• Locking in day trips, nights out - and more recently, Zoom nights in with my girlfriends, are also antidotes to self-neglect. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
My friend who went to treat herself to a bikini wax, was politely informed by her beautician there were two boiled lollies stuck to the side of her bikini line.
By
Nicole Azzopardi

12 Aug 2020 - 9:14 AM  UPDATED 12 Aug 2020 - 9:14 AM

“Come on! I’ll race you,” I yell out to our seven-year-old daughter one morning as we do the daily dance that is getting out the door on time. Dressed within the two-minute mark, I sock-slide into the kitchen seconds after her. “I won!” she shouts, triumphant again.

"Yes, you won," I concede happily. But something feels off as I pull on my boots.

My jeans feel unusually bulky today, like my shirt is tucked too far into my pants.

I reach back and like a magician pulling a stream of hankies from his hand, I pull out a big, black pair of underpants.

My entire family stare in shock at the extra pair of oversized underwear I’m waving high in the air and we spend the next five minutes — minutes I had been trying to save — falling about laughing.

“Oh, I love these stories,” says a close friend as I recounted the incident at a park several days later.

Laughing and whispering so we can stay out of earshot of the kids, she tells me of her friend who went to treat herself to a bikini wax, only to be politely informed by her beautician there were two boiled lollies stuck to the side of her bikini line.

Through tears of mirth, her story gets us talking about the price we pay for multi-tasking and the unspoken pressure we feel just to do the basics of life.

So often, we feel we come last on the list when it comes to the demands of family - but if we don't prioritise ourselves, who will?

If you are a mother, you will be highly aware that your bathroom time is no longer your own and it's a bonus if your toilet time features only one child visitation, rather than two or three - including the dog at times.

I'm not against a bubble bath, or a haircut, or even a yoga class when I need to relax but does it really leave me feeling nurtured? Does it really fill my cup?  So if not, why not? What does realistic, meaningful self-care really look like?

It’s not unusual for me to have a daily chat with my close friend and mother of two, Nathalie. Managing to have an uninterrupted phone conversation with each other definitely feels like an exercise in self-care.

Our reflections range from the hilarious to the paradigm shifting. They can also be like a kind of therapy as we debrief on the big things in our lives. A phone call to a friend is one of the only times we allow ourselves to check out of our tasks as parents – and for many of us, it’s one of the most important times of the day.

Locking in day trips, nights out - and more recently, Zoom nights in with my girlfriends, are also antidotes to self-neglect.

Locking in day trips, nights out - and more recently, Zoom nights in with my girlfriends, are also antidotes to self-neglect.

Getting together and having belly laughs about who you used to be, knowing we all shared similar dramatic changes to get to where you are now also provide the kind of self-care we crave.

At a recent dinner at our house when my kids and husband were away, my friend Michelle pulled out her phone to show us a highly attractive photo of herself in short shorts from ten years before.

“I looked fantastic but I didn’t know it,” she says.

We all agree, bonding over our lament of not having enjoyed our pre-baby bodies more.

I join in the banter, showing my guests a picture of myself beaming from a sweaty dance floor many years ago.

“That top I’m wearing is actually a scarf,” I said. “I just tied it on my back in a double knot and left the house.”

Now, after many years as a stay-at-home mum, the very act of walking out the door at all is a complicated act with young children in tow.

In fact, apart from time spent with friends, self-care to me at this stage of my life actually looks like dusting off my computer and going back to work.

Writing again feels like I’m revisiting an old friend I haven’t seen in a long time - someone I actually really like.

Writing again feels like I’m revisiting an old friend I haven’t seen in a long time - someone I actually really like.

This getting back on the professional horse, coupled with the long-term shock and awe of transitioning to parenthood, has been made easier by my own gradual acceptance and enjoyment of the person I have come to be. 

Perhaps this new level of self-regard is actually self-care in its highest form?

And although the scarf as a top has been replaced with several misplaced pairs of underwear, I have no regrets.

These days, I’d choose a sock slide for my kids over any dance floor.

Nicole Azzopardi is a freelance writer.

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