When I was a young SAH (stay-at-home) mom, with a husband who traveled and two small peeps, I used to cringe when people asked me what I did to take care of myself. I was in my 30's and did plenty to take care of others, but relatively little for myself. I took a lot of pride that in the early years of "mommy bashing" - I hung in there and put my children first. I was a practicing adult by then and understood that undertaking motherhood was a decision I made in full possession of my sanity. Those children didn't ask to be born, I asked to give birth to them and to be a safe harbor for them in their youth.
Had things been different (i.e. death, divorce, illness, disability, etc) I would have returned to the workplace a lot earlier than I did. But in our case, balancing staying home versus having a fancy new BMW really didn't create a dilemma. We had our transportation needs met with a used station wagon and a small diesel pickup. The oriental rugs and diamonds and cruises would just have to wait (please read with eyes crossed. Thank you). But don't kid yourself, I heard a lot of comments about my brain turning to drivel and just how could I not be bored by the constant company of pre-schoolers.
Well, those days are over. I have a perfectly accessorized car, a sail boat (and a captain to go with it!), and some darn nice rugs courtesy of our local WalMart. OK, so they aren't oriental, but they are lovely just the same. Save the issue of MS, my brain still works just fine, and now I can "take care of myself" if it matters to me.
Which begs the question, "What is Taking Care of Myself?" When my kids were under our roof (peeps in the Hen House), taking care of myself included trimming my toenails, a weekly bath (I showered most other days), and a no holds barred trip to the K-Mart garden department. Taking care of myself included getting a mammogram, pap smear, cholesterol count (mine was always high, thanks to genetics). What it didn't include was a day at the spa, or a weekend of hob-nobbing with the haves. No dinners out for us when I could make a perfectly decent casserole from ground turkey, rice, tomatoes and a bit of seasoning.
This year, making resolutions involves making changes that are sustainable. I can now afford to have my hair done every six weeks, and, luxury of luxury, my eyebrows waxed (I have a veritable forest of eyebrow hair that I used to just ignore). I've even visited a spa a time or two, mostly for the rehydration of skin that is turning to dust thanks to my having the good sense to not practice rehydration when I was young, and frankly, juicy enough.
So, if you are a young mom, keep "Taking care of yourself" a New Year's resolution, but keep it realistic and sustainable. Do get that mammogram, do get that pap, do get that physical, and do buy some nice perennials for your garden. Don't get frustrated if your resolutions don't include a new car, designer clothes, oriental rugs and fancy vacations. There's plenty of time for all that when the kids are adults themselves and your skin is turning to volcanic ash.