One of the greatest mysteries of motherhood is why I’ve been needing to pee for the last hour but I keep forgetting because I need to do just one more thing — and then a kid distracts me and the next thing I know, I’m about to wet myself (in a decidedly unsexy way) as the bounds of my sphincter control are severely tested by my body’s involuntary micturition reflex. In other words, I’m thisclose to peeing my pants. (I may have peed a little but it could’ve also been flop sweat.)
There’s a Chinese saying that roughly translates into “waiting until your shit reaches your asshole” and if there’s another phrase that encapsulates how I attend to my own needs, I haven’t yet found it. It’s puzzling because it makes no sense. Why do we moms do this? Is there a heretofore unheralded tournament where we win snacks if we routinely procrastinate and outright ignore our bodily functions until an explosion is imminent?
I mean, it’s not as if we aren’t constantly reminding the rest of our household about their bodily functions. We know how it works.
And I know. The last thing we moms need is yet another article guilting us on the importance of self-care and blah blah blah. After all, if we had the time to take care of ourselves, we totally would! Or if our brains weren’t actual sieves, we’d remember.
So, instead of me telling you stuff you already know, please consider this a friendly nudge from someone who has perfected the art of ignoring my bodily signals so much that I couldn’t even discern any emotion other than extreme anger or sadness. That’s some next level disregarding.
1. Go pee already
No, I mean it. Right now. You probably need to really badly. In fact, I certainly do. Please hold as I go relieve myself.
But also, if you hold your pee too long, you run the risk of getting a urinary tract infection, your bladder may eventually atrophy and lead to incontinence (my children already did that for me, thanks), or you may hold your pee so much that you can’t actually relax your bladder to pee even when you want to (this has happened to me before), and on extremely rare occasions, your bladder could burst.
Just go pee already.
2. Drink water
Here’s your daily reminder to drink some water. In the words of the immortal sages: hydrate, hydrate, dominate!
It may seem the height of trolling for me to tell you to drink water right after telling you to pee, but proper hydration not only helps with clear skin, it helps regulate body temperature, keeps your organs functioning (this seems important), prevents infections, improves sleep quality and cognition, and boosts your mood. Experts recommend 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) a day for women and 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) a day for men.
Have a giant water bottle by your desk or in your car and remember to sip on it throughout the day. General consensus claims that if you wait until you feel thirsty, you’re likely already dehydrated.
3. Eat something
If you’re anything like me, sometimes, most of the day has flown by and I’ve fed the children (well, likely I’ve reminded them to feed themselves) but have completely forgotten to eat anything for myself. And then, I’M HANGRY.
Do I really need to point out why eating food is a good thing for you? Yes, yes. Food is fuel. But also, food is pleasure. Eat to fuel your body but also, eat because it’s tasty.
4. Make your yearly physical and OB/GYN appointment
I’m not gonna lie. I haven’t seen a doctor for an exam of any sort (other than when I was in the ER for a sprained ankle) since I had my last prenatal check up with my youngest baby. My youngest is four and a half.
5. Put your phone down and go to sleep
Seriously, all these reminders tell me is that I’m a terrible person. I really don’t do any of these things regularly — so I suppose you should do as I say and not as I do. I know all about squeezing as much of your “real” life into the precious hours after the kids finally go the fuck to sleep.
Thanks to the pandemic, my four kids are going to bed past 10:30 p.m. some nights (yes, even the four-year-old) because they’ve been on screens way more than the recommended amount. Don’t @ me — we don’t even pretend to try at my house since my husband and I have just given up on actual parenting.
However, even an extra 15 or 30 minutes sleep each night will improve cognitive functioning and reaction times. And given that we can’t remember to eat, drink, or excrete, I think we need all the help we can get.
6. Automate setting aside money for your retirement
Since I used to be a financial advisor for a decade in a past life, I cannot recommend enough for people — but women especially since in general, we live longer than men — to automate monthly contributions to a retirement account like an IRA or a Roth IRA or a 401(k). If your company matches your contributions, at the very least, contribute to get that full match.
Even if it’s just a small amount, make it a habit to transfer an amount to your retirement account. If you already contribute to your retirement, consider this your reminder to increase your contribution unless you’ve already hit the max. Over time, even small amounts will add up (especially since retirement accounts grow tax free).
Even if you’re not working, you can contribute to an IRA or Roth IRA — the maximum amount for 2021 is $6,000 and $7,000 if you’re over 50. Don’t count on your spouse’s retirement account because who can predict the future? And though I had four kids so I could rotate which kids’ house I live at every season, they might not agree to such a living arrangement (even though they came out of my vagina — and one of them was cut out of me).
Look, none of these reminders are revolutionary, but allow me just one tiny moment to sound inspirational and guru-like. If we don’t take our trivial needs seriously, how can we ever prioritize ourselves on the things that are truly important to us?
And now, seriously, go pee already.