Here I am, the night before Sonny's first ever day away from me, already feeling guilty for working a couple days my last official week of maternity leave. I've never taken any of the kids to daycare at this age, and I'm not usually one of "those moms" buuuuut suddenly, I am! He has literally never slept in a room without one of us physically next to him. Plus, he’s my last baby!
This really got me thinking about why we (moms) always feel so guilty about leaving our kids to fulfill our obligations, like work; even more so, why do we feel guilty indulging in a little "selfish" me time?
My husband is a GREAT dad, seriously awesome. I mean, could he help a little more with middle of the night feeds and house work? Sure, but he steps in when I'm overwhelmed, and always helps with the kids after work. He NEVER feels guilty taking time for himself. Beer after work with the guys? Doesn’t bat an eye. Week long ice fishing trip? On the calendar every year. I'm not faulting him for this, but I admit, it makes me a little jealous. At times I even question why he gets all this extra time to himself, when I don't. His answer is always the same, "Go do something, I'll watch the kids." (Insert eyeroll and RBF now) He really means it. Here’s the thing, even if I accept this offer, it always ends up being an hour trip to Target, alone, because guess what? Most of my friends have kids, and they "can't get away" either! We always put ourselves last, and we call that "motherhood."
While I wholeheartedly admit that motherhood is full of sacrifices, does it really come at the expense of losing who we are outside of our family? And my not-so-clear and fully a work in progress answer is...it doesn't have to!
I have a little history of postpartum depression and baby blues with my previous children, since the birth of our fourth little one, Danny and I have both been really conscious of how much time I get to myself. Guilt-free. No strings attached. In the beginning, it meant a little nap when he got home, or maybe a hot bath upstairs, while he banned the tiny tribe from even stepping foot on the landing of the stairs. As time passed, and I was cleared for activity, this turned in to an hour or so after dinner to go to the gym. The gym that I haven't been able to enjoy regularly since I got pregnant with our two year-old, because I felt bad leaving my family for my own selfish reasons every night. The gym that gives me back my sanity, allows me to decompress, AND makes me feel good about myself again. It's exactly what I need. I’m so annoyed with myself for not doing it sooner.
This little piece of the day, carved out to focus on just me, allows me just enough time to decompress from the toddler tantrums, baby cries, and school-age sass, to prepare me to take it on all over again tomorrow. I’m checked out from the stresses of motherhood, reunited with my hardcore prison rap, sweating it out, so I can outrun my daughter at her next soccer practice. Maybe the gym isn’t your cup of tea, it doesn’t have to be! We all have our own hobbies or activities that really make us feel like ourselves again. The ones that take us back to a time where we really felt like we were in our element and who we were meant to be. I really encourage you to make time for that again! Be the awesome mom that you are, AND the woman you were before her. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.
What I'm learning through doing this is, we are much healthier mothers to our children, and much saner wives for our husbands, when we consider that we also need time to decompress after our long day. Away from our family. We, too, need a little "momcation" with the girls for a weekend every now and then. We need to watch our Real Housewives with a glass of wine, uninterrupted. We need an hour long bath and a basket full of bath bombs from Lush to indulge in once in a while. We need it to appreciate all of the wonderful changes motherhood brings to our lives, without feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt when we reminisce on the carefree life before them.