A few weeks ago, a friend sent me an email about some running pants she’d gotten that she couldn’t use. We are both avid runners, and she recognized that the pants would be perfect for me. They were an expensive name brand in a wild color, and I could hardly believe my good fortune when she said she was passing them on to me free of charge in a “good runner karma” kind of way. When I received them a few days later, it was like Christmas had arrived early because I would never have spent the money to purchase such a frivolous item for myself.
As I sit here, fresh from a workout and wearing my new running tights, I feel like a million bucks. My running stride had a little more pep in it when I was on my run this morning, and because they are slenderizing, I felt more confident on the road as cars whizzed by my 42-year-old mom ass. My husband, who barely notices when I change my clothes even commented on how cute I looked as I left for my run. I may never take these pants off again.
My cheap ways aren’t limited to just exercise clothing either. No matter what it is, if I have to purchase it for myself, I immediately look for the cheapest, most economical way to buy it and will drive myself crazy looking for a great deal. Often I get overwhelmed during the search for the best deal, and just give up altogether. Yet when it comes to my friends, my kids, or my husband, I’m willing to splurge in order to get them exactly what they need. I have no problem spending money on an extravagant gift that I know a friend would adore or buying that expensive pair of basketball shoes my daughter needs when she grows out of yet another pair.
And when I brought up my inability to splurge on myself to a few of my friends recently, they all enthusiastically nodded and concurred that they, too, have a difficult time acknowledging that they are splurge-worthy. We all agreed that even though we know that once in a while it’s OK to use a little bit of the family budget to treat yourself to something special, none of us are able to actually put our money where our mouths are. It really made me wonder what’s behind our constant self-sacrifice.
As mothers, we are programmed to not be selfish, almost from day one. If we breastfeed our infants, we must be careful about what we put into our bodies, lest the baby not get the proper nutrients. As our kids get older, we sacrifice sleep when nightmares happen, we forego exercise when toddler tantrums prevent us from pushing that jogging stroller, and we patiently drive our kids all over creation at the expense of our sanity on busy afternoons. All day, every day, we make choices to put others before us because that’s just what moms do. It’s what’s expected of us.
I’m calling bullshit, ladies.
We have to take care of ourselves in order to take care of our families, and it starts with recognizing that we are worth the larger Starbucks coffee. It’s OK to take the bigger slice of dessert for yourself, and it’s OK to skip the clearance rack in favor of getting those strappy sandals that make your legs look kick-ass. The world isn’t going to end if you decide to spend the money on exercise classes you’ve been dying to try out, and time won’t stop if you have a spending spree in your favorite bookstore now and again.
It’s OK to be selfish because, goddamn it, we’ve earned a little pampering in the form of a manicure or a massage every once in a while. Motherhood is hard, and if we have to wait around for someone to acknowledge the myriad of duties we perform every single day, we’ll be waiting for a long damned time. Putting ourselves first not only makes us feel better about the headaches of sitting in carpool lines or dealing with PTA responsibilities, it also sends the message to our families that we are worth the extra effort. When our kids see us treat ourselves, it reminds them that the world doesn’t revolve around them — mostly.
So, go ahead, splurge on yourself. And it doesn’t have to be monetarily. Put your feet up for 20 minutes before the kids get home; the laundry can wait. Spend a few extra minutes talking to a friend in the parking lot after a PTA meeting; your kid won’t notice you are a few minutes late picking them up from soccer practice. Stop what you are doing and ask your husband to kiss you right there in the kitchen; your dinner won’t burn, I promise. Skip the family movie, and go soak in a hot bath before taking a nap. Make it a practice to do something nice for yourself every day and remind yourself that you’re a kick-ass mom. You’ve earned the right to celebrate how awesome you are as a parent, so go ahead, have that spending accident in Target. No judgment here.
If anyone needs me, I’ll be on the couch, admiring my new running pants and catching up on my DVR queue as I sip my Venti Starbucks coffee for a few minutes before the kids get home. And when they come home to a mom who is refreshed and has a smile on her face, that’s a treat the whole family can enjoy.