We talked to #BlackGirlMagic creator and mother CaShawn Thompson about her current self-care situation and why moms shouldn’t feel bad about being nice to themselves while raising humans and expending all their motherly mojo.
How would you rate your self-care on a scale of 1-10?
A strong 7, coming up on an 8.
What are you doing well for you right now?
I’m sitting doing nothing. Not even thinking about what’s happening for tomorrow. I’ve taken those thoughts out of my head for the night. It takes me about 45 minutes when I get home to wind down. I can talk to my family when I get home. And I can chill when I get home. And I’ve done both.
What could you be doing better or differently?
I take my self-care one day at a time. Maybe I could be thinking about it more. Planning my nothingness rather than just falling into it. Scheduling my time to do nothing at all, appreciating that I have that flexibility. There’s nothing holding me back from that, not even the guilt that I used to feel.
What is self-care to you?
I’ve never really thought about my self-care. For the past 25 years I feel like I’ve been taking care of other people—my kids and other people’s kids. I feel like there are small pockets of nothingness in between when I get to do nothing. That is self-care to me. It’s not necessarily doing something in particular. It’s the freedom to do nothing at all. But I wasn’t always here.
What changed the game for you?
It was the moment that I stopped glorifying being busy. When I stopped being concerned about that, these intermissions became more common and longer to me. It became very “I deserve.” I do deserve.
Even if it’s just vegging out on my couch and doing nothing. That’s what self-care means to me.
My life was going from a kid to an adult just like that and taking care of people for 25 years. The freedom to do absolutely nothing—that’s my self-care. Knowing that I don’t have to do anything if I don’t want to, and that it’s okay. It feels great to not get dressed, put on my robe and watch some shit on Netflix for six hours.
For me, it’s not necessarily getting a manicure, going to get my hair done, or writing poetry. I just want to chill. If I’m not at work taking care of somebody’s child, I’m at home taking care of somebody else child. So I love quiet and stillness.
Only in the past year as my kids have become adults, those intermissions became longer. When they were younger, when I put them to bed at nine, those two hours I had was my self-care. I did next to nothing.
With the packing lunches, the cleaning, the preparing clothes, those pockets of nothing were so small. I savored it by doing nothing.
How do you love on yourself and get back some of that motherly mojo you expend?
As a young mother, I experienced shame then around taking care of myself. Women around me from previous generations used to bully me for doing stuff for me. They would tell me, “You’re a mother now. You’re a woman now. Your life isn’t yours and everything is about them now.”
But I stopped feeling shame about that around 10 years ago ago. I started living for myself. Taking trips. Being good to myself.
That’s right. You gotta treat yo’self.
We carry so much shame as parents and mothers. We think, “There’s always something to be done.” I learned that you can always do nothing and everything will be okay.
Once I shook all that weight off, I relished my time of nothingness.
I deserve like shit. I laid around and felt zero guilt. I didn’t love or parent my kids any less. I just poured into myself more.
When you deal with mental illness—like me and my depression—those times feel 180 degrees from other times because I physically can’t get up. And I’m messed up mentally and emotionally but I still have to provide, so I need that time to recharge.
Shoutout to leaning into the nothingness.
Exactly. It’s about being purposeful in your nothingness.
How do you navigate those intergenerational parenting differences and find?
That nothingness was always bone of contention with my mother when my kids were young. She would always say, “You don’t get no breaks, you a mom. You sacrifice everything. You don’t come first.”
I hate to hear people tell moms that. You’re denied pleasure and feeling good and don’t deserve good things because you’re a mom and that’s bullshit.
Just like they tell you to put on your oxygen mask first on airplanes, you can’t pour from an empty vessel.
Your kids deserve to see you happy. It’s okay for your kids to see you not doing anything. Your kids have to see you happy so they know it’s okay for them to be happy.
I heard that from the time I became a mother. I feel like I grew up with my kids. Now, my stepdaughters have kids, and I never tell them, “You don’t deserve to have joy.” I would never tell them anything that made them feel like they don’t deserve to have things or to be happy, just because they’re someone’s mom.
I don’t want them to lose themselves in the midst of being mothers because it’s not necessary.
Your joy is essential to their joy.
Exactly. In the quest to be a good mother, don’t worry about being perfect. Be a good enough mother. Your kids will be happy if you’re happy.
This stereotype of the long-suffering sacrificial stereotype—I never wanted to be that. Why I gotta die inside to be these kids’ mom? I always wondered, “What kind of mom can you be if you’re dead inside?”
I don’t believe in any of that. We all deserve.