by Claudette Gadsden-Hrobak
If you think taking care of yourself is selfish, change your mind. If you don’t, you’re simply ducking your responsibilities. Ann Richards
Women are brought up to believe that it is their responsibility to care for the world. We are nurturers. It is a part of our DNA. When we are little girls, we are expected to be the mom, nurse or the babysitter when we play house. We are expected to be the teacher when we play school. All wonderful roles and all roles of caregiver to some extent.
We watch our mothers and grandmothers care for the family, while caring for the neighbors and the neighbors kids. What we rarely, if ever, see is our mothers and grandmothers caring for themselves. Every now and then you would get a quick glimpse, if you were careful and quiet, of the exhaustion lines on their faces. I would walk pass my grandmother and catch a quick glimpse of that exhaustion until she realized that I was there. The she would smile that reassuring smile which told the world that all was well.
When I was growing up, no one in my world ever said, “Sit down and relax”, “Take a vacation with the girls” or “Spend a day at a spa.” I do remember my mother telling me to be all that I could be. She pushed me to try new things. She convinced me to attend a high school outside of my neighborhood and away from my friends because it offered more opportunities. She pushed me to see a world outside of our own, but it never included caring for the whole me. She could not share with me what was not shared with her.
We are finally realizing how important it is to care for ourselves. Every woman’s magazine in publication has articles pertaining to ‘self-help’. The topics include sex, marriage, how to find the sexiest swimsuits, stress-free hairstyles, lifestyles, entertainment and the single life. There are some but very few articles about caring for self. If we don’t care for self, how will we care for others?
We must start early with teaching our girls, our daughters and our sisters how important it is to care for self. Let’s help them to know how important it is to please themselves first. When they are happy, the world around them is happy. In order to please others, we must start with pleasing ourselves. Too many of our sisters are focused on pleasing and caring for others with little or no regard for themselves.
I realized when my daughter was about 3 years old that she needed to tell me all about her day away from me and I needed to have a few minutes to unwind. We made an agreement that she would allow me 20 minutes to unwind, then she could have my attention for the rest of the evening. What a wonderful plan. I had time to re-energize and she had a mother who was more calm, patient and attentive. It also taught her the importance of caring for self.
I chose to refocus my practice on young women, 25 and under, because they need early lessons in caring for self. When they understand, as young women, that they are the most important person in their life, they make better choices. When they are allowed to make non-life threatening choices early in life, choosing what is best for them becomes much easier as they become adults. They are our future and have gifts to share with the world. Help them to see the joys of Taking care of You!