As much as I wanted to stray from writing posts strictly about “mom-ming” and how challenging it is, I find myself in another parenting conundrum…. how the heck do I make time for myself??? Like, is that even OK? Today, I spoke with my friend who is coming into town for a workshop. I took a day off to spend with her and asked what she wanted to do. She gave me a list of things which included “see the kids.” As bad as it sounds, my heart sort of sank. Here I was planning a girls day with my best friend whom I hadn’t seen in almost two years, and she requests to see the kids. Mind you, the drive to where she’ll be staying in about an hour away and immediately I thought of all the things I’d have to do in preparation for having 3 kids in tow…. packing snacks, a diaper bag, a stroller, and planning to do things that are kid-friendly. I had envisioned our day being filled with fun activities for grown women… things I can’t really enjoy with 3 kids in tow… things I hadn’t been able to enjoy in a while. And I grew worried that my fun girls day was slipping away. I felt torn… and guilty. I knew it wasn’t right to keep my best friend away from my kids, who are also her God-kids, simply because I didn’t want to bring them. But then I felt annoyed that I would have to sacrifice something that I wanted to do for the bigger picture. We’ve since come to a do-able compromise, but I couldn’t help but be compelled by other times in which I felt the same way.
My days as a SAHM (stay at home mom)… as captured by Candice MacDonnell. Catch her work at https://www.candicemphoto.com/
When we become parents, our goals immediately change. What used to be so important turns out to be trivial in comparison with our children and how important they are to us. But in many cases, we, as parents, lose sight of who we are… who we were before the kids came around. It is so easy to get wrapped up in our roles as moms and dads that we often neglect taking care of our own needs or wants. Sometimes, it can even complicate the relationships we have with our significant others. as my husband and I have found out. One of our goals right now is to figure out how to balance time with each other and time for ourselves separate from the children. And I’m struggling, friends. With all the personal goals I’ve made, I still find it difficult to set aside time to work on them, without feeling guilty. For example, as I type this piece, my husband is down stairs watching television by himself. I should, by all means, be sitting with him… spending time with him. Even if he is engrossed in an anime movie (ugh). But I don’t want to! I want to write! I want to watch my boo in “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt!” I want to go to the gym and run on that amazing indoor track! But there’s a voice that keeps telling me, “you need to spend time with your husband… you know you need to. You are not being a dedicated wife if you don’t. And today I had the same feeling about the kids. “You need to really bring them with you to Denver. You need to be a good hostess and let your friend see her God-kids. What kind of mother doesn’t want to be around her kids?” I really wish that other voice would cool it a minute.
Now, I don’t mean for this post to offend anyone. But I felt this on my heart and it needs to be said. We, as women, are meant for more than being mothers. We deserve to have a life for ourselves too. I’ve always said that my children are a big part of my world, but they are not my entire world. Gasp! Say what? Yes, you heard that. I want to raise my children to not being totally dependent on my husband or myself. I want them, especially my girls, to know that it’s OK that mommies and daddies have lives and like to do things without them. It doesn’t mean we don’t love them, and it doesn’t mean that we don’t want to spend time with them. I just don’t want to spend every waking minute looking at my kids. Recently, I had a conversation with some women at work who were amazed that there are parents who, although they have the day off, still bring their children to daycare. They both commented that when they were little, they went everywhere with their moms. I explained that it is important for these parents, many of whom are active duty soldiers, find time to take care of themselves. Perhaps, it’s just a tad bit easier to get errands done without a 3-year-old nagging to use the bathroom every 10 minutes or throwing a tantrum in the grocery store because he or she wants to buy the chocolate cereal. It might be nice to go on a day date with your spouse to a place that the children would never enjoy. One of them retorted that when you have kids, that’s your only responsibility and that if some of the parents spent some time with their children, many of them wouldn’t act so difficult. I did agree but also charged back that my mom took me pretty much everywhere with her and I did not really enjoy the majority of the things she dragged me to… that I would’ve much preferred going to the sitter’s house or to a day care than to a nun’s birthday party. And true, there are some moms that bring their kids everywhere. But it might be because they don’t have a sitter available or that they don’t want to spend the money on a sitter. And some moms simply might like spending every waking minute with their kids in tow. Who knows?
There has to be a way to be able to get what I want and balance that with my responsibilities as a parent and a wife. I’ve been able to blend the latter two but struggle with the first without feeling those pangs of mom-guilt. While I know the precious years of having the children in the house go by so quickly, and that it is foolish to wish those years away, I also know that my youth will also fly by just as quickly and I don’t want to look back and wonder what I did with my life for so long. I don’t want to get wrapped up in raising kids that I forget what it’s like to really live. Again, I will repeat that I love being a mom and that my kids are a big BIG part of my world, but they will never be my entire life. And that has to start with me starting something… something that is just for me… something that is just for my husband and I… something that I want. I refuse to believe that it is too late.