Taking care of yourself isn’t an added bonus—it’s a necessity
It’s Monday morning. Your alarm goes off. You hit the snooze button a few times, then get up, get the kids up, shower, eat breakfast, and race out the door. There is traffic. Whether day care or school, it seems everybody is impeding your progress, but you’ve got to get to work at 9:00 a.m. sharp!
You clock in, sit at your desk or endure standing on your feet for eight hours—because that’s what it takes to get the job done. And working hard is what we do. Solo Moms have an innate ability to carry out an incomprehensible mission daily: we work hard, we show up no matter what, and we make sure to take care of everything and everyone—except ourselves.
This is problematic and not at all sustainable, yet we attempt to adapt this mode of living time and time again. We “make it work.” Motherhood does require that we give, but some of us are natural-born nurturers and givers—which means we will keep giving, even when it arises from a place of depletion.
That depletion and chronic back pain led me to receive my first-ever massage. It was years ago, and I can still remember how much I tried to talk myself out of the appointment even as I was driving in. Perhaps you think of massage as I did: as a luxury. Maybe you associate it with the spa or resort getaway reserved exclusively for them—the wealthy, posh stay-at-home moms who have nannies and live in luxurious mansions. Who could possibly have time and/or money for massage with the obligation of a Solo Mom’s rigorous round-the-clock work schedule?
I used to feel this way. I would treat myself to a massage once a year, and when I did, I’d feel extremely guilty or be so consumed with the voices in my head shouting at me “I can’t afford this! I haven’t made it to this status! I have so much other stuff to do! I don’t have time to ‘just relax’ in the middle of the day!”
But from the moment I stepped into the treatment room with the dim lighting and soothing music, I was suddenly in this sanctuary of serenity, a safe space where I could relax and let go of all the demands for my time and attention. It was quite foreign. But once I spoke with my therapist about my needs, then undressed to my level of comfort, I was able to lie down on a warm, cushiony table and allow the music to seep into my ears and clear my head.
With that very first exhale, I was hooked. I allowed myself to bask in the comforting and nurturing touch of someone whose sole responsibility for that hour was to focus completely on me and my needs. How wonderful is that?
It was then and there that I realized it wasn’t about whether or not I could afford the massage (especially when I regularly treated myself to the no-chip manicure). It really was about whether or not I could give myself permission to (and budget for) this glorious, healing, therapeutic self-care necessity and be nurtured for a moment in time.
And the nurturing part is only half of it. The physiological benefits of massage are abundant. Increased circulation and blood flow to the tissues means my body will flush all the toxins. Whether it’s that neck and shoulder tension we accumulate from driving, stressing, texting, and sitting at a computer day in and day out or chronic pain, musculoskeletal issues, migraines, illness, or digestive problems—massage can help alleviate pain symptoms and assist your body in healing itself.
Perhaps you have an infant you’re nursing and cradling in your arms throughout the day, teeny tots who require your arm strength to be carried along with the diaper bag, or toddlers whom you chase around the house or bend your back to play and bond with. Or perhaps you’re raising tweens and adolescents who can add stress that manifests itself in upper neck and back tension. Massage can be a great addition to your lifestyle needs and even your children’s needs! You can choose from many different modalities, such as shiatsu, Thai, Mayan abdominal, and prenatal. You can research more at www.massagetherapy.com.
That day when my massage was over, I floated out of that establishment with a renewed sense of respect and appreciation for my body. While on the table, I thought of how much my body supports me, sustains me, and carries me through life while I carry others. That day I became a believer in the power of holistic self-care and healing. Since then, I schedule massage regularly, and a year ago I made the choice to become a licensed massage therapist. I wanted to not only experience that Zen but also offer it to the world.
Solo Moms, this isn’t a sales pitch. My intent is to share with you this one simple fact: Each and every time I give myself into this magical, therapeutic healing art, I am restored, rejuvenated, and at peace. And my body thanks me.
I invite you to do the same.
Top image via Shutterstock.com
Bottom image: VersAnnette Blackman
Former Solo Mom VersAnnette Blackman-Bosia, ESME’s Resource Guide for Domestic Violence, is a painter, published poet, speaker, and facilitator. Through her business, Soul Revival Healing Arts, she offers original paintings and products, and teaches workshops. Her first poetry collection, Butterfly Spirit, was published in 2015. VersAnnette is passionate about empowering women, eating great food, and traveling the world. She and her family currently reside near Chicago.
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