Wednesday, 13 August 2014

You're not being selfish. The Balancing Act of Motherhood...

So it's been a year.  An entire year since I've written.  So much has happened, I've gone from bringing my shopping cart cover every time I went out with my sweet little 14 month old baby to letting my two year old eat unwashed fruit and a cookie from the grocery store right before dinner so that I can pay for my groceries without needing to drink wine on the ride home.  The reason I've really calmed down in the germ department is because my son is a thumb sucker.  And lets be honest, considering he sucks his thumb whenever he remembers to, there is only so many times you can wash a kids hand before you give up and let him eat that week old goldfish from the sandbox.  I'm sure it builds character or his immune system, or something.  So, somewhere in the middle of all that, I forgot to write.  Something I love, but silently left on the back burner while trying to balance work, family, and home.

Being a working mother brings a whole new level to motherhood that, as always, you never realize how hard it’s going to be until you’re smack dab in the thick of it.  Taking last minute sick days, when you’re perfectly healthy, because fevers of 103.7 only hit at 3:23 in the morning just to insure you become further behind in your professional responsibilities while you debate the age-old debate of seasoned mothers… to walk-in or not walk-in (that is the question).  While you’d rather throw yourself onto a pile of broken glass then sit in a waiting room way longer than the battery on your phone, three cheese strings, and a bag of crumpled gold fish crackers can handle… you try to weigh out the risk of your child contracting H1N1 from the disgusting old books on the waiting room table that you can actually see the influenza gleaming on the raincoat of Paddington bear, to whether after waiting seven back-to-back episodes of Bubble Guppies and a full tantrum later, the doctor will look in your kids mouth, pat you on your head, and send you off with nothing but a prescription of "come back if it gets worse".  And having a sick child is just the half of it.  The other half of the time, there is that mad rush in the morning to take care of absolutely everything in the household… from lunches to remembering his favorite sippy cup for his lunch time milk, because God forbid you send the wrong one – your husbands whole day will be ruined. 

I knew when I first got pregnant that being a mother would be a challenge, but I didn’t realize that work would become a daily mini-vacation where I had the opportunity use the washroom without a demanding audience who must wave a proper goodbye to each and everyone of my poops.  And the challenge of it all is trying to shut off the “Mommy” so I can become the adult professional that I used to be.  While I put up a good front, I still tend to have a running commentary about my actions going through my head like, “Oh darn it, Mommy forgot to grab her keys.”

Balancing it all becomes the greatest challenge of all, and at the end of the day it’s you that gets the beats.  Whether you are lucky enough to have a ridiculously supportive husband or not, there comes a time when the garbage gets taken out and they stare at you with those eyes seeking acknowledgement of their above and beyond actions of caring for the household.  Causing you to stop and ask them which bakery you should stop at on the way home from work to pick up their hero cookie.

Right now my house lays in the constant state of chaos with unmade beds, crumbs from this mornings thrown breakfast the floor, a spare room that has been dying to be reorganized and cleaned for months, a stack of paperwork the size of one of the Roloff’s (the Mom maybe, not the Dad... he's a bit taller) stares at me mocking me with every typed word.  Friends remain unmessaged, not called, not texted as I sit here and decide to, for the first time in over a year, write.  A hobby and passion that I adore, but never and mean ever have the time for.  Something always needs to be done.  Laundry always needs to be folded.  Dinner always needs to be made.  Boo boos need to be kissed and trains always need a co-conductor.  Husbands always need their wife.  Kids always need their mother.  And Mom’s?  We sacrifice just about everything to keep our (ahem, their) world running as smoothly we possibly can.  And by smoothly I mean some nights we have eggo waffles and scrambled eggs for dinner while the little guy wears mismatched socks (kids socks are so tiny, it’s nearly impossible to never lose one).  ...But what about me?

It’s a loaded and selfish question isn’t it?  It's a time in our lives where the 'mom-guilt' clouds our better judgement and makes it seems like there is a fine line between the good mom who devotes her whole life to her family, and the devious mom done with motherhood.  You know the ones treating it like a job that she’s put enough time into, having affairs because their planned families selfishly took away their twenties, who have left their husbands to pick up the slack of the parenting department while they run to rent a time machine to take them back to the speakers at Armani’s with a vodka-cran and glow stick?  But chances are you aren’t “her”.  You’re not asking for a medal, or to take a year sabbatical from your family as you lie on a beach sipping mojitos.  You’re burnt out, needing 63 minutes to yourself to not even do something fun like go for a coffee with a friend, or get a much needed pedicure on your feet so you don't look like you suffer from leprosy.  You’re burnt out and needing 63 minutes to yourself to, wait for it, do things for your family.  You're not being selfish because you want to get your groceries alone without carting along your toddler who will have the tantrum of all tantrums if you don't let him run in and out of the automatic doors of Metro thirty-seven-hundred times or take a bite out of every single piece of fruit he sees.  There are some battles that we hope are just phases, that somedays, are just too tiring to fight Mama.  

Here's the thing you need to be reminded of.  It’s okay to ask for help, and to take people up on it when they offer.  And it’s okay to be upset at those you thought you could count on and consistently let you down.  More importantly, it’s okay to cut yourself some slack in the mothering department.  You're not selfish for needing some "you" time.  On the inside you may be so tired that you’re certain it’s unsafe for you to operate any machinery let alone be in charge of the welfare of your child – but you do it, and you will continue to do it.  Why?  Because you’re Mommy and the end all and be all to your little tornadoes world.  You have superpowers, the ability to cut the toast in the correct inch-by-OCD-inch size, kiss all make believe boo-boo’s better, have memorized all the songs from Bubble Guppies, and somehow (even at your self-perceived worst) are still the first person they want to play with.   The weight of the world is on your shoulders, and some days you feel like you're in over your head but those are the days you need push your ego aside and drop your kid off (at a willing persons house) for and hour or two, or for the day and take the time to recharge, get what you want to get done, or just sleep on the couch for the afternoon.  You’re not a bad Mom for needing some time to yourself, but know that you definitely won’t be the best mom if you don’t start putting yourself first once in a while.   Balance, Mommy.  You need balance.  You're not selfish.

            Just as much as your child need vegetables and socialization.  Just as much as your floor needs to be vaccumed and washed.  Just as much as your husband needs attention, and clean socks.  Just as much as your family needs groceries and a fresh home cooked meal.  Just as much as those creepy guys from Four Square need looser fitting clothes.  You need too.  You need time.  You need to recharge.  You need to be called by your first name.  And you need balance.  You cannot keep putting everyone else's needs first, without taking some time to yourself.  So stop, and make time for you, just like you make those lunches every morning because it needs to be done.  Make time to take that spinning class, or knitting club, or to take a run, or to write, or to read, or to have an impromptu wing night with friends, or even to drink wine alone while watching Sex and the City reruns.  Make the time.  Schedule it in.  Even for just an hour.  You need it.  You deserve it.  It's not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make happiness a priority -- after all, if you don't show your kids how to live a balanced and happy life... who will?

Seriously, this is someone's husband.  #banunitards

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