“As women who were raised to act as if everything is fine while we’re bleeding our guts out everywhere, we owe it to ourselves to perpetuate the self-care we slowly became aware of.” – My Mom
Recently I was chatting with my mom about some of my eldest’s insecurities with an injury. She didn’t want people to know she was hurt and was worrying about what folks would say when they saw she was hurt. She wanted everyone to think everything was fine. I was so lost as to why she felt this way, I was feeling like I already failed my 6-year-old child.
We chatted about the insecurities that my mom had when I had a similar injury at just about the same age. She also felt like a failure and was worried about what people would say about HER when they found out my arm was broken. I honestly was shocked she felt this way (I was 5 so I can’t imagine I would have recognized this but still) because at the time I thought having a cast was the coolest thing.
Did I teach her to feel this way?
But this went into a deeper conversation about what my daughter sees when she looks at me. She was feeling worried and self-conscious, is this what I’m portraying? Does she feel like she has to “suck it up” and not show pain or discomfort? Does she feel like she shouldn’t put herself and her needs first?
We should show our feelings and emotions. It’s okay to get hurt. It’s also okay to slow down and focus on ourselves. Take a day off and rest the mind and body. To truly just take care of ourselves. This is what I want my daughter to see. I want her to see a mom who is human and takes care of them. You can’t pour from an empty cup, right?
So I say, take that day off.
She was too distressed to force her to go to school. She needed time to process what happened, recharge herself, and heal, but to also be a kid. After the x-ray confirmed that it was broken, I took her to the Museum of Science in Boston. It’s one of her happy places. That day, it was just us – no little brother taking all mom’s attention and dictating the exhibits and activities.
Fill Their Cup
She got to have special time with her mom, which she NEVER gets, and choose all the things she wanted to do and see. She was enjoying herself and filling up her cup and nearly forgot about her broken finger. When we came home she was so happy that she agreed she was ready to face school and her friends the next day. She still wouldn’t tell anyone it was broken, or even talk about it. But you know what, that’s okay too. She at least felt comfortable going to school. When she realized that no one had anything to say about her finger, her confidence grew. Then she started showing off her splint to anyone who would look. Of course, it was her middle finger she was flashing at everyone.
When it came time for the splint to come off, she wanted to keep it. To her, it had become a trophy and a source of pride. She found it pretty amazing how she hurt so bad in the moment of injury, she was so terrified after being told it was broken, but then her body rested and healed and now it’s all better! How amazing the human body can be? And this little body did it all on its own.
So, let them take the day off. It doesn’t have to be for a physical injury. It can just be a rough day or you just notice they need that break – that self-care we tell ourselves we need. Yeah, our kids need it too. And you don’t have to go to the Museum on the day off. You can stay home, go to the movies, play mini-golf, wherever their happy place is. Or whatever activity that recharges them and makes them feel good.