Confessions of a Selfish Mother
Mother's Day is that one time of year that moms are allowed indulgence-in our household this usually involves breakfast in bed and a rare opportunity to read the paper. For me this breakfast-in-bed "indulgence" is, not surprisingly, messy and a little on the chaotic side. (Though definitely fun and cute, trying to balance coffee on a tray with two excited kids encouraging me to eat the toast they made-daddy scraped off the burned stuff-is just not that relaxing.)
But here's the thing: I don't really care if I experience bliss on Mother's Day because I take a lot of time for myself. I regularly travel to Los Angeles for my work, where I stay overnight to hang out with my brother, who is single and fun. I spend a half day every other weekend with a friend in the city-a world away from my family-working on paintings and talking about music. I regularly go out for food, belly-laughs, and soulful confessions with my good friends. I always try to be training athletically for something, which means I can often be found at the gym or on a long run or at a surf clinic. When we go swimming, I lounge in the shade and read (because my skin-cancer prone complexion conveniently can't tolerate much sun) while my kids' dad plays with them for hours on end.
I do feel guilty about taking all this time to myself. Am I being selfish? Should I be making more personal sacrifices for my children? Would my kids benefit from more time with me? Would they be happier or better prepared for adulthood if I joined them riding bikes at the local elementary school instead of painting on Sunday afternoons? (Or is it narcissistic to think that?) I even feel guilty that I'm privileged enough to make such choices-that financially I can afford not to work full-time, that my parents are nearby and often pick up the kids from school while I'm off running or am in LA, and that my kids have a very involved dad who picks up the slack. Shouldn't I be doing more of the parenting myself?
Truth is I start to feel bored and anxious if I spend too much time doing laundry, mediating sibling arguments, and reading Biscuit Goes To School. I don't really like playing Sorry! with my kids, especially if I have to do it all the time. And I just can't seem to make myself fully participate in the pretend play that so engages the endless imaginations of my daughters. (I mean really, how many cups of pretend coffee can a woman drink enthusiastically in the span of an hour?) Go ahead, judge me. I'm a bad mother.
GUFFAW. Of course I'm not a bad parent, and neither are you. I love being a mom. Clearly I think a lot about what it means to be a good parent, and though I'm not perfect I try hard. I find deep joy in a nose-to-nose snuggle with a child who puts off sleep by saying, "Mom, I want to tell you one more thing. So I had this idea…" And I really think that my own personal happiness-nourished by the time I take for myself-benefits my children.
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