Many of us grew up with mothers who gave up everything for their children. They gave up careers, they gave up their dreams, and some even gave up their own dinner so their children could eat. Through their sacrifices, they showed us what love looks like. It is noble and honorable when a mother puts her children and family first, but it’s not something moms have to do to the detriment of their selves.
Mothers get a lot of grief for putting themselves first these days, and it’s this mentality that is making for a lot of unnecessarily unhappy moms. If a woman decides to go to work instead of attending her daughter’s first day of school, she is seen as selfish. If a woman chooses to watch a half hour of trashy TV instead of scrubbing the floors Cinderella-style, she is viewed as lazy. I could give a million examples, but what it boils down to is that women have been indoctrinated with the notion that sacrifice equals love, and “me time” equals insensitive and self-serving.
I call bullshit.
Women, hear me now. It is vital that you get time to yourself as often as possible. It is necessary for your mental and emotional well-being. Sometimes sacrificing of ourselves is the only option, but sometimes we choose to sacrifice our own happiness simply because we’ve been told that it’s the only right and proper way to live. In reality, taking time for ourselves actually makes us a better person, a better partner, and a better parent.
We must have time to remember who we are as people, as individuals, and as badass women. Getting a few minutes to yourself can be absolutely life changing. The chance to breathe without a toddler screaming at you can give you a sense of calm. The opportunity to get your nails done without a 7-year-old girl asking if she can paint your nails can make you feel human again. Going out with the girls, taking a candlelit bath, or just reading on the porch for a few minutes in the afternoon is the calm, the peace, the rejuvenation we all need.
You don’t get an award at the end of your life for being a martyr. No one is going to hand you a medal for taking poor care of yourself for the sake of raising good children. You only have one life to live and even if you are a mom, you deserve to actually live it.
Motherhood has the ability to suck the life right out of a woman. We give and give everything we have every single day, and it is, in a nutshell, exhausting. And I’m not saying that being a parent doesn’t require sacrifice. Of course it does. We brought these children into the world knowing that it would cut out a significant amount of time for ourselves, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up that time altogether. We have the hardest job there is, and just like any other job, we desperately need a break every now and then.
I urge you, my fellow mothers, to call a friend to watch your kids, drop them off at your parents’ house, or find some way to treat yourself. You are smart and strong and deserve time to yourself. Don’t be ashamed to ask for it. Don’t give in to the lie that you’re being selfish. Get your butt in the car, get an iced coffee, get the manicure, or do something for you. And do it often.