Mommy Maintenance

why am I so tired?

Your friend just bought a brand new car.  It’s the car she has always wanted.  She has worked her whole life to get this car, and she takes it on adventures, and depends on it daily. This car enhances the quality of her life because it makes her happy and gets her safely from one place to the next.  Two years later, she can’t understand why it just doesn’t run anymore.  Sure, the dashboard lights came on, but the car kept running, and, why won’t this once perfect car work for her anymore?

You are rolling your eyes right now because everyone knows that cars need maintenance.  They need more than just gas to keep them going.  Change the oil and the fluids.  Make sure the tires have plenty of air and no holes.  Get a tune up every once in a while.  Take care of the car you love so much, and it, in turn should continue to be a dependable and enjoyable part of your life.

Didn’t you once feel shiny and new?  Did parenthood feel like a beautiful gift at first and now, while there are moments of love, the acts of day-to-day parenting no longer feeds your soul the way it used to?  That’s because, *gasp*, YOU ARE THE CAR.  You’re bright and shiny and perfect to your kids, your partner, your friends, your extended family, perhaps your job.  You wear many hats.  People not only like you, but they depend on you to be your most awesome self.  But in order to keep functioning at optimum performance, *you need maintenance*.

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Your health is not optional.  It's also not just physical.  Our mind, body and spirit are integrated. When the health of one fails, the others have to work overtime to compensate, and then they start to get worn down as well.  They are also all important components in what makes you, YOU.

AND YOU ARE AMAZING.  Beautiful.  Strong. Powerful.  You are the glue that holds your family together.  You are the person whose mood decides the energy in the house.  You get things done.  You are mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend.  You. Are. Important.

Women, for better or worse, tend to be great at switching gears, which can make us feel like we can get it all done if we just worked harder/organized more efficiently/gave just a little bit more energy/slept a little bit less.  This extra time and energy often comes at the expense of replenishing our own SELVES.  My amazing business partner, Cathy Davis, has said to me many times, “Self-care is not selfish.  It’s like putting your own oxygen mask on before you help anyone else with theirs.” You cannot continue to be your most awesome self without taking care of yourself too.

It seems like an obvious thing, but also kind of impossible with all you have to do in the day.  I get it.  But it really is as simple as prioritizing yourself.

Doula Says: *Maintain yourself, Mom!* Get up and get moving, not out of obligation but with purpose.  Go take a yoga class at Dragonfly or for a walk down on the Canal Path.  Make sure you focus on yourself for a minute: take a Mom’s Night Out or head to 25 30 Espresso for a delicious fair-trade drink and to read a book.  Rest, be quiet, take your tea on your back porch in the morning while your kids run around and make a mess or watch TV.  Pray or meditate.  One night a week, give yourself a break from cooking and have cereal for dinner.  In paper bowls (NO DISHES!).  Whatever will give you a break, a chance to rest, and time to be YOU. 

You are the car. Maintain yourself. You are important. Prioritize your SELF.

Victoria McCollum

Victoria McCollum is a birth and postpartum doula and owner of Doulas of Fredericksburg, in Fredericksburg, Virgina. She resides there with her husband and three precocious sons.