, my hair is a certifiable tornado of UH UH! It's dry, tangled, and generally unruly. It won't go straight, it won't lay down, it has a mind of its own. The curl pattern seems to be making a choice to rebel. So I decided to adopt a new routine. I applied some argan oil and braided it in the hopes of long term management. Oiling it will lock in the moisture that I've been denying it for so long and braiding it will eventually train the hair to calm the hell down.

 I've braided my hair for three nights in a row, and I swear I have arthritis.

 Do you want to talk about my eyebrows? They. Are. Caterpillars. Two giant caterpillars perched above my eyes to help me express myself without words. I used to pluck them and trim them and groom them several times a week. They were perfect, and everyone told me so. You're lucky if I pluck them semi-annually these days. Ask Tiffany. She was my biggest brow-fan. Now she just shakes her head and rolls her eyes. It's funny. AND. SAD. Mostly sad.

 I haven't put makeup on since before my twins were born. They turned four years old -- a month ago. I still have every bit of it. My guess is that it's near one thousand whole American dollars worth of MAC. I'm sure some of it expired, but I can't even mentally locate where it might be in order to throw it out. There's some kind of makeup in my purse. I don't know how long it's been there, how many purses it's been transferred to and from or why it's even in there. Some eye shadow and a colored lip gloss.

 I used to make jokes about the yoga pant clad messy bun gang of moms loitering to the front of any school. Usually, with a cup of coffee and a small person loitering about her legs. From a distance, I would mock her for smelling like bacon, broccoli, ranch dressing, and BO. But now I'm her. There's plenty of fun to be made, but now I'm on the other side of the fun, laughing at myself in the company of other moms.

 Today, my son's school had a holiday performance. I wore a more casual work shirt, and the same pair of jeans I've donned for this week. I wear them every time I have something to do outside of work hours... for basically the whole week. I also wore my son's flip flops with my (not as badly) cracked heel skin, and un-pedi'd toenails. I'd braided my hair last night, so while it was wavy, the ends were just as unruly as ever. It was kinda in a bun, but mostly not. My glasses have greasy fingerprints on them, and they're a tad crooked because my daughter snatched them off my face and threw them a few times. I'm always in a state of recovery from acne, and I never sleep enough, so dark circles, and under-eye luggage is definite. And in line with the mom crowd, I had a cup of coffee in my hand and two little people running about.

 Being a mom ain't for the weak. It's a hard job that requires unlimited, unconditional love, determination, patience, and creativity. Most of us spend so much time thinking about our kids and our love, determination, patience, and creativity that we forget about ourselves. The priorities do not lie in our appearance, smell, or general friendliness. We need our coffee, our comfort in the form of week-old jeans or yoga pants that double as pajama pants, and we need the chaos of our kids. This is the place where we thrive. We spend years of our life talking to people who can only understand ten percent of what we're saying. Forgive us if our skin is dry, or our eyebrows aren't groomed. You're lucky we're conscious.

Me and My natural hair. Circa 1979.

Me and My natural hair. Circa 1979.

This is me in 2001. Processed hair. Hydrated skin. Groomed brows.

This is me in 2001. Processed hair. Hydrated skin. Groomed brows.

x This is me two weeks ago. Me and my kids were recovering from the contagion: streph throat. I was dead on my feet. See my hair? See my brows? See my look of “I don’t care”? That’s a mom r’there.

xThis is me two weeks ago. Me and my kids were recovering from the contagion: streph throat. I was dead on my feet. See my hair? See my brows? See my look of “I don’t care”? That’s a mom r’there.

Tanisha Ware

(previously posted on BrownSugarBritches.com)

How to Smooth Your Way Into Mommyhood

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There’s a baby coming, bringing with him or her out countless hours of joy … as well as spills, puke and sleepless nights when you’ll be wondering why they won’t stop crying. It’s an emotional roller-coaster, to say the least, but the positives will outweigh the negatives if you make the right preparations. That’s especially important for single mothers-to-be who have no partner to rely on. No matter what your relationship status, keep your head up and follow this advice.

Write a Birth Plan

It’s a document that lets doctors, nurses and midwives know how you would like to give birth, including who is present during labor, what forms of pain relief you allow yourself to use, and what to do with the placenta. The experts at Parents have drawn up a checklist to make it easy for you to create the perfect natal environment, but bear in mind that your preferences may be ignored in the case of an emergency.

Get the Right Gear

A stroller, clothes, diapers: The costs certainly add up. Luckily, an experienced mother with Eco Baby Steps has come up with a list of things that you will definitely need, followed by others that would come in handy. Prioritize and use your baby shower wish list wisely. Plus, the other mothers in your life may have some things left over from raising their children. You may not have to pay much at all if anything.

Prepare Their Room

You want to make sure that you have easy access to everything you need to care for a baby in their room. A designer writing in lifestyle magazine Today suggests keeping diapers, wipes and other changing items to the side of your dominant hand. As for the overall theme, it can be exhausting to choose one, because there are so many options. Start with the furniture, followed by a color palette and decorations to match.

Simplify Your Daily Routine

Now, back to you. Time is of the essence once taking care of the baby becomes your first priority. But your household isn’t going to take care of itself, so you need to streamline your tasks to get them done quickly. The first step is to automate all of your bill-paying so you don’t waste precious time on finances, then find ways to speed up your morning routine and save time on cooking by preparing food in batches.

See a Therapist Now

Even if you’re not dealing with any negative emotions now, they’ll help you determine your susceptibility to postpartum depression based on a number of factors, such as the history of mental illness in your family or incidences of abuse during your own childhood. It’s good to understand your treatment options now just in case you need to see someone later.

Make Self-Care a Priority

Start with the basic elements of overall good health. That means getting some exercise, eating healthy and staying hydrated. Moreover, you should find ways to relieve stress, and there are plenty of ideas to consider, such as taking a walk, practicing yoga, deep breathing or watching the sunrise or sunset. Don’t be afraid to pamper yourself at the spa. You’ve earned it!

Reach Out to Friends and Family

As they say, it takes a village to raise a child. Create your support network now by talking to friends and family about the help you’ll most likely need. That could be someone taking care of the baby, helping with the cooking and cleaning, or taking you to the doctor’s office. There’s always paid help if you can fit it into your budget.

Talk to Other Moms

You’ll find plenty of wisdom and comfort from women who have already been where you’re going, whether it’s advice on putting your baby to sleep or just a shoulder to cry on when the going gets tough. Nowadays, you’ll even find plenty of helpful communities online if there’s no one who can be there for you physically.

It may seem like more than you can handle, but there’s plenty to look forward to, like the baby’s first words, first steps and first day at school. One day, you’ll look back and wish you could do it all again.

Amanda Henderson

Check out more by Amanda at http://safechildren.info/