As we get closer to the 12 week milestone, Tiny Oga is starting to get into her own routine which is great, but I can’t work it out. Things are a bit somehow right now, and I find myself slipping into a bad habit. So, instead of napping when she naps finally, after being awake for what seems like the whole day, I just sit here scrolling through my twitter timeline, in case, you know, I miss something important, like, maybe Nicki breaking up with Meek, or, Feminists finally dismantling The Patriarchy and uploading clips of themselves twerking over its ashes. Before I know it, it’s time to make dinner and I haven’t even rested.
I know myself. And as a recovering self-neglecter, I recognize that I’m skating on thin ice. I tell myself I can’t nap with her, because I don’t know how long she will be asleep for or that I’ve got more important things to do (like procrastinate) but what I’m actually doing is subconsciously imposing conditions for my self-care. Self-sabotage.
I was 8 months pregnant with BabyLeader when I realised that I was suffering from burn-out. It clicked as I was sitting in a workshop on burn-out that I was co-hosting. I began to recognise aspects of the wounded healer archetype in myself, and as I became a new mother, which brought it’s own issues and super-lows, it took me so many months to work out that I was depressed and to get help.
I always felt guilty about taking care of myself. First as isangoma, I felt I should always be available and open to my clients and spirits alike, that my vocation meant giving myself up for the good of others. And secondly, as a new mum, I couldn’t quite reconcile my own needs with the destructive myth that being a mum isn’t real work. Plus I was at home, so I felt like I couldn’t complain because other womyn had to work and leave their babies at home, or worse, had no jobs and nobody to support them.
Creating healthy boundaries and putting myself first in my work life was the easy part. I even took a long break. The difficulty was learning self-care in my role as a mum. I didn’t bargain for the amount of guilt I would have to contend with.
One of the things that assisted my recovery was having a schedule for myself. I tried to eat, shower and rest at around the same time, in the same order, everyday. Knowing what’s coming next, when I was too tired and depressed to think, got me through some of the darkest moments of First Time Mum Nyiwing stages.
I see myself slipping back into that space where I’m not consciously considering my needs, and I won’t let myself. Dark or blue.
You’d think that putting oneself first, in the Motherhood, comes naturally. Nope. The world won’t let you, either. You’re a She-Devil if you dare to consider your humanity and individual well-being as a priority. So you have to fosta. Our Lorde, Audre ain’t never lie.
It’s not a competition between my needs and the needs of my babies. I can totally put myself first while my children remain a priority. You know why? Because I’m a grown womyn, and my ways are mysterious and many.
For the well-being of my children and health of my marriage, I need to make my self-care a priority. To slay is a must.