As a mom, you are cursed with this phenomenon called "mom guilt." It's that awful feeling that you get when you take a shower and pray nobody comes in the bathroom, when you stay in bed five extra minutes even though the baby is awake, when you pee with the door closed and your toddler on the other side begging to join you, when you go to work and have to leave that amazing little person you love so much with a caretaker or family member, when you get frustrated because someone has been literally latched on to you all day long, when you decide to take the evening to watch tv instead of cleaning up the house and tackling the pile of laundry. You question any decision that allows you to take care of you, and if you're not careful, pretty soon, you forget how to take care of you all together.
Welcome to my life.
I have spent so much time over the past two and a half years taking care of everyone else. I spend my days running around like a crazy person, tackling multiple projects at once. I have had panic attacks as I worry that the 30 seconds I spend sitting on my bum could be better used sweeping the floors or just answering one more email. I've had my days planned down to the last second, stressing out if I take an extra two minutes in the shower, because then I need to retrieve those two minutes somewhere else in my day which means I probably should not take the time to make a proper lunch, and instead will quickly grab a slice of cheese and a quick drink of water. I've lost time just playing with my daughter because if those dishes don't get clean before she goes to bed the world just might end.
It's absurd. I'm losing my freaking mind. I'm over it.
I decided as we headed into the new year, that this would be the year I found my balance. It's a word that is coming up a lot lately. But more than finding my balance, it is about finding myself again. I've always been a bit uptight and a lot type A, but it's starting to cross a line. I'm missing out on the beauty of all of the amazing things around me - my daughter, my husband, my dog, my business, myself. To do this, there need to be rules (because I'm type A, and that just doesn't go away). Here is what I have been working on over the past month:
- Kiss the mom guilt goodbye (well, almost). It is OK if my husband gets up with our daughter. It is OK if I pee with the door closed. It is OK if I need to go to work. It is OK to go to the grocery store by myself. It is OK to ask for help.
- Take the night off. Last fall I found myself working 7 days and 7 nights a week. I never got to recharge, and I paid the price, and my family paid the price. I'm setting boundaries now while my work life is a bit slower in hopes that when my busy season picks up, a modified routine will be easier to adopt.
- Go to the gym. I went to the gym for the first time in 5.5 years this week. It was amazing. I never really loved the gym, but now I'm realizing that at the gym, nobody needs me, except for me. I can't read my email. I can't make a meal. I can't clean the house. I can't edit photos. I CAN listen to some awesome music, read a book, watch a video, and visualize myself getting skinny. I CAN be in my own head for an hour and truly 100% focus on what I need to do for me.
- Put down my phone. My phone plays such a huge part in feeling like I am being pulled in 100 directions. It beeps all.the.time. I'm going to tell you a secret - are you ready?? - if you don't look at Facebook for an hour, and if you don't respond to a client email in 5 minutes or less, nobody is going to die. True story.
- Play. I've realized how much I tell my daughter "in just a second..." "after I do so and so.." "I just need to do this one thing and then I'll come play..." The thing is, none of the other things I have to do is as important as playing with my daughter. Plus, she makes me laugh so hard it hurts, and that is good for my soul. Playing with her is "me" time.
- Hang out with my husband. We are both in graduate school. We are both parents. We both work full time. We have a million priorities, and for awhile we forgot to prioritize us. Spending time with my husband counts as "me" time. When we focus on us, and not the crazy that is all around us, we return to that silly happy we were when we first met 8 years ago, that silly happy we struggle to find between our insane class schedule, time with our daughter, house priorities, and work. When we are "on" he reminds me who I am and gives me the confidence to believe in myself as me and who I fundamentally want to be as a person.
It's a lot of goals, but with a big payoff. Moms out there - don't lose you. And when you realize it's happening, get it back. Because all of those things that pull you away from who you are are the things that need the awesome person you always have been. Take the time to find yourself because it IS about you, as much as you feel like it no longer should be.