Call me a cliché, but there is nothing that will help you get your priorities straight quite like having a kid. For me, popping out my one and only kid was like the magic sleigh ride straight out of the people pleasing path I had been on my entire life – a fix I never knew I needed so badly.
Once this little person entered my life, the same one who made me feel strong and worn out all at the same time, it was as if I had zero desire to give of myself to anyone or anything that seemed to interfere with my time in a way I wasn’t comfortable with.
And I had even less of a desire to apologize for it.
Allow me to rewind this mixtape of emotions for you however, back to a time when “yes” was the only word in my vocabulary. A rough childhood and a hefty mix of anxiety coupled with daddy issues and a lack of self-confidence will do that to you. It’ll leave you unable to advocate for yourself, unable to say no to plans that you’re hardly even interested in, and have you running yourself ragged all for the benefit of other people.
I wince with regret just thinking about it.
But this was me. For 31 years, it was as if I paid myself no attention, ignored my own wants and desires, and let my needs fall to the wayside in hopes that I’d be keeping everyone else around me happy. I let my girlfriends make the choices for lunch plans, dinner plans, and even trips. I dared not give my opinion on how awful the meal I had at everyone’s favorite restaurant was for fear of being shunned.
And don’t get me started on relationships.
But then she happened. Having my daughter not only helped me to realize the power of unconditional love, but absolutely taught me to love and honor myself as well. The notion that I, me, the one who never felt worthy enough of anything, had grown and borne this beautiful creature made me realize – shit, I guess I am pretty amazing.
And my entire outlook on life, starting with myself, changed for the better. (Unless it was you on the receiving end of my “I can’t make it tonight!” text.)
With a child in my life, time suddenly felt fleeting. Every moment began to mean something so much more than it ever had. The fact that each phase of my daughter’s life began to pass so quickly, leaving me in the dust and wondering if I could ever slow down time taught me just how precious my life, my time, and my energy really were.
I became a single mom when my daughter was two, leaving me with even less time to enjoy my daughter – 50% of the time to be exact. I started blending a new family just two years after that, which if you know anything about blended families, requires a hell of a lot of time and devotion – the kind I am always thrilled to give. I run a business that demands all of me, a lot of the time, which leaves me damn near dead at the end of each day. So, if I don’t come to your party, forget to send you a long-winded sob story about why I couldn’t be there, or straight-up cancel plans at the last minute – there’s a reason for it, but I’m sorry because I cannot apologize for putting my family and I first.
Here are three reasons why I RSVP’ed “No” or cancelled plans at the last minute:
1. Your special event coincided with precious family time.
It’s not that I don’t love you. You could be my very best friend in the entire world – but if it’s my night with my daughter, it’s very likely that I’m not coming. Arranging for a sitter is hard enough for anyone, but literally crushes your soul when you have to do it knowing that you only get to enjoy half of your child’s childhood. And then if the stars align, my fiancé and I might have BOTH of our girls at the same time, meaning holy shit – the world comes to a screeching halt so we can all kick back and enjoy our time together. Listen, some of you reading this get 18 years of your children. I get nine. So even if your event is black tie and the open bar is flowing like the salmon of Capistrano, there’s only a 50% chance I can come.
2. My ex and I had to swap a night.
Sure, maybe I said yes to that dinner, that much-needed girl’s night, your baby shower, a birthday party, or the royal fucking wedding. But as my divorce agreement states, my ex and I give each other the “right of first refusal,” which means if one of us has a conflict that must pull us away from our child, we give each other the respect of swapping a night instead of calling for a sitter. If my ex calls me at the last minute and is stuck at work, you bet your ass I’m jumping at the chance to have extra time with my girl, even if that means I’m sending you a last minute “something came up” text.
3. I’m honestly fucking exhausted and wasn’t in the mood.
Again, I might have said yes to these plans originally. But guess what? Now I’m fucking tired. My daughter was up three times last night because that’s what we’re dealing with right now. I got stuck putting out a work emergency with a client that drained all of the patience from my soul. Swim lessons went awry and required me to perform an exorcism on my child because she thought she saw a bug in the pool and now I am fresh out of fucks to give. It was a really great idea in theory to catch up over wine in the middle of the week, but right now, the idea of putting pants on is enough to make me cry.
If you’re reading this and understand where I’m coming from, you’re likely a really, really good friend of mine who gets it or a beautifully evolved soul who feels just like me. If you’re reading this and think I’m a huge bitch who shouldn’t be invited out of the house ever again – nah, it’s not like that. I’m not a bitch. In fact, I love my friends in ways I could hardly describe. I just finally learned to love me more – me, my time, and the little human I grew inside of me most of all.