As parents, we never want to appear self-indulgent. It can be one of our greatest fears.
But let’s stop and think about this for a minute.
The definition of self-indulgence by Merriam-Webster is:
excessive or unrestrained gratification of one's own appetites, desires, or whims.
Really, what are the odds that, as a parent, you’re ever really self-indulgent? Perhaps child-indulgent or family-indulgent but I doubt many of us are excessively gratifying our own appetites, desires, or whims.
I know that even if I’m really enjoying something I’m eating like, say, chocolate cake and one of my girls were to come up and ask for a bite, I’d let her eat the entire piece.
I know that if it came between myself going out with a friend on a whim or my daughter’s dance class, I’d be tying up those jazz shoes for her.
I know that if I really desired to buy myself a fancy new purse but the budget only called for either that or summer camp, I’d forgo the purse.
I know that most of you would agree to behaving the same way.
We as parents, are rarely self-indulgent. But we sure worry about it a lot.
I know I do.
My life has been on a downward spiral for the last six months. My father was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. My grandmother, pivotal in my upbringing, passed away after withering down to 60 pounds. A health condition has rendered me unable to work or adequately care for my family.
Yet, I fear that I’ll appear self-indulgent if I talk about it too much.
I tell friends that my father is one of the lucky ones; he’s on the road to recovery. I don’t tell them that fear keeps me awake at night. That the worry of recurrence is never far from thought.
I tell friends that my grandmother had a fulfilling life; she’s in a better place. I don’t tell them that grief and sadness wracks through me at the most inopportune times. That I know it was her time but I wasn’t ready to let her go.
I tell friends that I’m fortunate because my condition is neither chronic nor fatal; I’ll be fine after surgery. I don’t tell them that the pain has me living a little too Valley of the Dolls. That the weight of it is wearing me out.
How often have you hidden how you really feel because of the same misconception?
We allow our friends and family to come to us with their concerns. In fact, we encourage it. We want them to know we are here for them. That we care.
When the truth is, we’re often not even here for ourselves.
How can we care for others when we cannot care for ourselves?
That is the sad question that we must ask ourselves. That is the truth that we must confront.
Because it is not self-indulgent to voice your fears, your concerns, your worries. It is not self-indulgent to take care of yourself. If anything, it is self-indulgent to think you don’t need to.
Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to feel what you feel. Stop worrying about what others will think. Stop judging yourself.
Treat yourself gently.
Care for yourself the way you care for others. That is not self-indulgent. It is self-preservation.