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Food as Self-Care

I used to be proud that I didn’t take care of myself, that I always put my children and my husband first. I never valued the importance of food as self-care. If I didn’t eat breakfast until 10 or sometimes didn’t get a chance to eat until the afternoon, that was ok because I was caring for others. This was proof that I was putting them first. As a new SAHM I felt like I had to validate to everyone else that I was still valued even though my job was to now raise my kids. So I had to be the best mom I could be to prove it.

I absolutely know better and frankly, we all do, but somewhere in the craziness of life I got too wrapped up in everyone else and forgot about me. I started dancing at age 6 and stopped when I was 29. Being a SAHM is as physically intensive as dancing and teaching all day, even more so on some days. When I was dancing, I rested physically and mentally, participated in other activities to rejuvenate me, socialized, and paid attention to the food I put in my body both in quality and quantity. Being a SAHM should be no different, but I had lost myself.

Fast forward two years, and my husband and I have our first foster kiddos placed in our home. I went overnight from having 2 kids to having 4. And one foster child had a fractured skull while the other we later discovered had mono. I don’t think I sat down the first four days and I certainly was not thinking about self-care through food or anything else. My husband would call or text me periodically throughout the day to eat some food or get a drink or take a minute for myself. I appreciated him thinking of me but thought it was unrealistic. 

Then came my break though moment. It didn’t come easily as I tend to be excessively stubborn. My oldest caught mono from one of the foster kiddos. Then I caught mono from her plus strep throat and pink eye. I suddenly thought, “What am I doing to myself. I cannot care for these kids if I am not caring for myself”. I don’t know how many times I had seen this statement in various forms. I would say,  “ok sure let me work on that.” But I never did.

I do focus on self-care, but never valued the importance of food as self-care. I would take a bath, go to the store by myself, or spend time with friends. But none of these things are beneficial if I am not fueling my body. It is the base of our energy, our mental state, our strength, and our physical well being. Yet, I pushed it way to the bottom of the list. I am still struggling to make better food choices over easy ones, but I also want to be a good example for my children.

You are all amazing mommas, and I know that you know all of these things as well, but hopefully, this is a gentle reminder to someone who needs it.

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