I have been hearing a lot about a concept called, “self-care” recently and I can tell you this is a concept I can enter into enthusiastically. Just the words—self and care, are such wonderful words…who can argue with caring for yourself?
Now, as I understand this self-care thing, it simply means you should do whatever it takes to keep you calm, satisfied and free from fear. Even if that means you spend an entire day eating doughnuts and drinking Pepsi non-stop while indulging in a marathon showing of your absolute favorite episode of Enterprise???? Of course, self-care for me is going to include food and some mental distraction that does not require mental exertion.
The problem I have encountered with self-care is that what is self-care for me, isn’t self-care for my husband. When he needs self-care, it involves taking walks or doing chores around the house. And that is where our marriage has always strained at the seams.
“What’s for lunch,” he will ask, coming in from a refreshing walk and neatly removing his muddy boots at the door.
“Don’t bother me,” I mumble, spitting bits of roll and frosting everywhere, “I’m trying to watch this Star Trek episode about a corrupt Vulcan ambassador.”
“The ambassador isn’t corrupt, she’s trying to expose criminals,” he says, his face completely deadpan.
“How do you know?” I am truly impressed as I slosh Pepsi to wash down the fourth roll of the day.
“You’ve been watching that same episode for a solid day. How many rolls have you had today?”
“It’s called self-care,” I answered resentfully.
“Don’t step on a scale,” was his parting advice.
I changed tactics. I started binge-watching Downtown Abbey and I switched to cheese and crackers and Coke. Still an ideal way to self-care, but I did take his words to heart and searched for ways to be more active in my self-care. That means the next time he came to check on me, he found me putting together jigsaw puzzles. It worked fairly well, except I kept getting cheese on the puzzle and I kept losing the train of action in the episode of Downtown Abbey I was watching.
“You’re still eating and you’re still sitting,” my husband commented as he walked through the living room.
“It’s called self-care,” I said wiping the cheese off the missing piece of the cow’s face and completing my third puzzle of the day.
“I think you may have somewhat misunderstood the concept,” he said. “Self-care should make you more healthy mentally and physically. You are not challenging your mind and you are going to hate yourself when you step on the scale.”
He did put a doubt in my mind. Maybe this wasn’t self-care, but more like self-indulgence. I sure didn’t want to find my mind has gone to mush and gain a bunch of weight. I was going to have to be brave and step on the scale to assess at least some of the damage.
He came into the bathroom while I was cranking down the dial on the scale, so it would weigh 20 pounds lighter. He raised a superior eyebrow and I said defensively, “It’s called self-care.” I don’t think either one of us has the concept down very well…but that doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying!