After becoming a mom and still being the main income in the household, finding balance became one of the hardest things for me to do. I needed to make enough to keep a roof over our heads and food in the fridge, and I needed to come home and be a nurturing mother. There were some days where doing both of these things felt impossible. It took months for me to be able to draw boundaries – to say “no” to things that drained me, because if my metaphorical batteries ran out, it wasn’t just my own needs that didn’t get met. Letting myself get completely drained meant having no energy to work, or to be a mother.
It took me months to learn that I had to be verbal about what I needed in order to keep carrying the weight on my shoulders that I did. But after months of trying and sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing, I reached a point where I felt as though I had found the sweet spot – asking just enough to keep myself healthy and sane, so I could continue to provide for my family, and to be present with them. It was right when I thought that I had found that balance that the ‘E’ word was thrown at me: entitled.
I had never been a good advocate for myself before having my son. I had never given myself the rest and the space for introspection to say, “This is what I need,” prior to hitting a point of complete meltdown. Learning to advocate for myself and expecting to be approached with empathy and sensitivity by those close to me is arguably one of my biggest personal achievements outside of starting the process of learning to be a mother. But to some outside eyes, this was entitlement.
This happens. It will happen, and it will suck. People will call you ‘entitled’ when you advocate for yourself and create space for your own mental health and wellness, or when you begin to hold others to a higher standard of how you need for them to treat you.
If you are truly working towards your own health and wellness, and if you are working towards it unselfishly, the people who call you entitled are often the ones who benefit most from you making a martyr of yourself. They are the people who benefit from you always saying “yes” and never saying “no”.
Practice self-care. Say “no” when something feels wrong. Gently but firmly insist on being spoken to with kindness.
If you don’t like the term self-care or you think that it sounds a little too millennial, don’t call it self-care. Call it cutting yourself some slack. Call it being kind to yourself. Call it bologna on rye. Call it anything you want, as long as you do it. Call it anything you want, as long as you realize that it’s not rocket science. It’s just the First Rule of Thermodynamics: you can’t get something from nothing (1).
Practice self care. Your health and your sanity depend upon it. And my fellow working moms especially, practice self-care because your family depends upon it. I drive this point home in almost every post, but it can never be said enough: you cannot pour from an empty vessel. You cannot give light if your own has gone out.