On paper, this summer was maybe the least remarkable of my entire life. Gone are the days of honeymoons, studying abroad, staying out late, and flipping over at intervals on the beach. I get nostalgic for those things sometimes, but the truth is that it feels like a lifetime ago when I was accumulating stamps in my passport instead of stains on my upholstery.
Believe it or not, I am coming off one of the best summers of my life. No big trips, not much in the way of going out or dressing up or really anything Instagram-worthy other than cute kids. This year, the little things made a big impact.
I joined the gym. Not a fancy one, either. And just to be clear, I did not lose a single pound. But I did drag myself in three times a week, worked my butt off (unfortunately not literally), and watched a crap-ton of the Kardashians and Real Housewives reunion episodes. I haven’t worked out for real since way before my kids were born, and I have definitely never enjoyed/appreciated it as much as I have recently. It has become much less about numbers and much more about me-time and stress management. It’s been worth every minute and every dollar.
I made a bunch of doctor’s appointments. I know, this is so very middle-aged of me. But I feel like an up-to-date cholesterol level, pap test, and glasses prescription gives that same sense of calm and order that you get from seeing a zero balance on a credit card statement. I also think it’s important to keep sending myself the message that my health is worthy of being maintained – and NOT just when I’m dying of a sinus infection.
I got my eyebrows professionally done. This is something that I have always wanted to do but have managed talked myself out of, given my access to tweezers and YouTube eyebrow tutorials. But getting my brows tinted and waxed was not that expensive, it made me feel fancy for 15 minutes, and it looks seriously amazing. I’ve been eyebrow-flirting with myself in the mirror ever since.
I bought and read a book. I picked up a paperback copy of The Glass Castle on a whim during a Costco run, and I loved it so much that I read myself to sleep most nights instead of bingeing Teen Mom 2 in the dark. Seriously though, it helped my sleep and made me feel like a human with a brain and feelings. I think it was good for my kids to see me reading sometimes too. In our device-centered lives, it’s nice to feel paper between my fingers once in a while.
I bought jeans in my actual size. I have written before about my weight struggles since my second child was born. Despite my best efforts at the gym this summer, I was not really able to make much of a dent in that situation. Instead of continuing to squeeze myself into my old jeans, I decided to indulge in a pair that fits properly. I’ve actually had several people tell me I look great since I’ve been back to work, and not a single person has asked to see the number on the tag. More importantly, I’m much more comfortable now that I’m not constantly tucking in my muffin top.
We parents spend 90% of our time and energy completely engrossed in the lives of our littles. Self-care is so important if we expect to maintain any sense of sanity and individual identity. Even small actions can make a big impact, which was pretty much the theme of my summer. Did I lose 25 pounds or become a literary scholar or completely make myself over? No. But I am starting off my school year refreshed, with a renewed sense of self-worth.