“Did you know that bass means butt, Mom?” (insert Beavis-and-Butthead-style snickers)
And that is how the latest “out of the mouths of babes” conversation began with my 6-year-old son a few weeks ago.
He was referring to Meghan Trainor’s song, “All About That Bass”, the women’s empowerment anthem that is currently playing every hour, on the hour, on Top 40 radio.
I took a deep breath and explained to my son that, “No. Bass does not mean butt. The singer is trying to say that a woman with curves is just as beautiful as any other lady. She’s arguing that heavier women have a certain ‘boom, boom, boom’, just like a bass speaker in a stereo, that makes them special. They don’t have to try hard to be super skinny like the edited images we see on TV or in magazines.”
I went on to add, “Some people might say that your mom doesn’t have a lot ‘bass’ because I’m not very curvy.”
And here’s where the conversation took an unexpected turn.
“Ummm… Yes, you DO have curves, Mom.” And he proceeded to stand up, noticeably slump his shoulders and demonstrate a posture that looks similar to this:
He’s right. I do have curves, in my slumped shoulders and my thrusting hips. My “mommy posture” is as curvy as it comes. I laughed at his comment, but I also let out a big sigh.
It was in that moment that I realized two things:
#1: My kids are watching me. It may seem like they are fully consumed with the Girl Scout cookies they are munching on or the latest addictive game on their iPad. But out of the corners of their eyes, they are observing me. They are paying close attention to how I carry myself and how I care for myself.
#2: I’m not caring for myself as well as I could. My hands show the signs of too much dish washing and not enough moisturizing. The deepening lines on my forehead give proof of the continual frowning and grimacing going on in my house. I spend my days talking to clients and other moms about the importance of self-care and yet it’s clear that I could be doing a better job of taking care of myself.
As parents, we regularly teeter on the edge of martyrdom. We have to make sacrifices in order to care for our kids – it’s part of the unwritten contract that we willingly sign when we bring a baby into this world. We give up sleep, we give up spontaneity, we give up our weekends and our nice furniture. But as Cheryl so powerfully wrote in “My Children Come First”, we shouldn’t give up caring for ourselves. As important as it is to be available to our children and tuned in to their needs, it is also important to model healthy habits and emotional wellness.
So… now that my 6-year-old has unwittingly become my latest Life Coach, I’m making a commitment to do three things:
1. Straighten up my attitude: I know for a fact that my posture reflects how I am feeling, and on too many days, I feel like this:
But the truth is, I rock as a parent. And so do you. Instead of walking around feeling (and looking) like I am carrying the entire world on my shoulders, I am committed to holding my head up high and reminding myself that I got this thing! Here’s the attitude I want to meet each day with:
Hiya! Whatcha got for me day? Cuz I’m gonna tear you up!
2) Straighten up my schedule, and block off time for self-care. As a parent, it is so easy to let the errands, chores and children take precedence over carving out time for yourself. When I was a new mom, I would occasionally ask my husband for some extra time to take a bath in peace, go to a yoga class, or meet up with a girlfriend. Self-care needed to be squeezed in where I could fit it. Now that my kids are in school, I have more leeway. Taking out time to go to the gym each day or use that unused massage gift-certificate should be a no brainer. In order to care for my kids, I have to take care of myself. A permanent spot on my daily schedule should be devoted to that.
3) Straighten up my posture: To be fair, my posture has never been great. Years of holding babies and worries have only made it worse. I’m committed to working on it now. And I’m going to start with these exercises from the amazing Allison Lambert. Stay tuned for a future Wednesday Wisdom featuring her and her empowering at-home work-outs:
My challenge to myself, and all of you, is to make self-care a priority this year. It might look like giving yourself thirty minutes each day to dive into a great novel. Or sixty minutes to go take a Mommy and Me yoga class. Regardless of how you care for yourself, you will be making yourself a priority, and that is an important thing for your kids to see. Of course, there will be those days when your shoulders are slumped from exhaustion and you can’t wait to crawl into bed. But the other days of the week, you can focus on holding your head up high and walking around like this:
I want my kids to know I got this thing.
I’ll let you know if my 6-year-old, aka Coach Elliott, gives me his stamp of posture approval.
Here’s to Strength and Boxing Gloves,