Being Kind to Myself
Yesterday morning, I set my alarm for 6AM. All I wanted was an hour or so to myself before my kids would start needing me. (Although who are we kidding, I’m on call 24/7. Or my breasts are, anyway, with a newborn in the mix).
The baby was up at 4:45 to nurse. When I put her back down at 5, I felt strangely energetic. It was the first time in a long time the baby had slept this many hours (SIX POINT SEVEN FIVE HOURS! HALLELUJAH!) in a row. I had every reason to stay up and drink a hot, uninterrupted cup of coffee or blog or go for a run or take a shower or perhaps do all of these before the clock struck seven o’clock, at which point, my husband would need me to take over kid duties so he could get himself to work.
Instead of relishing my two hours of freedom, I did what I promised myself I would not do when I set the alarm and turned out the light the night before. I drew my light blocking curtains a little tighter, crawled into our warm bed, tucked the covers up to my chin, held my pillow against my body, and fell back to sleep, as I am wont to do.
As I drifted back into dreamland, I made myself a promise: I would not wake up two hours later and hate myself for being a lazy slob and sleeping when I could have been doing real things, especially exercising, because I have an admittedly irrational expectation that the baby weight needs to disappear as of yesterday. Instead, I would wake two hours later and be as kind to myself as I would be to a friend who was in the same position I was.
I would tell my friend, “Are you nuts!? You lost all the weight from your first pregnancy and you will do it this time too, but you shouldn’t expect it to happen in less than two months. Cut yourself a break. You have a SEVEN WEEK OLD BABY.”
I would tell my friend, “Yes it is awesome that your baby pretty much slept through the night, but one night of decent sleep doesn’t make up for seven weeks of crappy sleep.”
I would tell my friend, “You have a lot on your plate right now. It’s ok if your blog isn’t updated.”
I would tell my friend, “Be honest. You nursed the same cup of coffee all morning and into the afternoon before you even had one kid. That cup of morning coffee, enjoyed while still hot, has always been nothing more than a fantasy.”
When I rose around 7AM, I felt rested. I wasn’t exactly feeling like “Hurray for the day!” (to borrow a phrase from my two year old). Yes, I had failed at the first order of business, the simple task of waking up at the desired time, BUT I wouldn’t hate a friend or consider her a sloth just for shutting the alarm clock off at 5AM, after getting up with a baby before dawn.
We all know the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do to you. It’s not that hard to be nice to other people, really. Why is it sometimes so much harder to be nice to one’s self? So here is my Bizarro World Version of the Golden Rule: Do unto yourself as you would do to others. I promise to be more mindful of it.
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