I saw this on Facebook today.
And while I have to agree that moms are often underappreciated, I disagree with this post.
Most of it, anyway.
It is true for me that since becoming a mom, I haven’t had the pleasure of someone else feeding me more than a handful of times.
Very rarely am I asked what I need.
Very rarely does anyone charge my battery.
Those things I agree with.
What I disagree with is the sentiment coming from this post that it’s someone else’s responsibility to do that.
AND THAT IS THE PROBLEM MOMS NEED TO BE AWARE OF.
We spend so much time focusing on other people.
We take care of our kids.
We take care of our husbands.
We have nothing left for ourselves.
But we have made that choice. We have set up that system.
WE HAVE DONE THIS TO OURSELVES.
It’s largely a societal issue, I think.
Somewhere along the way we moms have either been taught or have come to believe in some form or another that all of our time and focus and energy has to go into other people.
We probably saw our grandmothers do this. And our mothers.
Perhaps we were influenced by magazines and TV shows and movies.
I have for sure modeled this for my sons and daughters.
I have shown them a woman who has become a sliver of what she once was in order to tend to everyone else’s needs.
And I’m no longer willing — or choosing — to do that.
It is one hundred percent my responsibility to take care of my kids.
But taking care of your kids and teaching them to be responsible, independent and productive human beings is not synonymous with seriously neglecting yourself to the point of posting on social media that you are not alright.
And if you are to that point, you have already inflicted damage on your daughters (and sons) yourself.
You have modeled this to them.
And it is up to you to un-model it.
Five years ago I started taking better care of my body. I started exercising consistently.
I made it a habit and a part of my regular routine.
I started modeling a more balanced existence to my kids.
That’s not saying much because I was so far off balance to begin with that the exercise didn’t exactly level out the seesaw.
It just got my end up off the ground a little bit. The other end was still sticking straight up toward the sky.
This past week was a revelation for me.
The kids had a staycation with their dad. (We are in the middle of a divorce but all still living in the same house).
I took the opportunity to stay at my parents’ house on five of those seven nights. They happened to be out of town, so it worked perfectly.
At first the thought of missing even a second of my kids’ lives was terrifying and bordering on debilitating.
I hadn’t spent that much time away from them in, well… ever.
I didn’t think I’d survive it.
But what I envisioned and what actually happened were not the same thing.
I pulled out of the driveway that first night, and I didn’t feel dread or sadness.
I felt relief.
The time away was amazing.
I was able to focus totally on myself for more than a couple hours for the first time in about fifteen years.
Focusing on yourself shouldn’t be something that falls by the wayside upon childbirth.
Teaching our kids that once you become a mom, everything becomes about everyone else is dangerous.
And it’s gotta stop.
It is our job as adults, as grown women, to take responsibility for our lives.
To stop blaming other people for the choices we are making and the systems we are putting into place.
We think that by doing all the things we are being the best moms we can be.
But we are actually making it impossible to be functioning at our best.
And then we end up posting things like we are not okay.
It’s not someone else’s job to feed you. You are an adult.
It’s not someone else’s job to provide some relief for you. You are an adult.
It’s not someone else’s job to sense when you need help. You are an adult.
It is your job to do these things. It is your job to ask for help when you need it. To delegate.
To let go and surrender.
When we don’t model this for our kids, when we pretend like we are superheroes who do it all without batting an eyelash, we are neglecting a major part of our children’s education.
We are sending the wrong message.
We are teaching them to do exactly what we are complaining about.
And we are instrumental in continuing the cycle.
This last week was eye opening for me.
Like slap-in-the-face eye-opening.
It showed me that I’m not taking good enough care of myself.
It showed me that I’m sending the wrong messages to my kids.
It showed me that I have a longer way to go than I thought I did in the self care department.
And it showed me that I have a lot to teach my kids still.
I have some unlearning to do.
Because what I learned is that this time away was necessary.
Reinserting some of my interests back into my life — the ones I had before I got married and had kids — is imperative.
Setting boundaries about what I am willing — and not willing — to do, and then sticking to them must become a priority.
Not allowing myself to get to the point where I am depleted is crucial.
And here is another thing I have realized I must teach and model for my kids.
Having financial independence and the freedom that comes with it is VITAL.
Especially for girls.
If there is anything I’ve dropped the ball on as a mom it’s that.
Financial freedom gives you choices. It gives you options.
It stops you from having to depend upon anyone else to have your needs met.
And it affords you the option for child care if and when you need it.
And you will need it.
I am not raising my girls to think it’s their duty to neglect themselves upon becoming a mother.
In fact, starting today, I’m raising them to know — and believe — just the opposite.
Because I refuse to continue the cycle for one more day.