Home Sweet Home

shea2

When we moved into our new apartment I was really excited! We downsized so that I could quit my job and become a stay at home mom. I have always loved the idea of city living with a small space for our family of four. Much different than my upbringing in typical suburbia, in a house where I had my own bedroom and shared a bathroom with my siblings.

This ain’t suburbia. Our kids share a room and we ALL share one bathroom. But it is our sacred space; home sweet home.

In an effort to cut costs and get creative with our storage space, we have embarked upon quite a few DIY projects. By we, I mean my husband. He is quite the handyman thanks to YouTube videos, Google and a tool kit from my dad. As his projects come to an end we are finally feeling settled. 

Summer has taken her warm breeze and officially moved on and with it, I find, so has my excitement. I look around our quaint space, I see pots and pans hanging from a pegboard over the stove, clothes neatly folded in baskets on shelves, books stacked in their book case, my art table tucked away with paints and canvas in the corner. The toys and in their toy box (or hidden under the couch). But something in this sacred space is still in need of some TLC.

I’m too tired to think about more projects. The babies are crying because I am taking too long to make their breakfast. I still haven’t brushed my teeth and am probably wearing yesterday’s clothes. Again.

Then it hits me like a smack in the face.

I need TLC. I am the next DIY home project.

Let’s be real, how much do I invest in my own TLC? How often do I prioritize self care? When is the last time I have looked on Pinterest for ideas on how to maximize the space I live in every day?

That space being my own body.

I need to start thinking of my body as my home, remembering it is my babies’ first home. This was their sacred space.  So sacred that I sacrificed my wants for their needs.  I changed up my eating habits and cleaned up my lifestyle to maximize their development inside my body, their home.  So now, again, this sacred space needs TLC every now and then--more now rather than then. How can I be fully prepared to engage with my family in a meaningful and present way if I am constantly feeling gross and covered in baby slob, this morning's breakfast crusted on my shirt and I may or may not have on yesterday’s deodorant. Did I even put any on? Wait, is it still in the bathroom cabinet? When is the last time I took a shower? Have I had a conversation with another adult besides my husband today? What was I doing again…?

I start to wonder how my mother was able to take care of herself while raising five kids under one roof. Husband at the 9 to 5 Monday through Friday with Law School crammed somewhere in between. There had to have been many times when she was overwhelmed. I get overwhelmed with just two.

She took care of her sacred space; her body, her home. My first home. She found time for herself, outside of being a mom, and even outside of being a wife. When I visit my parents I always stare at the framed picture of her newspaper clipping, where she is running with her two best friends who also happened to be mothers with the same first names. I am sure they had stories for miles. She enjoyed herself, by herself. No kids. No husband. Friends or no friends. Perhaps she even forgot about being a mother and a wife for just a few moments.

I deserve to self care. My family needs me to feel good when I look in the mirror. My family needs me to wake up ready to take on the day with them. They need me to enjoy this thing called life once in awhile. They don’t want to see their mama and wife run down, barely hanging in there. Not to mention, I don’t feel good barely hanging in there.

I paint and practice yoga in my home day after day. I go for long runs along Lake Michigan. Sometimes I even paint my fingernails. Isn’t that enough? No.

The DIY self care I am talking about removes me from the space of being a mother and a wife. Self care that involves getting in the car or on the bus or taking the train and venturing out of our little world. Saying bye bye to our typical family friendly chicago neighborhood for just a few hours. Self care that has me feeling like a powerful and magnetic woman again. Or for the first time. Either way, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I honor who I am by taking care of myself. Remembering that it is ok to put me first.

I want my children to have the memories of home and their mama like I do. Remembering what the air smelled like when mama opened the windows on that first crisp Spring day. The way her skin felt as I would crawl onto her lap after bumping my head. Or getting a hug from her just because... because she had energy to hug me. Home sweet home.

I want my husband to never forget who he married. A strong and vibrant young woman who lived life to the fullest. Ready for whatever adventure was in front of her. If I am able to put down a dirty dish to take a longer shower to feel sexier for my husband who knows what adventure may be there once the babies are in bed.

I have the ability to take care of myself just as I did when I carried my babies. Held them in my womb, their first home. This was their sacred space, so sacred I sacrificed my wants for their needs.

So I must now, again, sacrifice my wants for their needs. I WANT to put them first ALWAYS, but they NEED me to put myself first SOMETIMES. They need me to take care of my body. My home, their first home. This sacred space of mine.

My self care, my self preservation has to become more of a priority. Not because I am doing a bad job. But because I deserve to put myself first more often. Embracing that my sacred space IS worthy of tender love and care. A little DIY for MY home sweet home.

I am trying my best, DOING my best. The days of removing baby slob with baby wipes, looking for a shirt not crusted in this morning's breakfast and reapplying fresh deodorant over yesterday’s are far from over. But putting my self care up on a shelf only to be pushed behind tonight's leftovers must come to an end.

I smile as I pick today’s lunch out of my hair and get ready for a shower. I have scheduled a night out with friends in a couple weeks. No babies, no husband. Just mama, taking care of home sweet home.

Journalist:  Shea