Keeping Mom Well: Gray Hair, Self-Care

I quit coloring my hair about six months ago. It’s not a huge change, but my hair is more brown than blonde these days. Pretty quickly, I noticed the gray that had been hidden from me for years. It started with a few pieces in the front and on the sides. I can’t see the back, so I don’t know the full scope of how many strands are back there. I told my husband that he isn’t allowed to tell me. I can only assume that they are multiplying every day.

When I look in the mirror while washing my hands or brushing my teeth, I don’t miss the blonde hair and I don’t hate the grays. But I do miss the me time that comes from leaving the kids and hiding in the salon where no one needs me to do anything other than just exist for a few hours every six weeks.

With three kids, including one 2-year-old with Down syndrome, I recognize that it is important for my family that I find some time to get away. Most days, a chance to do this is hard to find, but in order for me to be my best and not Screaming Nagging Mommy, I make it a priority.

I am a better, more effective mom, wife and human when I can step away from the schedule, laundry, grocery lists, phone calls with providers and insurance companies, doctor’s appointments and worry that comes along with parenting. You spend so much time tending to the never-ending, sometimes extraordinary needs of everyone else that turn your hair gray, be sure to build in some time to take care of you, too.

3 Ways to Take Special Care

Talk about it — Sometimes just saying it out loud shrinks my stress and curbs anxiety. Talking things through with a trusted friend, therapist or even writing about it in my blog helps. I find that healthy ways to take a pause to vent or look for solutions is the best way to keep the dreaded “stinkin thinkin” at bay.

Take a break — Sarah Harrell, mom of Eli — Little Rock Family’s 2019 Cutest Baby — recently took a “momcation.”

“It was just me. I spent a weekend basically just doing what I wanted when I wanted with no one to answer to. It was fantastic.

“Now, don’t get me wrong, at first, I was guilt-ridden even thinking about planning it, but I needed some time alone to regroup because I felt like I was falling apart. It worked. I will do it again this year. Self-care is so important,” she says.

Accept help — “I have actually started taking people up on it when they offer to help me. It’s new and it’s awesome,” says Katie Thomas, Tavi’s mom.

When I posed this question to the ADSN group, accepting help wasn’t something that I had even thought of as self-care. My daughter has a feeding tube, a rigid medicine schedule and trouble breathing. Taking care of her has its scary moments and my husband and I don’t feel comfortable putting that stress on just anyone while we take some time off.

“Wallace isn’t one that I can just leave with someone else,” says Wallace’s mom Emily Williams. “Unfortunately, the trach life doesn’t leave much room for self-care. We are about to lose our nursing at night so I’ll be solo 24/7…

“Thankfully, I have my mom trained and she helps me a bunch with Wallace. A lot of his cares and such are two-person jobs.”

While most of us who have kids with special needs have gotten used to doing it all without leaning on others, it’s important to remember that everyone deserves a break.

Heather Honaker is circus ringleader for three kids under age 4 — two typical, one not, but they all think they are special. You can follow along as the messiness unfolds around her family by reading her Typically not Typical blog.

Originally published in May 2020 Little Rock Family.

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