Before I became a mother, I envied the moms who had a life outside of their children because I thought that’s what I wanted. I’d have a baby, but also work full time and have my social life (albeit much slower than before), as well as work out and get my “me-time.” And after switching from breastfeeding to formula, I kind of did. I felt good about doing stuff during the evenings – working out or meeting a friend for a drink. I enjoyed switching bath nights and bedtimes with my husband. Then something changed. And now I’m battling with MAJOR mom guilt.
I know I’m not alone here, but it’s such a weird thing to explain to someone, especially someone without kids. I hate to draw that line in the sand or say, “you don’t have kids, you don’t understand,” but I wouldn’t have understood. You mean you don’t want to give yourself an hour to work out and loose that baby weight? You don’t want to meet a friend for a drink instead of listen to your kid whine about the food you made them for dinner? That sounds like torture! But it’s so fucking true.
For me, it started a few weeks ago. Ainsley is almost 17 months, so probably when she was 15 months. My baby, the blob who didn’t do much except poop, sort of eat, maybe crawl around, is now this tiny human. Every single day, and I’m not exaggerating, but every single day she does something new. And I just don’t want to miss it. And I don’t want to feel like I have to apologize for it.
As a working mom with a 40 minute commute, my time with her is limited. My daily routine consists of getting myself in the shower, feeding the dogs, getting coffee, drying my hair and putting make-up on all before I get Ainsley up. Once she’s up, it’s like a fucking rodeo in the house, trying to corral her into putting clothing and shoes on, putting my own clothing and shoes on, keeping her fingers out of the one socket that an outlet plug won’t fit (sidenote: how do kids find the ONE fucking outlet that won’t hold a plug?). But I love it. And that’s all in the 20 minutes I get to spend with her in the morning. That and the 10 minute car ride to school.
Evenings are usually less hectic, but more fun. Last night, she learned how to fill a cup of water and dump it. Sounds boring? It wasn’t. It was so entertaining watching her realize she was capable of this. And then hear her squealing with excitement as she poured water on me, on Otis and on herself. The night prior we took her to dinner where she mimicked everything I did in-between wanting to be cuddled at the table (which never happens anymore). I put my hand under my chin, so did she. I drank with my straw, she wanted to also. She climbed up on the sofa for the first time that day (which creates an entire new series of worries!). The day before that, I spent two hours in the morning with her just walking around the neighborhood, playing on the playground and then in the splash pad for the first time. She seemed to have the time of her life in the water, lifting her shirt so the water hit her belly, trying to catch the water with her hands. Literally, every day is something new with her and I don’t want to miss it.
I also realize self-care is important, especially to moms and dads who care for little humans. My best friend recently reminded me that self-care looks different for different people. Taking a barre class used to be my version of it. I wanted to lose some baby weight and feel better about myself. It accomplished both, and I’m proud of my body that grew Ainsley, but I really felt like I was missing out. I haven’t been to barre since Easter. Lately, my self-care has been reading in the backyard with a glass of wine after Ainsley goes to bed. I was an avid reader before becoming a mother, so it’s been really great reading again. Sometimes self-care means taking a bath with a glass of wine, or painting my nails with a glass of wine (do I have a wine problem?). Last summer, I used to do yoga out back or garden after Ainsley went to bed. Maybe I’ll get into that again! My point is – I’m still giving myself TLC, just differently.
I realize there are times I will miss things and will be out of my control. And I also realize this could be a phase, her ability to do new things this quickly will slow down and I won’t feel so sad about leaving her. Just thinking about that makes me sad, but time moves on way too quickly. When Ainsley was just a few weeks old, I was reminded that I only have 936 Saturdays with her until she’s 18. That’s it! I’ve already used up 68 Saturdays.
On that uber depressing note – how do you guys get through mom guilt? How do you make time for yourself and give your kiddo 100%? Seems like when Ainsley’s asleep is the perfect time for me, but that will change as she stays up later or another kid is added to the mix (NOT YET!). Here’s hoping you’re all practicing a little self-care, no matter what that looks like for you.