We’ve all had it at one time or another. It can come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe it’s something that eats at you every day. Maybe it’s something that creeps up here and there. Regardless of how or when you have it, the reality is that you aren’t alone.
When I was in the midst of my post-partum anxiety, I felt it all the time. It would eat me alive. I was sure I was doing everything wrong. I would lose my temper with my oldest. I would despise getting up in the middle of the night with my youngest. I couldn’t keep the house spotless. I wasn’t spending enough time with my first born.
These thoughts ran through my head constantly. They had me convinced that everything I heard or saw regarding parenting was about me. I was a bad mom because I didn’t breastfeed, I was a bad mom because I bed shared, I was a bad mom because I had an epidural, etc.
Luckily, I got myself some help, and these ridiculous thoughts stopped. I realized that I was doing the very best I could, and that it was all okay. I wasn’t a bad mom. I’m not a bad mom. And neither are you.
Last night I had a flash of mommy guilt. I get them every now and then, as I’m sure you do too.
It has been a long week with my littles. The youngest is teething, and has a cold. He has also 100% entered toddler-hood. He is into everything he shouldn’t be. He is testing his limits, and testing my patience. His big sister is on the verge of becoming a threenager. She is sassy, and strong minded. The two of them have started fighting like brother’s and sister’s will. Neither of them have been sleeping well. I’m sure many of you can relate. I know I am not the only momma going through this right now, but that doesn’t make it easier to go through it.
It was getting late, both kids were tired, but both kids were refusing bedtime. I hadn’t been able to exercise earlier in the day, which has become a refuge for me. My husband took number two upstairs to put him to bed, so I told number one that mommy was going to do her workout, and that she could get cozy in her spot (she has a designated couch spot that she has referred to “her spot” since she could say those words) while I did it, and then we would go to bed.
This did not end well. It took me forever to get through my half hour work out. She wanted to build a fort, she wanted to make a tent, she wanted me to read her a book. I kept saying “hold on, mommy just has to finish this”, and each time mommy guilt would rear it’s ugly head. I felt guilty that I was saying no to her requests. I felt guilty that I was taking time to myself and not giving her my 100%. I considered turning off my DVD and building a fort and a tent and reading a book. But in the end, I got my work out done. I took a shower. We went upstairs and snuggled until she fell asleep. And she was completely fine.
You see, there are all of these voices telling us and reminding us that our children are only little once. That a time will come when they will no longer ask us to do things with them. That their needs should always come first. That taking time for ourselves will somehow turn them into serial killers.
So here is my question, momma’s, where do we draw the line? When is it okay for us to say, “You know what? Momma needs some time.”?
I’ll tell you what I am slowly figuring out. It is okay to take some time for yourself. In fact, it is completely necessary!
Don’t get me wrong, my children do, and always will come before myself. However, if I don’t take care of myself, of my needs, I can’t be the kind of mother they deserve. If 9 times out of 10 I do make the fort, or read the book, but there is one time that I need MY time, that doesn’t make me a bad mom.
If I have the week that I’ve been having with my little’s, and I am excited to be able to run out the door to work at my brother’s store, that doesn’t make me a bad mom.
It doesn’t make you one either.
Next time mommy guilt tries to get the best of you, remind yourself that you are doing the best you can. Tell yourself that you matter too. Look in the mirror and remember that you are still a person beyond being a mommy. Don’t let it get the best of you. And always remember, you are not alone.