Having My Son Taught Me 'Treating Yourself' Has Nothing to Do With Money

Aom - Nutthaumpan Inprom

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Aom - Nutthaumpan Inprom

Being confined to the house when I first had my son was one of the hardest things about having a newborn. He was born in April, right on the cusp of gorgeous weather after a brutal winter, and all I wanted was to be outside. I live for the outdoors, for beaches and parks and even my backyard. I had grand plans in my head -- us lounging around the firepit, our little family walking about cute small towns with him strapped to my chest.

Boy, was I wrong.

Apparently, babies really need to kept away from big crowds until they are vaccinated.

I know, I know. “DUH.” But until you have a new, fragile little life who sh*ts on a whim and needs to eat every three hours, you don’t quite realize how big, daunting, and dangerous the world is. Bugs that bite, piercing sunrays -- our doctors warned us that what is minorly uncomfortable to us could be detrimental to him. Although he totally encouraged little walks around the block, going much further or doing much more was strongly advised against.

So for a month, I holed up inside of my home, leaving for doctor's appointments and the occasional outing to a friend or family member's house.

  • As I watched the sun warm the earth from my window, my mental health retreated inward.

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    I had never spent so much time in my living room, and I began to get disgusted with the space.

    “Maybe I’ll get a new rug,” I randomly told my husband. Considering I was crying at the drop of a hat (goddamn hormones) my husband put up no fight. We were operating with a mutual “whatever makes you happy” mentality by this point.

    Often, we tell moms who are on the brink of exhaustion, depression, and exasperation to treat themselves. And because capitalism is really good at marketing, we often associate “treating ourselves” as making material purchases -- be it a new rug or a manicure or a fatty fast food meal. But the fact is it only satiates us for a while.

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  • I started scrolling through Amazon on my tablet for the perfect affordable rug.

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    But as I clicked around, I started noticing some other updates my home “needed.”

    “Ohhhh new end table lamps would be nice.”

    “Look at this gorgeous centerpiece for the dining room.”

    “You know what this house needs? PLANTS.”

    Before I knew it, my house got a feverish makeover. I wish I was exaggerating when I said my husband looked up one day and said:

    “WHAT DID YOU DO?”

    It was a fair question -- I sort of ended up drowning myself in things as a way to keep my mind busy, to sort of fill this weird, new lonely pocket. Although I was of course exhausted from taking care of my son, I was grasping at straws for some semblance of identity.  

    I realized that if I didn’t get out of the house, I was going to Amazon us into bankruptcy.

  • So I made one final purchase -- a mosquito net for the stroller -- and set to my new adventure: daily walks.

    Lauren Gordon

    I found this incredible park right by our house that was full of winding, walkable paths. Taking just myself and the baby (and of course his essentials), every morning I got lost for hours wandering along those paths. I’d listen to nature begin to wake up as my little guy snoozed snug in his stroller. I saw some of the same people every day. The elderly couple who held hands as they traversed the easier terrain, the biker who ferociously lapped me at least three times, and the moms who walked their curious toddlers around as they picked up rocks and sang little songs.

  • It was utterly blissful.

    Aom - Nutthaumpan Inprom

    In unplugging and taking time for myself in a totally existential way, motherhood suddenly became more bearable. The endless fussing and crying and uncertainty that faced me the rest of the day wasn’t as all-consuming. I had gotten out, breathed, and soaked up whatever amazing vibes Mother Nature was gifting to me.

    A lot of moms feel like they can’t ride the treat-yourself-train because they don’t have the money or time to be away from their little ones. And even though every mom’s needs are different, I really challenge them to think about how to make treat-yourself time a more fulfilling exercise. Read three pages of a book each day. Buy an adult coloring book. Walk around outside.

    Although I’m 99 percent sure half the crap I bought on Amazon won’t last a year, I do know that those memories I have will last a lifetime.