It’s no secret that mothering takes energy and effort and can be overwhelmingly stressful. I mean, honestly, this is not news, as the physical, mental and emotional tolls of parenthood are discussed ad nauseam. However, since our society seems hell-bent on insisting that motherhood and martyrdom are synonymous, moms (and women in general, to be honest) aren't necessarily encouraged to combat that stress and exhaustion with a healthy amount of self-care. Mothers who do take time for themselves, are quickly labeled "selfish" or "lazy" or "incapable," which discourages exhausted moms from doing things that make their who life instantly feel in order, or at least somewhat manageable.
Sure, I guess moms have Mother's Day to be "pampered" and to "rest" and to "take a break from parenting," but then again, not every mother has that ability on Mother's Day (or any day) and, come on, one day a year? Yeah, not going to cut it, folks. There are 364 other days in which the regular, run-of-the-mill but still incredibly taxing aspects of motherhood are experienced on the regular, and constantly giving of yourself without re-fueling isn't going to end well. Trust me.
And so, with that in mind, I’d like to present my favorite ten-minute reset button that any (or most) mothers can do at any time of day, on any day of the year: painting my own nails. I know, I know. Silly, right? Maybe, but I’m okay with that.
I could try to dig deep and explain that the smell makes me think of middle school sleepovers; how I like browsing through my collection of polish and considering what each one communicates about the season or the mood I’m in; how the tiny glass bottles always look so inviting in the drawer where I keep them; how blissful those mellow moments are where I can’t move, even if I wanted to because my nails are wet and they need time to dry which means whatever anyone else needs absolutely has to wait. I mean, I'm rendered completely immobile for full minutes at a time, and it's strangely luxurious and comforting. Of course, this is sometimes ill-advised (I mean, I wouldn't suggest you asking your newborn to wait to eat while you let your nails dry) and there are some circumstances that require your immediate attention, regardless of how fresh that last coat is. However, for little things that aren't immediately serious, giving a valid reason for your immobility is, you know, awesome.
Like, I don’t have many time-consuming beauty rituals in my life (I work from home, okay?) so putting a pause button on my day to let my nails dry is another way to take time for myself. And, as my son gets older and more mobile, more vocal and more, um, demanding, it gets even more important to treat myself occasionally and feel like a complete human on my own terms (and not solely as one that just exists to fill his needs).
Am I able to do this on a regular basis? Well, that depends on how you define regular. Do I constantly walk around feeling like a hand model? No, definitely not. Weeks can go by between my own manicure sessions. My nails sometimes chip (I’m not proud) or grow out or break. But, honestly, that just means that when I finally do get to sit down and apply that sweet nectar of the Gods to my waiting fingernails with those tiny, perfect brushes, the reward is that much more, well, rewarding. My partner and I play this little game where I’m like, “Hey dear, look, I painted my nails for you," and he will generously refrain from rolling his eyes and, instead, offer my proper congratulations (which is totally the appropriate response). But the fact remains is that I’m seriously the only one who benefits from it. And that’s okay. In fact, that's the entire point.
It's a great way to make myself feel pampered, for myself. It's a cost-effective, somewhat low-maintenance few moments that I get to take myself to a far away place, where the smell of fingernail polish reigns supreme. It's, "me time," and while that may sound clichéd and somewhat ridiculous, it really is necessary and something I highly encourage every mother to partake in, if only for her benefit. It doesn't need to be a manicure; it can honestly be anything that you can do for yourself on the regular, to re-charge your batteries and remind yourself that you have a life outside of your immediate family. You're more than just a mother. And, honestly, I've realized that the more persona-manicure sessions I have, the better I feel, and the better I feel, the better my family feels, too. We all feed off one another, and when I'm happy I can see that directly change the mood of my family, for the better.
Anyway, I gotta go. I only have a few minutes and all this talk about nails has reminded me that I need to go take care of something.