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Monica Portogallo considers those times when denying ourselves self-care is a result of pride.

Whether through societal expectations or internal pressure, a lot of mothers, myself included, can get the misguided idea that self-care is the same as being selfish. Granted, what is sometimes called self-care can be selfish. Impulsively leaving to spend a week at a beauty spa in the name of self-care, without making arrangements for your children and your other rightful responsibilities, could definitely be considered selfish. 

Self-care doesn’t necessarily mean indulging in luxuries like spa days, though. Self-care is doing what you need to take care of your personal physical, spiritual, and emotional needs. It can be routine doctor and dental visits. It might be getting emotional support from friends or helping professionals when you need it. Physical activity is self-care. Some days, letting the dishes sit in the sink for an extra hour so that you get a much-need nap is self-care. Spiritual reading and prayer can be self-care. 

What happens at times, especially to mothers, is that we get the mistaken idea that we are too busy to do any kind of self-care; we have too many responsibilities that only we can do. Sure, there are things that by their nature only mom can do, like breastfeeding a baby who won’t take a bottle of pumped milk or formula. This is certainly not always the case. 

Sometimes, this even becomes a prideful notion. We can get the sense we are somehow stronger than other people and don’t have the same human needs and weaknesses others do. We can think only we are competent enough to accomplish tasks “correctly,” and therefore no one else can shoulder any of our responsibilities. We might think that what we have to do is too urgent to put off in the name of even basic self-care. 

When I get into this mindset, I try to think of Jesus in Luke 5:

The report about [Jesus] spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray. (Luke 5:15-16)


Jesus took time for spiritual self-care even when people needed Him! Is anything I have to do more important than Jesus’s earthly mission was? Am I somehow stronger or more competent than Jesus was?


Click to tweet:
We get the mistaken idea that we are too busy to do any kind of self-care; we have too many responsibilities that only we can do. #catholicmom

Proper self-care, at its heart, is being humble: recognizing that we have human needs, weaknesses, and limitations that must be addressed. It is looking at ourselves honestly, knowing that we simply cannot sacrifice our own needs every time without falling into pride, resentment, or burnout.

After all, that’s not what Jesus would do.


woman sitting on broken tree branch, looking out at cloudy sky


Copyright 2021 Monica Portogallo
Image: Pixabay (2019)