Growing up a twin, I often wondered how my mom got everything done. I never heard her complain. She never spoke of needing a break. Was she a superhero, or was she pushing through because that is what she thought being a good mom was all about? When I became a mom almost eight years ago, I knew I wanted to be a good mom, but I never signed up to be a superhero.
Of course, becoming a mom was the answer to my heartfelt prayer. It is a prayer that so many women are praying for today. In 2014, I suffered an ectopic pregnancy that resulted in losing one of my fallopian tubes. Six months later, I was pregnant again at the age of 35. There were complications at 19 weeks, and I prayed every day until I delivered a healthy baby boy at 39 weeks.
The stress and anxiety I experienced throughout my pregnancy continued after the birth. When my husband and I left the hospital, he jokingly asked, “So, are they just going to let us go home with a baby?”
“Of course,” I said, “We are his parents!”
My confident response was fueled by the thought of knowing that I was a great mom because I carried my baby full term. I kept him safe. But as the months passed, the sleepless nights and sore breasts started to take their toll. I thought about all the television commercials depicting happy and well-rested moms. I thought about how my own mom had twins and never complained. I talked to my mom friends, and they said that moms don’t get breaks.
So why was I feeling guilty about needing a break?
I knew then that mom life would be different for me. I didn’t want to lose myself in motherhood. The Saturday morning hair appointments continued. I resumed my spa club membership. I traveled out of the country with my husband and my girls—we had childcare. I had mastered being a full-time pharmacist, entrepreneur, wife, and mom. Life was good…until it changed.
I became a widowed mom overnight, and then came the pandemic. I never wanted to be Superwoman, but I somehow became Wonder Woman. I began to wonder. How would I raise a son without his dad? How would I hold it all together while everything was falling apart? The answer was simple. I wouldn’t. It was time to hang up my cape. I didn’t have to do everything. I was human, not this superhero that society expected me to be as a mom.
We are often praised for our ability to multitask and handle stressful situations. We juggle careers, families, relationships, and social lives while trying to maintain a semblance of sanity. The pressure to hold it all together can affect our health. As a Black woman, I know that heart disease is the number one killer of women, and I wanted to be here to raise my son. It became essential to prioritize self-care.
For many women, the idea of practicing self-care can seem selfish. We’re conditioned to put the needs of others before our own, and the thought of prioritizing our well-being can make us feel guilty. I had to realize that self-care is not a luxury—it’s a necessity. When I care for myself, I have more energy, patience, and compassion to give to others. Today, self-care for me looks like establishing boundaries, asking for help, and using my PTO.
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