Mamas, Pledge Allegiance to Yourself - by Kathy Dixon for MotherHustle
“Life is a long-term game, and if we’re going to make it to our golden years with a spirit of joy and a legacy that precedes us, it’s high time we start choosing ourselves.”

Two years ago when John and I were in the thick of marriage counseling, quite literally, fighting for what would or would no longer be — we were taught a phrase that has stuck with us ever since: “It’s not a priority.”

Much like the words “authenticity” and “community” that have been overused and misinterpreted, the word “busy” had permeated our vocabulary in a way that we began leaning on it as a default “get out of jail” catch-phrase in our life and conversations.

(Sidenote: it’s important in life to surround yourself with people who will give it to you straight.)

Preferably, these people are unpaid, but in our case, he was very much paid. In an instant, our counselors’ brief and simple exercise removed the gray area between our values and beliefs. Moving forward, every time we were tempted to say, “I’m busy,” we were to replace it with the words, “it’s not a priority.”

Washing the dishes tonight is not a priority.” — Okay, I can get down with that!

Dating my husband is not a priority.” — Woof. Is that what you really meant?  

Getting in shape and creating margin for myself is not a priority.” — Now we’re playing with fire.

Much like the words I listed above, “self-care” has quickly climbed the ranks of words that make me breathe hot fire.

Too often I meet women, especially mothers, who have confused self-care as a choice. Instead, more and more I’m finding that the same women who could use margin the most are proudly sporting a badge of self-sacrificial (though well-intended) false-piety that somehow puts them at the bottom of every list. I’m going to get on my soapbox here for a moment, ladies.

Everything — I repeat, EVERYTHING — comes at a sacrifice.

Marriage, motherhood, business, your health and well-being — it all has built-in imbalance and conflict. The point is not to choose one over the other so much as it is to figure out which way your imbalance leans and tweaking as you go for the better of the whole.

There have been instances in my life that have marked me for a lifetime. The confessions of poorly chosen priorities from my father after a terminal cancer diagnosis. Witnessing the loneliness of my grieving mother, having built a life only around her spouse and children, finding herself in an unexpected outcome without friends or community. A marriage I became estranged from when we allowed work, parenting and pride to get in the way of our well-being as a couple.

Life is a long-term game, and if we’re going to make it to our golden years with a spirit of joy and a legacy that precedes us, it’s high time we start choosing ourselves.

Days at the spa and shopping sprees sound lovely, but none of those things are what I’m talking about when I think about choosing myself.

What I’m talking about are the non-negotiable things that keep me whole. The things that fill me up from the inside-out and help me put my best foot forward each day in gratitude. These are things that, once you decide on, I encourage you to own without the additional price tag of guilt.

In no particular order, here are a few of the ways I choose me on any given day:

  • Exercising. In particular, lifting with the guidance of a macro coach who spells it out for me each week. I don’t have to think about it, I have the built-in accountability to reach my goals, I enjoy it, and it works!
  • Weekly or bi-monthly manicures. Yes, it eats up the majority of my weekly budgeted “her $”, but paired with a cup of coffee and topped off with my favorite podcast or worship music playing through my headphones, it’s a 45-minutes exhale on an otherwise very full day.
  • Choosing confidence over criticism. You’re not where you want to be — I get it. But I’ve come to see that criticism takes about the same energy as believing in myself. I choose believing in myself.
  • Dumping out buckets and buckets of crap from our house. HOW ON EARTH did we accumulate so much? No one will ever know. I’d rather purge a few hundred dollars of things that are collecting dust instead of feeling the suffocation in an overly cluttered home.
  • Sleeping-in in lieu of the 5 am (or 4 am) hustle. In theory, I could wake up that early every day and knock out 1-2 hours of work (or bible study) that I’m otherwise frantically trying to squeeze into my days, but the reality is that I’m woken up no less than 2x per night to nurse a baby or calm a toddler whose circadian rhythm still seems to be off. I choose rest.
  • Taking the extra 15-minutes to put my face on. No, it’s not vain or unnecessary. It falls right in line with feeling confident and putting my best foot forward.
  • Routine mindset shifts to accept what is; i.e. dumbing down my expectations. Stuff happens, we’re in the season of raising littles, building businesses, and strengthening our marriages. No small feat. Sometimes you just have to change the way you think, which changes the way you act, and changes the way you feel! Brought to you from hundreds of dollars in counseling.
  • Extra early bedtimes to split a bottle of champs with the hubs. Because sometimes we throw caution (and calories) to the wind and opt for bubbles and late night talks though we know we’ll be paying for it deeply later that night and morning. Hello, 30’s!
  • And the one that has surprised me the most — getting deeply involved at our church and in our community. It has breathed life into my life and marriage. It has helped me see how God continues to use my scars for the better of others. I love it all deeply. It validates God’s purpose for me on earth.

So where am I going with all of this? Sometimes, friends, life is addition by subtraction. Other times it’s addition by expansion.

Choosing YOU doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be doing less. It means you’ll be doing more of the stuff that makes a difference in your world.  

If I’m honest with myself, so often my decisions are made out of fear instead of faith. It’s something I’m aware of, that I struggle with, and continue to walk out. Ironically, the longer I “mama”, I see that more is caught than taught by my littles.

I’m choosing an allegiance to myself with unquestioned conviction — because 20 years from now, I want these little boys to remember a strong mama who never lost herself while somehow being exactly the mother they needed.

Rock on, mamas!


MotherHustle panelist Kathy Dixon is the founder and creative director of Oh Yes Communications. She’s an Air Force wife and mama to Daniel and Zane. Kathy helps business owners share their stories bravely and boldly through branding and marketing services to highlight and heart and people behind their brands. Find her and Oh Yes on Instagram. 

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  • Catherine

    I love everything in here. Thank you for this!!

    March 5, 2018 at 2:10 am

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