When I recently missed our daughter’s honor roll assembly, I, of course, felt guilty. Mom guilt is for real, and I wanted to be there for her. But I knew I needed a break. I was overwhelmed with life, anxiety, kids, and work, feeling burned out, and needed to run and clear my head before a long day and night at work.
The next day several moms at school asked me why I wasn’t there with my husband and my mom who was in town visiting. I lied and told them I had to work. I couldn’t believe I actually felt even more guilt and shame for wanting to take a whole hour to myself. Something I call a mental health break.
When I went home that afternoon I was so mad at myself for lying and hiding once again behind my truth. It was one of the first times since becoming a mom that I finally showed up for myself and I felt shame? Why are we as women made to feel guilty for taking care of ourselves? It’s not selfish to take a break when you need it, it’s called self-love. And I was even angrier that I felt I had to hide the need to nurture myself.
I came home and wrote a Facebook post about my decision, and how good it felt to take that me-time. I knew people might think it’s selfish to run instead of attending her assembly, but that’s exactly why I posted it on social media. I was ready to finally own and live my truth, and I didn’t care what anyone else thought. I wanted other women and moms to know that it’s OK to say no to their kids and say yes to themselves every once in a while. It’s OK to fill your cup when life gets overwhelming. It’s OK to put yourself first and make sure your needs are taken care of before anyone else’s.
As a friend reminded me recently, taking care of ourselves is taking care of our kids.
I make no apologies for missing that assembly that day, nor do I regret posting it on social media. And I encourage more women to do the same. It doesn’t matter if you’re a single mom, a stay at home mom, or work 80 hours a week, our kids don’t need us at every book fair, concert, cookie day, superlative ceremony, baseball game, or one of the other 8,000 events they have every single year. And you don’t need an excuse for why you’re missing it.
What kids need is for us to show up at home.
To be there to teach them to love themselves. To encourage them to work hard and show them the discipline it takes to get good grades. To model kindness and gratitude, and value those traits more than the letter on their report card. And to not be everything for everyone else, but forget to first give to ourselves.
Our daughter is loved, cherished, and knows every single day of her life how grateful I was to be chosen as her mother. And it seems more children in this social media age need their parents present and more focused on what’s right for them, instead of what society may think.
This choice I made wasn’t a parenting decision; it was a self-care choice. And it’s one I will continue to make as our girls grow older and the activities multiply. We can’t always live our lives for others, we only have this one day. This one moment, this one opportunity to make what we want out of our time.
Will we continue to put others first? Or will we finally start giving back to ourselves?
Sure, we have responsibilities, bills, kids, and other work and life priorities, but that doesn’t mean we have to lose ourselves in motherhood. If we aren’t enjoying and living our best life, how will our children learn to do the same?
It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of our choices, how we raise our children, or what we do with our time. If you need time for you, take it. Now if you have to. Because you matter and so do I.