I spent the last weekend at the beach with my best friend. It was the perfect girl’s trip and I laughed and relaxed. There was no one to care for or chaos to manage. I did not have to play referee or personal assistant. I cleaned up only my own messes.
My husband spent the weekend with his children and my son spent the weekend with his dad. I even came home to a fairly clean house. Nothing fell apart during my absence, though I could tell my husband was pretty worn out.
While I was on the trip, a friend posted a picture on Facebook of her sleeping child. He was on the floor sleeping near a baby gate and she expressed a very great deal of remorse. She shared that she had yelled at him and left the room for a few minutes to use the bathroom. When she returned, he was fast asleep in the same spot she had left him.
She worried about how she was doing as a mom. My heart broke. She had not left him to feel abandoned. She left him to use the bathroom and to allow him to process his emotions. Sometimes we have to accept that a kid needs to feel what they need to feel even if those feelings hurt our egos or make us uncomfortable. Turns out, his feeling was really just exhaustion. Can you relate?
Why am I telling you this? What did this teach me? I want you to picture the last time you yelled at your kids. I don’t even want to hear that as a parent you have never once raised your voice to your kids. I am not buying it, no matter how great of a parent you are!
In that moment were you angry or overwhelmed? Did you want to convey frustration or cry for help because you thought you were drowning? Parental anxiety happens to all of us. We feel worry that we may not be doing something right. We feel judged if we tell another mom that we need a break. Our egos get in the way of our truths.
I decided that I would rather be judged for needing self-care than the children in my home having a drained parent. So we are clear, I am not talking about abuse, I am talking about yelling, exhaustion, and anxiety. If you are experiencing an abusive situation, I urge you to seek personal help and commit to self-care in that way. That is most definitely never acceptable. Children are precious. Do you want them to remember being raised by an angry or broken down mom? Of course not!
I coparent with several different people. All of them have confessed to being overwhelmed or needing help or yelling at the kids in some way. THIS IS NORMAL. Let that sink in. No one wants to be that parent that yells, but it happens. Let that guilt go and WORK ON IT.
If naps are your means of self-care, take them. Take 10 if you need to. If you need therapy or massages or days to yourself, do it. Do whatever you need to do to be the best version of yourself! Your children will remember that mom took care of herself as much as she took care of them and will practice this same incredible habit when they are adults. They are watching us. Even more than we can possibly know. What are we teaching them? Taking care of yourself does not in any way take away from your kids.
You’re with them all the time. You are their supporter, their encourager, their cook, their stylist, their tutor, and their confidant. You show up to everything. You teach them to be kind and responsible. You protect them from danger and allow them to just be children. There is no shame in recharging. You are doing hard work.
I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest
How many times have you portrayed the hero when you really felt like the victim? How many times have you wanted to just run away from your problems, but stuck it out? How many times as a parent have you wanted to find blame in everything and everyone else instead of having to look at yourself, but instead got honest and fixed your shortcomings? You are a rockstar, girl! Your kids see THAT.
Not one of our kids felt any less loved when I took a few days for a girl’s vacation. I came back refreshed to an excited crew and we all swapped stories of our time apart. There are so many good days in my home. There is so much play and goals accomplished and about a million moments when I am so proud of how I am crushing it as a parent. Then, I have days when I yell at my son because he has done the same thing 50 times even when I have asked him not to. IT HAPPENS. It happens to the best of us.
If you don’t have children, how many times have you reacted to something instead of responded? How many days have you been short with someone because you were tired? Honey, we have all been there. Self-care is for everyone. It promotes emotional intelligence and decreases anxiety and stress.
Self-care is not to be confused with self-centeredness.
I’m not saying take off and leave your kids for months at a time or even for good (unless that is best for everyone involved). I am not saying you should decide you’re too tired to pick your kids up and just not do it. I am not saying forget your responsibilities and do whatever you want all the time. Take them to appointments, keep your promises, consider their feelings or needs, and somewhere in between find time for YOU.
Self-care is not leaving children in distress and shrugging it off. It is not making children do without for our own conveniences. Those are the times you have to suck it up and make it right. Make it happen! Roll your sleeves up! But, how can you successfully do that if you have nothing positive to give your children? How can you teach them to be good adults if you yourself are not being a good adult?
Self-care and self-improvement involve a ton of self-awareness. You cannot work on yourself without first seeing yourself with honest eyes. You cannot improve your life without first seeing what is wrong with it. You cannot make room for God or for goodness without first removing evil, hate, and selfishness from your heart. I don’t care how many Sundays you spend in church.
So, look at yourself. Take it all in, the good and the bad. Decide what really matters to you. Where is the bad stemming from? Exhaustion? Worry? Guilt? Shame? Inability to be accountable? Perfect! Now recharge and do something about it. You may be surprised by how much you can do through honesty and self-care. Your life with your children will change. I just know it!
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place
What kind of mom do you WANT to be? Is your current situation or mental state a means to get there? If your answer is no, then I applaud you for being real and ask you what are you going to do about it?
Rest easy, Mama. No one is perfect and most of us are not monsters. If you have been judged by another mom, it is probably their own insecurity. It is much easier to strive to find fault in others instead of correcting the fault in ourselves. Don’t take the easy road. You won’t like where it leads you, I promise. I am cheering for you!!
Most of us are all working toward the same goal. Tearing each other down or beating ourselves up will change absolutely nothing about our realities. Just because wrong has been done does not mean good can not come from it. I don’t want to be better than any other mom, I want to be better than the mom I was yesterday or even an hour ago. I signed up for it. I stuck around for it. I continue to choose the mom life every single day, so why not try my best to be great at it?
Turn it over. Let it go. Take a dang nap already! Your family will thank you for it.
1 Kings 19:5
Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.