30 Sep My time makes our time better
There really should be a billboard on every highway saying Attn: Moms- “YOU are doing GREAT- give yourself a break today!” Honestly, I know that sounds totally ridiculous, but how many million of moms out there need to hear that? I know I do, pretty well, every single day….but even when I’m at my worst and am feeding my kids random things for supper because, well, that day kicked my butt; I really still am doing ok.
In today’s society, it’s no question women are too hard on themselves. If and when we become parents, that added self imposed pressure just grows. Do you remember the day that pressure started? I know I remember being determined to read my first born 5 books a day from the start because I was told it was really important for his literacy as he grew up. By my fourth child, I will say that does not happen anymore. Sometimes I try, but as soon as my 1 year old grabs the book and tosses it across the room (often page 2) we call it a night. I digress, back to that pressure…. For me, each time we have added a child into our family, my perspectives and expectations on myself as a mother have changed and evolved. It’s a work in progress and I’m sure it will be for the rest of my life, but I’m learning through time to be easier on myself through what I like to call “personal parental development.” I just made that up but it’s totally true.
My first experience with childbirth was what you would expect for your first born- loooooonnnngggg. However, after my wonderful epidural experience, it was straight forward and pain free and soon after my beautiful boy was born. My fourth labour was quite the opposite. Saying it was difficult would be a huge understatement so I’ll just go with “it was really hard.” When my son finally decided to become unstuck from my pelvis, they immediately took him to the NICU for observation. The medical staff didn’t seem overly alarmed, but thought since it was the middle of the night and he had a bit of a rough birth, they would keep an eye on him so my husband and I could sleep. A couple of hours later, it was morning and my husband said he would go down and check on him and then come back and get me. I got out of bed and attempted to get dressed. I managed to pull my pajamas up to my knees before resigning to my exhaustion and laying back into bed and falling asleep. As a parent of 4 kids, I know tired, but sleeping with my pants half way up for nearly two hours is a testament to the tired I felt that day.
I later woke to my shocked, pale faced husband returning to the room. He proceeded to tell me that our son had a seizure and then had stopped breathing 15-16 times and was now on a ventilator. I remember walking down the hall to the NICU feeling like I was desensitized to what I was attempting to process. It was probably one of the most out of body experiences I have ever had. It was as if my mind vacated my body so that I did not go into complete hysteria and just left me numb. I can say, with confidence now, that I was in complete and total shock.
The doctors were incredible. They explained to us that they were going to run tests to try and determine what was going on and continued to reassure us that he was getting the best care, and he absolutely was. Within 48 hours, he was improving substantially. By day 4, we were able to take out his ventilator and watch him breathe on his own. I will never forget the moment when they unhooked him and let him finally breathe on this own. I sat there waiting for this huge cry. I kept thinking he would want to show us all how mad he was that he started life strapped to a bed with tubes shoved down his throat but instead, he just looked at me with those big eyes, with a face that oozed a look of peace and contentment, like he was whispering “Thank God, Mom”. I get teary just thinking about it.
During that stay in the hospital, I can say now there was very few parts of my brain that were
thinking rational thoughts. I remember feeling the ultimate guilt that I had to be away from my older three kids so much that week. I decided it was a sound idea to have my husband bring them in to visit for an hour and we would spend some quality at the park next to the hospital. I was operating on essentially no sleep and Luke was still in the NICU so John suggested I leave it for another day.
Bless him.. but seriously, you don’t mess with a hormonal, exhausted mom that just gave birth and is feeling guilty. We were going to the park.
When I first saw the kids, they said they didn’t want to go anywhere, but I promised a drive thru treat to persuade them. Several minutes later, we arrived at the park on this sweltering hot summer day with one bottle of water, and our drive-thru box of timbits. Shortly thereafter (like 30 seconds) my two year old pooped in her diaper and I discovered I had no diaper bag. (I think I actually stopped carrying a diaper bag after my second child and just stuffed them in the glove box but that’s not important). What’s important is that the glove box was empty, as was my imaginary diaper bag. I used the water from my water bottle to clean off my two year old and then kids played for two minutes more before wanting a snack. I obliged.
So what happens on a super hot day when kids are eating timbits in the sun? Well they want drinks and I had just used our only one on their sisters bum. Insert little children hysteria. Everyone was extremely cranky, hot and all they wanted to do was sit on the bench on my lap. I was sweating, they were fighting, and my fairytale hour of quality time with my abandoned children was turning into an afternoon nightmare. I went back to the hospital with those post baby hot flashes, more flustered, more tired, and feeling more guilty than I had before.
It’s funny because Moms put themselves in those kinds of situations all too often. We have this fear that we are never doing enough, not ever loving enough and not ever being enough for our kids. You know what though, I know my kids have most definitely, long forgotten that park trip and have also forgotten that I was away from them for a few days. What I do know, is that whole experience stuck with me and was the beginning of a huge change for me. It was my wake the f%^()% up mom moment and it has motivated me to do better. Not better in that I feel I need to be a better mother, but better in that I need to be better to me.
I still have mom guilt just about every single minute of every single day, but I’m working hard at beating that back down. I am learning that to make my family work, I need to look after myself. I am getting better at saying no, and not just to my kids. Moving my body is the most natural medicine, and I make sure that I do that in some capacity every day. There is literally NOTHING in the world that makes my mind work better (not even coffee). It even has a ripple effect on everything else I do- I eat better, I drink plenty of water, I make time for friends and am trying to go on more dates with my husband. All of these things are so good for the soul and I know I’m a better mother, a better wife, daughter, sister, friend (I’m a better everything) when I take that time for myself.
I’m reading this incredible book and one of the quotes resonated so much with me; “one of the best ways to improve the world is to first improve yourself.” I think every mom needs to remind themselves that every single day. It’s freeing and empowering and just a simple reminder that we are so incredibly worth it. I think everyday we need that window of time for ourselves that helps us be the version of ourselves we want to be. We can serve those around us with much more grace when we first serve ourselves and you know what- we deserve it. You are worth it.