Confession 2: I Don't Always Take Care of Myself As I Should

Good Enough is Good Enough Book Study: Chapter 2: I Don’t Always Take Care of Myself as I Should

Self-care is such an interesting concept to me, as I struggle with the idea feeling selfish. I really appreciated when on page 28, Colleen Duggan said, “As a devoted Catholic I was afraid of falling into the “all about me” mentality so prevalent in our self-obsessed culture, but I distorted the concept of “deny self” into “deny my basic needs as a human being.” I could really relate when she went on to say, “The pervasive and constant need of my family combined with my insane perfectionism…. Swallowed any inclinations toward self-care.” She refers to the way we self-deny in order to say we are “sacrificing” for our family.

Later toward the end of the chapter, I love how she goes on to explain self-care again, on page 37. “We ignore our own personal needs and serve others until we are at our breaking points.” She reminds us that Jesus taught to love our neighbor as ourselves. Do we really desire others to neglect themselves and their needs? If not, then why are we doing it to ourselves?

Discussion Questions:

1. Do you have a tendency to be moderate or immoderate in self-care? Why? Were your own parents good examples of this? What did they do well? What needed improvement?

I think I’ve grown over the years in the area of self-care. When my first two children came home, I really didn’t do a good job of taking care of myself. I wanted my children to feel safe and since they felt safe with me, I was with them all the time. I am not saying being with your children all the time is not a beautiful gift of motherhood, because during seasons of their lives it can be essential. I do however think that there were times, especially during those hard seasons of parenting, that I could have left my children home with my husband or a babysitter and taken some time for myself. When I take better care of myself, I feel like I can take better care of my children and my family. I also think that self-care doesn’t just have to be about taking time away or pampering. For me, self-care can be going to the grocery store by myself. The best way to start my day with self-care is when I have Morning Prayer time by myself. Sometimes I’ll get up before my kids, or other times I just sit quietly in the corner while they mill around in the morning. A few moments in adoration are a great example of self-care. Self-care can also be calling a girlfriend during quiet time at my house, or having a good friend and her children come over for a daytime play date. This is great because both my children and I get some quality friend time. A recent self-care addition for me has been getting up and working out for 20 minutes at home or heading to the gym before my husband goes to work. Self-care can even include just taking a shower and taking some time to wash my face or use some nice lotion. I consider self-care anything that fills, rejuvenates or energizes my spirit to return and be able to serve my family.

2. What are some hobbies you enjoy? Do you engage in those hobbies? Why or why not?

I love writing, so A Mom Revolution has been such a gift for me. It encourages me to take time each week engaging in one of my favorite hobbies! I love spending time with my husband and my girlfriends. I love photography, so I enjoy taking pictures of my kids or using my creative passion to create images for my blog posts. I enjoy learning, so taking some time with a good book can be a treat for me. I enjoy cooking, especially when I have the time and ingredients to cook more entertaining meals. I love hosting events and party planning so we volunteer to host events at our home when our schedule permits. For me, hobbies can include spending time with friends, and it can also include exercising. I love public speaking, so I find events to speak at when I can.

3. When are you most tempted to neglect yourself? Why? What are some safeguards you can implement to prevent gross self-negligence?

I am most tempted to neglect myself in the morning. I feel like each morning when I wake up, I tell myself I am going to go out and do my Morning Prayer and then exercise. Usually however, I end up getting distracted by something like cleaning up the kitchen or working to get my kids started on their morning list. Suddenly 30 minutes has passed and it’s too late to exercise because we need to get started with our school day. I think for me, a safeguard is to get up just a few minutes early so that my kids aren’t awake yet and head straight to the garage. If I don’t get up in time, I just need to tell my children that I’m going to workout and then be more disciplined to go to the garage.

4. Do you prioritize your faith, or do you let yourself get caught in the rhythms of daily life without taking time to grow in your faith? What is one way you can be more intentional about your faith this week?

I think for me, I try to live out my faith daily, but I know that daily life can distract me. Recently, when my friend Sister Catherine Marie came to visit, we prayed the Liturgy of the Hours together in the morning, evening and night and it reminded me how much I love that form of prayer. I have tried to at least keep the morning prayer in my day and am hoping I can add nighttime more regularly as well. I feel like I’ve tried before but I’ve thought I needed to add both prayer times, and gave up on it all if I couldn’t do both. Now I’m focused on being successful with one and working to add the second. When we used to drive to school, we would do our morning prayers each day in the car. Somehow I tend to forget now that we homeschool because we start our school day so much differently. I usually begin working with my children once they’ve finished breakfast. The other two might still be getting ready for the day, so we’re not all beginning together. I need to get better about stopping and teaching my children to start with morning prayers, other than just grace before breakfast.

5. How do you communicate with your spouse? Does that need to change? How do you maintain your marriage as a priority amid the demands of life?

My husband and I have worked hard to learn strategies for communicating. I think for us, counseling has been a real blessing. We’ve learned tools for communicating. Recently we were arguing in the morning over something and we were both upset. My husband made the point of expressing that it seemed like we were both not feeling listened to by the other person. He suggested that we work on an empathy exercise later that night, once we were back home. The empathy exercise we’ve been taught is for one of us to express a thought of feeling to the other and the other person has to say, “What I hear you saying is, or you feel like …” There is something powerful about repeating what the other person thinks or feels, because we take it on ourselves and can almost feel where the person is coming from and the emotions behind their actions.

Our schedules are crazy so are constantly trying to assess our schedules. We try to have a few nights during the week that we refer to as “date night.” Sometimes we’re able to go out together, and other times it can just be sitting on the couch together. Sometimes he’ll pick up take-out on the way home from a late work event and we’ll put the kids to bed and sit down together to eat. I even think ending a text during the day to check in can remind us about our love. I work hard to remember that our marriage is the base of our family and if it struggles, our family struggles. To be the best parents to our children, we have to show them a strong marriage.

Copyright 2019 Courtney Vallejo All Rights Reserved

Image Credit Copyright 2019 Karen Padilla. All Rights Reserved

Courtney Vallejo