Last week my playgroup had a playdate with a discussion about juggling and self-care. I wasn’t able to attend because I was juggling an appointment with my therapist into my schedule so I could do some self-care. The plan was to read an article about balance before the playdate in order to fuel the discussion.
I wanted to participate in the talk despite being unable to attend so I wrote an email with some of my thoughts. Well, it ended up more like a blog post. I share it here with minimal edits:
I just read the article and found it to be very insightful. Something that has been bothering me every since I started this whole parenting experiment is all the advice to take care of myself that actually made me feel more stressed.
Nap when baby naps?! Are you kidding me? I’m sure that works for some people and that’s great, but early on Siddhartha switched over primarily to 20 minute naps. Even when he was taking longer naps, I never knew which was going to be the big one and it was more painful for me to finally fall asleep only to be woken by a crying baby minutes later. Talk about a headache. Literally.
In addition to mommy, I’m also a writer. Ever since Siddhartha was born it has been a struggle to try to find time to write and it leaves me feeling like I’m unable to achieve something or be a productive part of society. But every so often I catch myself and think, “WHAT?! I’m raising a little human. I made a new life!” Really, what could possibly be a greater achievement? How could one produce anything greater than life?
I’m convinced that Mom is the most under-appreciated job out there. Not that I expect Siddhartha to understand. Even when he’s older, he won’t remember this time or understand how hard I worked for him (until maybe he has a child of his own). I’m referring to the social perception. When we go to dinner parties (’cause we do that so much these days, right?) and talk about what we do, how do people react when one says “full-time mom”, “stay-at-home mom” or “homemaker”? If you do work outside the home, do you say “I’m a mom” first and then add “oh, I’m also a [insert profession here]”?
My intention wasn’t to go off on a tangent of how under-appreciated moms are. My point is that it’s hard to avoid stressing ourselves to achieve balance when it doesn’t feel like there’s a lot of respect for just being a mom.
Some days I do feel like I need a break from trying to find time to write. Sometimes, I want to spend Siddhartha’s naptime reading a book or knitting or doing nothing. Sometimes I want to just sit there and feel for a moment like I don’t need to be doing anything. Sometimes I don’t want to throw in a load of laundry while watching over my shoulder to be sure Siddhartha’s not getting into anything. The problem I have is that I need to feel constantly productive and watching a baby play or sleep simply does not feel productive.
I think what we really need is to be honest and LOUD about the fact that what we’re doing is hard work! No more sugar-coating it because we feel guilty and afraid that it might sound like we don’t appreciate our kids. Of course we appreciate them and love them and would never give them up for anything. But raising them is still hard work!
Once we accept that our job is hard, it’s easier to be nice to ourselves and find that flexibility that the author writes about in the article. I just wrote a blog post recently about learning how to just hang out and have fun playing with Siddhartha without thinking about what “needed” to be done.
What do you feel can be done to put respect back into the role of Mom? Do you have any tips for a healthy acknowledgment of how challenging parenting is and putting pride into the work that goes with it?