An Ode: To self-care
The sun is shining when I come into the room. This little room that houses my desk and calls to me each morning.
The winter sun is shy today but my heart is an eager light ready to get to work. My cup is full of warm liquid and my mind feels open. Slowly, the door creaks open and a little honey colored faced peers up at me. I know that the time to be here is not now but when.
Self-care is a soft song.
That we forget until we feel our bellies rumbling of neglect.
How do we hold the longing at bay so long?
This past January marks the almost third year of mom journey and it finds me no closer to answers about anything. Instead, it has been a lot of fumbling in the dark and unlearning and learning. As someone who was almost 30 when she had her first kid and was use to academic and/or corporate work structure, motherhood for me has been a slow and sometimes painful reorganization of life and my thoughts about productivity, creative and self-care.
How easily and with a slight shift of a hand
The shackles and cervices long neglected come visible.
And yet you notice life still streams out of the broken places.
I could not even tell you any of my dreams and goals because I probably did not have any except to be vaguely successful. Now as a mother I struggle with understanding who I am as this new but old version of myself.
Navigating care of a home, of a toddler, of a marriage, of a daughter, of a creative is not easy for me. I have very few sane examples to draw on in life and often find myself gravitating towards extremes of busy or wanting to be busy. I feel like I want to do so much but find myself doing very little because life really doesn’t flow in a way that allows large chunks of time to be a super mom. Most days, I have to settle for good enough or trying.
“What does it mean to love yourself, when you scarcely have time for yourself? How do you make space for the woman you are and honor who you have been? How do you respect your evolution and your limits?” I silently ask myself these questions as I roll on the floor with the toddler at my feet. We are playing trucks and reading books. He wants to be near or on me and be carried by me.
In my heart I know this is his love language but it took me a while to figure out how to honor myself while giving him what he needed. And I’m still not sure how to draw the boundaries around me when time calls. I want to be available but what if I have nothing to give?
Too often our tenderness
Is hidden in the loads of the day
With our feet so busy running around the world.
The glow of soul can become buried.
“What are you grateful for?,” I ask the frazzled woman in the mirror some days. I tell her to breathe, to get a glass of water or cup of tea? To go outside and play? To go somewhere? There are days when she listens to me because she feels her smallness, her capacity to turn inward too much but sometimes she doesn’t. Sometimes she gets caught up in chores and tending and putting out small fires. We are guilty of wearing tiredness like a badge.
Do you hear that call just beyond the hum of it all?
The little one almost hidden in the waves of doing but so sincere
And wild in its yearning?
Beckoning with the might of rain and wonder?
“You have to work three times as hard”, she told me. “You are black, female and poor”, she said to me matter of factually. “Oh mama. Who am I to enjoy my life? Who am I not to toil away in drudgery?” Not to suggest that motherhood (and life/work) definitely does NOT have it moments or seasons but the questions they ask are within these questions.
These questions weigh on me (in a different way these days) when I give them footing. I don’t ever want to forget where I come from. All that hard work helped me through life. It lead me through some very lean and hard times.
No, it did not protect me from the ‘isms or save me from them or myself but it did encourage me in ways that helped me focus and ultimately do what I needed to do to be “successful”.
Give in to that call to
To the paper
To that which beacons
The simple lushness
Finally, the toddler is asleep. In about 30 minutes I will miss him dearly but right now I am dreaming up a recipe for herbal hot chocolate and toying with the idea of going back to the little room with my desk.
Even for a moment. Let your tears come and the holiness
Of breath overcome you and gently watch.
Open your eyes and watch yourself
Sink into the glorious embrace of Your own attention given.
Instead, I go again to that mirror and look at that woman. Me. I see her eyes. My eyes. Tired and happy. Still searching for something. My heart goes out to her because I love her so. I want her to rest. I want her to write her heart out. I want her to play and laugh from her bones. I want her to love what she sees. I want to hug her deeply. I want her to rest.
I tenderly look at her in the eyes and say, “I know you are doing the best you can and you can’t do it all. It’s okay to fail some and to let go. I am here for you. No matter what. I am here for you. Always”.
I sigh deeply and head downstairs to make a cup of hot chocolate with a pen and notebook it my hand. It’s not settled , this whole creative motherhood and self-care stuff, but I am here and I am writing.
Please rest there. For a heart-turning moment
If you do, you may you feel with all your Bones,
Both ancient and growing, the mercy of renewal.
Some way you must know
and live like
There is still a beauty creating,
love making heart in this body.
Believe in her.
She’s slowly resurfacing.
Keishua Arthur is a former corporate librarian and life-long scribbler living in the D.C. metro area. She is a lover of morning light, a visual storyteller, a word lover and tea addict. She can be found chasing after her toddler, trying not to fuss at her kooky cat, and writing really long posts on Instagram. Her passions include social justice, spiritual advocacy, literacy and body positivity. She can be found on Twitter, Instagram and online at www.thelovelyquiet.com
Photo by Keishua Arthur