Out of nowhere, as we were snuggling before bed one night, Reagan started randomly singing a song she had made up. It went like this, “I love Mommy, I love Mommy because she is so nice and loving.” She repeated it three times in a row and then moved on replacing “Mommy” with “Daddy.” Next, she continued on adding in “sissy.”
As she rounded the end of the third repetition of Sissy, I was ready to praise her with how much I loved it. To my surprise, she wasn’t quite done. Starting her fourth verse, my mind anxiously awaited who else she was going to add in that she loves. And what I heard next made my heart smile:
“I love ME, I love ME because I am so nice and loving.”
YES, baby girl! Yes! How often do we as adults teach our children to love thy neighbor, love thy parents, love thy friends, love thy relatives. And yet, do we really dive into how important it is to love thyself?
I mean, at 6 years old, it doesn’t seem like something that is important. But, let me tell you, at 36 years old, loving myself – who I am, what I have overcome, and who I still strive to be – is now part of my every single day self-reflecting thought process driving my next steps in life.
And that did not happen overnight – learning to love myself again. In fact, if I am being honest, I got to a point in my life where I had pushed loving myself so far down on my to-do list that I hadn’t even realized how far out of love I had fallen with myself. There I was, just muddling through – one foot in front of the other to make it through another grueling week.
Everyone else was loved on and cared for, work handled, all the lunches packed, laundry done (well clean anyway), toilets scrubbed, kids transported to extracurricular activities, homework completed, and dishes done. By that time all of those things were complete, I didn’t have the time or the energy to love on myself. My cup was empty – there was just simply nothing left to pour.
If I am being honest, some days the cup was empty before I even got to the dishes and they just waited another day. Or it ran dry on the third time that I asked the girls to brush their teeth and then went into crazy mom mode. It just seemed like the more and more I gave, the less and less I had to give.
Nothing, no one, was filling up my cup.
Seriously guys, for years I went on like this – drained at the end of every day – just trying to make it to the next one without the wheels falling off everywhere. Until I finally realized that I had poured love so hard into everything around me that the thing I was totally missing was pouring love into me.
And no, I didn’t even find that conclusion – actually, let’s call it a starting point – on my own. With a little help from an amazing counselor and a ton of help from some God-sent friends, I learned just how important it was to focus on me – who I was, where I was, who I wanted to be.
And it has taken some time – a lot of time – and a really focused path of prayer, boundaries, learning to say “no” and letting go of people and things that were negatively holding me back from growing and loving myself.
At times, it has been super rough – learning to love that shell of a person and growing her back to someone I am proud of. But I didn’t stop – oh, there were some days that I wasn’t sure I could do it – plenty of setbacks. However, the momentum of every small breakthrough – kept those wheels turning until all of a sudden I couldn’t stop bettering myself for myself and, most importantly, my girls
While I have come a long way but am still not quite where I want to be, do you know what I noticed? Since I have taken the time to pour into me – my happiness – and loving myself and who I am, my cup still has something left in it at the end of almost every day.
More importantly, even better than what I noticed, is WHO also noticed: my girls.
Every single rough part of this journey of finding and falling back in love with myself has shown my girls just how important it is for them to love themselves as well. And for that, I would do it a million times again.
“I love me, I love me because I am so nice and loving.”
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her daughters and writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.