For years on Mother’s Day, many of us have enjoyed being lavished with cards, gifts, and love from our family to show their gratitude to us for all we do, day in and day out, all year long.
It is sweet, and any of us who are lucky enough to enjoy such appreciation should feel cherished and respected. Wouldn’t it be nice if we did that for ourselves — everyday?
It is a fact that for many women, myself included, becoming a mother became synonymous with becoming a caretaker, an unelected fixer of all things, and a selfless being. Many times it is a self-imposed sentence placed on us by societal demands because what is a good mother other than always there for her family? And don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe that we need to attend to our children’s needs and recognize them for the complicated individuals they are, but somewhere along the way (and preferably as soon as we get home from the hospital), we need to keep ourselves in the mix.
When was the last time you spent a whole day doing exactly what you liked doing? Or had a beauty night the way you used to when you were single, or simply curled up with a good book or movie? When was the last time you delegated one of your endless responsibilities to your spouse or kids? When was the last time you said “no” to a friend?
Too many of us have become so absorbed in building a family that we have forgotten we owe it to ourselves to build a happy person from the inside out. A martyr is the very opposite of who we want to model to our children, and after a while we can’t help but feel overburdened and exhausted, and then no one is happy — not us, our spouse, or our kids.
It might be difficult, hell, it IS difficult. I am in the process of doing this right now. But I know it CAN be done because, like you, I know many women who never relinquish their vitality to the role of mother. They deliver a baby and still keep up with friends, museum exhibitions, parties, and hobbies that make them feel good. They delegate and don’t put it upon themselves to have to do everything. They take turns with childcare with their spouse and friends. In other words, they treat themselves with regular doses of T.L.C., and that is just as vital as nutrition and vitamins for good mental and physical health.
I am not saying it is easy, but if I were to mentally tack up my female friends, the majority of them put themselves last behind their spouse, children, and even relatives and friends. We need to ask ourselves if that is what we want our own daughters to do because what they live, they will duplicate.
It is that age-old airplane analogy: put your own oxygen mask on first so you can save your kids; but in this case we need to put our own happiness first so we can foster enough of it to share with those in our life that mean the most. So, while you are enjoying that half-cooked breakfast in bed and scribbled crayon cards, and after you thank those special people, try to take a minute to thank yourself for doing a fabulous job — right after you promise to treat yourself with all the compassion and love you heap upon those gorgeous little people that made you a mother in the first place!
Danielle Sullivan, a mom of three, has worked as a writer and editor in the parenting world for more than 10 years. Sullivan also writes about pets and parenting for Disney’s Babble.com. Find Sullivan on her blogs, Just Write Mom and Some Puppy To Love.
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