Yesterday, I celebrated my 25th birthday. I spent the majority of my day with my husband and both of our kids. However, there was a point in my day while we were shopping when I dipped into a few of my favorite stores alone and my husband took the kids to the play place. Why, you ask? Because I was being selfish and felt like taking some me time. (And lets be real – who wants to be shopping in Victoria’s Secret with their screaming baby and curious toddler?) If that makes me sounds like a terrible mom, then you need to start doing it, too.
When I was pregnant with my first baby, everybody I knew gave me advice. Most of it I paid way too much mind to and I spent the first year of her life trying to make sure I was living up to everyone’s expectations. I was sleep-deprived, stressed out, and spreading myself far too thin — basically, just a mess. A good friend of mine, and fellow mother, asked me if she could stay at my house with my daughter while I went out for some “me time”. I instantly remembered that during my pregnancy someone told me as a mother to make sure I make time to be selfish. I was mortified. Being a mother means being selfless all of the time. It means always putting the happiness and needs of your tiny humans ahead of your own. And that is what I was prepared to do. How could you be selfish and be a good mom? I not-so-nicely declined her offer.
Not long after that, I moved in with my mom and no longer had the choice to decline help. I had to go back to work and school, and I suddenly needed help watching my daughter. Slowly, I started to realize that I was becoming healthier; physically, emotionally, and mentally. It’s not that she didn’t make me happy, or that being a mom was a strain on my life. I have loved motherhood ever since the day she was placed in my arms. But, I felt this huge guilt on me that I was suddenly becoming a better mother, only because I was leaving her more. I never quite understood why.
Then, just a few months ago I ran across this photo online;
You can’t pour from an empty cup.
It made so much sense to me. How can we give our all to our children when we aren’t replenishing our cups every once in awhile? How can I be the best mom possible if I am not the best me possible? I am lucky to have a husband who understood, and he helped me to understand it. Being a parent does not make you only a parent. I am still a wife, a daughter, a friend, a sister. I don’t want my children to think that once they become a parent, they lose all their other sides to them. I am a stable mother because I am a selfish mother.
It’s May now, so the dreaded articles have started to take over my news feeds on social media. The ones about babies being left in cars because of parents who are so stressed or sleep-deprived that they just forget. I am not a judgey mom. But I can’t help but think that those moms do nothing but mother their children. I think back to when I was a new mom and that is all I did. It is so important for us parents, especially stay at home parents to replenish ourselves. Take a few hours a week to grocery shop by yourself, get your hair done every 6 months alone, go get a massage, go fishing, take a day trip somewhere, go on a date with your significant other, celebrate big events with your friends as adults!
If you aren’t a parent, it’s easy to judge me. It’s easy to think that this sounds like terrible mom advice. I get it. I thought the same thing. But as soon as I started allowing myself to be selfish again, I became the best mom my children have ever seen me be. And the best part is, I have a wonderful marriage, a great relationship with my sisters, brothers, and parents, and I have some really amazing friendships. Being selfish time to time made me learn how to balance it all and keep myself centered.
If you are a parent, new or not, my best advice to you; is to be selfish. Don’t hesitate to call for a sitter. Your babies aren’t going to remember the hour a week that Mommy was gone, but they will remember if you aren’t happy. They will know if your mind is not where it should be, and if you’re too frazzled, everyone suffers.
My kids weren’t with me any of these times:
But do they look like they resent me because of it? Or like they’re missing out on happiness?
Nope – my kids are the happiest little gremlins I know.
Be selfish. You and your kids deserve it.