If I hear the words “mommy guilt” one more time I am going to scream! You know what I feel guilty about? Not taking time to take care of myself. Before kids I had all the time in the world. Need to get my nails done? BOOM, done! Want to sit in the hair salon for hours on end? Done! Shopping with my girlfriends and not once stepping foot into a children’s store? Done and done!!
The first time I was hit with the mommy guilt grenade was when my husband and I announced we were pregnant with our son.“Enjoy your alone time now. Once the kid gets here…”this statement was dropped on me by a friend which she followed with a villainous cackle. She might as well disappear in a cloud of black smoke screaming, “I’ll get you my pretty and your little dog too!”
What the hell?!?! Once the kid gets here what? I cease to exist? We have all heard the woeful tales of how as moms our $12 coffee is cold because we don’t have time to drink it, or standing at the counter eating the left over, cold chicken nuggets, or even worse not showering for days. Nope, not it!! I enjoy washing my ass and I think my husband appreciates it too.
One thing you should know about me is that I am oppositional by nature. You say black. I say white. So, I refuse to drink the Kool-Aid when it comes to this mommy guilt bullshit! Don’t get me wrong. I love spending time with my children. My husband and I created two amazing human beings. However, I am the coolest person I know. Yep, I said it; I am my own best friend. My husband comes in as a close second. I think it’s his disdain for all things “Housewives” that causes him to lose some footing.
When our son was born I remember craving a moment of alone time. I am sure I am not the only mom that took a little longer than necessary in the bathroom just to have a minute to myself. I envied the women that I would see out and about, looking happy and rested, unburdened by the thirty-pound diaper bag, baby carrier, and stroller that made me resemble a Sherpa scaling Mt. Everest. Then one day, like a bitch slap from the universe (it was actually after a solid night of uninterrupted sleep), I realized I had to set the standard of how I was going to take care of me. Taking a cue from my best friend (me) I kissed my husband and son goodbye with the full confidence that they could entertain themselves and took myself out on a date.
As I start up the minivan I am greeted by the sound of Elmo singing. “No, bitch! Not today!” I instantly found the most un-kid friendly soundtrack to my “me date” I could find. A little Nine Inch Nails should do the trick! My day of solo shopping did not require scoping out the closest restroom for a diaper change, being dragged unwillingly into the toy store, or watching the dancing water feature for 45 fucking minutes while developing a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome. First stop was to enjoy my over-priced but, much needed coffee which I drank scalding hot (burnt tongue be damned), then off to lunch where I savored every bite of my meal which I was able to eat at my leisure without practicing counting with sugar packets, or tipping the server a bit extra in an effort to apologize for my son dumping the contents of an entire packet of crackers on the floor. I found joy in even throwing up a stealth middle finger to the water feature.
After falling in love with and purchasing several pairs of shoes, I damn near skipped back to my car. As I giddily made my way through the parking lot something caught my attention. A mother looking at flowers with her little girl. Bending down they examined a flower just outside of the mall entrance, which instantly made me stop in my tracks and the longing for my baby hit me like a brick wall. I realized then that for every moment I feel the frustration and overwhelming responsibility of keeping this little person alive, those moments are outnumbered by the feeling of love and appreciation that he chose me to be his mommy. This makes it worth it.
Should I feel guilty for taking the afternoon to myself? No, I didn’t feel guilty. I felt rejuvenated. These self-imposed time outs allow me to bring the best version of me to the table.
My little boy greeted me at the door as if I had been gone for months. There was relief in feeling those two little, sticky arms around my neck. For the rest of the day I enjoyed every push of the swing at the park, I pulled him a little closer into me as we sat on the floor watching Elmo, and as I put him to bed I watched him sleep a few minutes longer than usual. I know these moments go by quickly and I want to enjoy them as much as possible.
Sometimes when you step away a little bit you get a better view of the big picture.
By the way, I never did figure out why the fuck his arms were sticky!!