I write this as I sit at a seaside restaurant alone in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. Initially, I found every reason to cancel going to Charleston for the day. “What if my husband gets off late? What if something happens at the daycare and he can’t get to the kids? What if traffic is bad and he has to get them ready for bed by himself after I promised that I’d be home before bedtime?. Is it okay to be so far away from them? My daughter loves the beach. It’s not fair for her to miss out because I want some alone time” Then, I started considering what would happen to myself if I decided to skip my day trip. “How would I continue to cope with the never-ending Mommy-Do List? Can I continue to pile on more stress? When would I get the opportunity to go on another trip alone? Can I continue to live on the edge of my emotions’ because I feel so bogged down.” So Here I am, mom guilt aside. Sitting with a beautiful view, margarita in hand, typing this blog.
Why is Mom Guilt a thing? Why do we experience this crippling feeling of shame and self-judgement when we attempt to do something for ourselves? If we have a bit of “down time” at home, we tend to push it aside, opting to clean, cook, do laundry, declutter, etc. instead of simply relaxing. Yet, still, at the end of the day, we feel as though absolutely nothing was accomplished, despite our efforts. So there we are, feeling inadequate because our home remains in shambles, but we are still exhausted and stressed because, yet again, we did not spend any of this time recharging our mind, body and spirit.
However, for some reason, we feel that if we just complete that one last task, we can relax. If we were to fold that final piece of laundry, it would be okay to binge watch our favorite show while our children sleep. If we completely prep a week’s worth of clothing, plan out specific activities, take care of all the bills, maybe, just maybe it will be okay for us to spend a night away to protect our sanity. Yet, we still push ourselves and our needs aside. Does anyone else feel like they are less than a good mom for simply wanting a little break? Do we not so rightfully deserve a break?! We cancel attending a dinner with our friends because we fear our children won’t be able to fall asleep feeling secure if we aren’t there to give one more kiss. If we aren’t there to pat their back, as my daughter claims she needs.
But where does that leave our happy tank? Where is our sense of fulfillment, happiness, balance and just the necessity of simply existing in a moment? How can we be the absolute best wife, mom and friend if we aren’t at our best? And being at our best means making ourselves a priority. It means sharing the burden of parenting with our spouses. Sure, we don’t think that they can make that bottle to the perfect temperature like we can. Maybe they don’t know that your baby likes her face rubbed a specific way to fall asleep. Maybe he doesn’t know the exact temperature that she prefers her bottles. Maybe he won’t experience the same anxiety you feel, constantly peaking in at night to make sure they are still breathing. But that’s okay! Just because they parent differently doesn’t mean that it is any less correct or loving than your ways. Share the burden!
I encourage you to take the trip! Go out to dinner with your friends! Spend your day off binge watching your favorite shows so that you can enjoy talking about it the next day with your colleagues. I, personally, am sick of being excited for the upcoming, new episode of Sofia the First! And I’m even more tired of missing out on life experiences because I feel like I only have one identity: Mom.
So here’s to 2018. I’m sure we will never feel 100% free of the Mom Guilt, but let’s take care of ourselves, without feeling SO guilty. I’m not saying that it is possible that we won’t have lingering feelings that tug at our heart. We are always going to feel as though we are being stretched in so many different directions. But let’s try to love ourselves and give ourselves some grace, without it making us the absolute worst parent ever!
Editing this to include that my daughter was on her absolute worst behavior ever after my day trip to Charleston. It’s almost like I was being punished for taking some time for myself. But guess what? That trip was totally worth it. It made me realize that I need to take more time for myself and hopefully, just maybe, in the near future I can have an entire night away to myself. Fingers crossed!