When I was a kid, my brother and I used to trade off on setting the table for awhile. Whenever we were the one to set it, we would make sure to give the other one the nicest fork. In my mom's family, there was a misshapen spoon that the table-setter would give himself so that no one else would have to have it. That's called charity: giving the others the nicest things and keeping the worst for yourself.
But what about when you're a mom, and find yourself being the cook and the tablesetter every day? Day in, day out, you take the worst piece of chicken, the smallest piece of pie, the bruised apple. It's not a big deal; you love your family and you want to give them the best.
On the other hand, being a mother doesn't suddenly mean that you don't matter. I've realized lately that I always hesitate to take something that I would freely give to the others. For instance, meat. It's expensive. I try to scrape by with as little as possible to save money. But I always let my husband take seconds and bring the leftovers with him for lunch. Then I fill up on PBJ (which I love) and slices of cheese. When it comes to making my own lunch, it just doesn't seem worth the trouble to make something nice.
I don't think I'm being fair to myself. Just because I want to put others first doesn't mean I should act like I don't matter. PBJ's are delicious, but would I be happy with my son eating nothing but sandwiches? Not really. I make sure he gets eggs, bacon, foraged greens -- whatever is nicest. In fact, that's the only way I get myself to eat any real meals: I eat what he eats.
Technically, since I'm still nursing, and since I would like to prepare myself for another pregnancy in case that ever happens, I should be putting forth extra effort to make myself healthful things to eat. No one else in the family is likely to get pregnant any time soon.
This holds true for other things, too, though I have less of a problem there. I don't chastise my husband for relaxing on the couch on a weekend, though sometimes I feel guilty for doing it myself. (Not always, though -- relaxing is my superpower.) And I almost never leave the baby at home when I've got somewhere to go, even if my husband is available, and even though he doesn't take the baby on his errands. I tend not to ask for help, even though I need it, because I should be doing everything myself.
I'm not saying I should be lazy, or that I should leap on my husband the instant he gets home from work and demand he do all the housework I didn't do. But I am saying I should give myself permission to ask for the help I need, to go places on the weekend and leave the baby at home from time to time, or to relax on the couch for half an hour between chores. I suspect that the more kids I have, the harder it will be to do this, so I have to make it a habit now to examine my own needs and see how I can fulfill them along with everyone else's.
Today, I made lacto-fermented corn relish with lots of cilantro. John won't like it. I will. And when he asked if I wanted him to go to the store and bring the baby with him, I said YES. And pick me up some butter pecan ice cream while you're at it. :D