I was so overwhelmed and anxious as a young mother. I tried so hard to do everything just as you were “supposed” to because I was so afraid of hindering my kid’s developmental milestones, or even worse, scaring them emotionally. Plus, I thought if I did things perfectly, I could escape judgement from other moms and society. Maybe even escape the unsolicited comments, advice and judgement from complete strangers (yeah, right).
This post (above) made me realize something that I haven’t been able to place my finger on. Looking back on those days, it felt like I often had a choice to make to do something that was right and good for me but would deprive my child of some major emotional or physical need that was essential in having them develop properly. For instance, if I let my boys watch the television so I could take a shower, their brains would become mush (the list goes on- organic baby food, timed mat time, well rounded activities, the number of days at preschool). And if I decided to do something that was right and good for me (take a much needed trip with my husband, add an extra day to the preschool schedule, get a babysitter to workout or get my nails done!), I was so scared I’d be judged as selfish and detached. The pressure I put on myself was draining the life out of every sweet moment I had with my boys. And if I decided to take care of myself, the mom guilt I felt for doing so was suffocating. I couldn’t even enjoy the moment of self care!
Thankfully, once I started talking about my thoughts and feelings to trusted people (it’s an important distinction), I realized that this behavior of mine was going to be to my son’s detriment. I needed to put my oxygen mask on first, so I could be a healthy, balanced mom. I don’t remember my mom reading to me at night, having a schedule or a routine, helping me with homework or making me Eggo waffles with Nutella for the 366th time. She did not care for herself well. She suffered emotionally and physically, and it makes me sad for her because she missed some of the best years of her life.
Having those early years with my boys past me, I can see it so clearly. I can see two healthy 8 and 9 year old boys who are thriving. Not because I was doing everything I was “supposed” to back then (because I didn’t), but because I started to take care of myself. I had the physical and emotional energy to give them a routine, the 366th Eggo, to read to them at night (not every night). A mom free from guilt enough to know- “yes, I can put your plate in the dishwasher, but it’s important to me that you learn chores and responsibilities.” I wish I could go back and tell my young mama self to just take care of yourself because that’s what’s most important for your boys. And if that means you have to hire a babysitter to get your nails done, more power to you. Put your oxygen mask on first, and the rest will fall into place.
A great big thank to @thenortheastgirl for such a great post! Thanks for the inspiration!
Happy Mother’s Day!