The day after my first son was born, my mother came by the hospital for a visit.
“Put a little makeup on” was what she said to me. At first I thought it was a strange request; after all, I had just been through a difficult delivery, was dealing with a new baby, and had not slept all night. Really mom? Who could think about makeup when nurses were talking about proper latching techniques (ouch) and my stitches were sore (OUCH!)?
But I obliged, grabbing my compact and putting on a little concealer and blush.
“Better,” she said.
I was not sure why my makeup seemed important to her that day. What I didn’t realize was that it would be years before I would understand the true intent of her comment.
As those years went on and my other two children were born, I found myself busier than ever with the demands of work and a young family. There seemed to be no time for myself; no time for the gym and certainly no time to fuss with my look. Even my wardrobe had become a mish-mash of at least four dress sizes to accommodate every waistline from early pregnancy to post-partum. In the fast pace and conflicting demands of it all, at times the last thing on my mind was my appearance and the last person on my priority list was me.
And that’s the thing I grew to understand first-hand about moms—they do so much for everyone else that there is little left for themselves.
I once had the pleasure of meeting Robin McGraw in Los Angeles when I appeared with her on the Dr. Phil show. She told me that whenever she speaks to women’s groups she asks, “Who here loves her children?” Of course all the hands would go up. “Well then, isn’t it important to look after their mother?” She had hit the nail on the head. I knew exactly what Robin meant. And I understood completely what my mother was trying to tell me all those years ago: You have just embarked on the toughest gig on the planet—so look after yourself. Find that time. Feel good. Don’t lose sight of who you are.
What I have learned and what I think my mother wanted me to know was that whether it is going to the gym, putting on some makeup, or getting an outfit together, the times when you feel least equipped and least motivated to do these things are probably the times when you need it most.
So, although it is not mother’s day, nor any particular holiday (“every day is mother’s day,” as my mom liked to say), I am sending my warm wishes to all you moms out there who daily give of yourselves so selflessly. Take care of yourselves.