I love how I strike up conversations with people that lead to thought provoking moments of revelation. It happens a lot with me but usually when I don’t even realize that it was something that I needed to hear. Today I was talking to a lady who I have had interaction with for a while now. I wouldn’t really call us friends but every now and then she imparts words of wisdom. It wasn’t any different today when she pointed out that I am one of those moms that hardly (I’m not going to say never because it wouldn’t be completely true) does anything solely for herself.
She had mentioned that when I get some extra money I should treat myself to something and I launched into my usual rationalization about how I couldn’t possibly buy something for me without at least first making sure my daughter has absolutely all that she needs (not everything she wants but needs) in the near future. She started telling me about how she used to be that way and that when her kids were grown they didn’t really remember any of the things that she gave up for herself or what she sacrificed but mostly what they remembered was the love that she gave them and the time that she spent with them. She pointed out that it wouldn’t hurt my daughter or make her feel any less loved to take care of me every once and a while.
I knew she was right but I couldn’t help feeling guilt at the slightest thought of buying something for me that didn’t somehow benefit my daughter as well. I am trying to figure out where this feeling of guilt comes from, as if I don’t deserve to have anything for myself if it means I have to deny something for her. It makes me think of what they say when you are on a plane (or what I’ve heard that they say because I have never been on a plane) when they warn you that if something should happen that parents are to put on their oxygen mask first. If you don’t put your mask on first you take the risk of something happening to you before you are able to help your child. It’s the same in life on a regular basis.
You have to take care of you because if you don’t then you won’t be able to effectively take care of your child. Taking care of you does not just extend to making sure that you are healthy and that you eat but also to making sure that you are happy and mentally in a place of peace. I don’t really remember what life is like without my child around me. Sometimes I miss being just me instead of just a mom. I guess from the beginning I have always tried to be the mother I didn’t have and I’ve always had to overcompensate in one area for certain things that my daughter might not have been receiving in another one.
It was a habit that I started when she was born, trying to be the very best mother I could be, alone, and I suppose at that time, I felt like I had to chose between me or her and of course it was always going to be her. However, as she has gotten older and as I have watched other mothers have that balance that I wasn’t sure how to get, I realize that it doesn’t have to be either me or her, that it can be both and that sometimes it is actually okay for me not to neglect me and that I don’t have to feel guilty about that. Now I am not going to say that the feeling of guilt when I do something that is just for me won’t still be there when I try to take steps towards taking better care of me, but that certainly doesn’t mean that I am not going to try. I hope that all of you out there are taking care of yourselves and if you’re not, now is as good a time as any to start.
The Diary: Succession of Lies (Now Available)
Writing as “Jaycee Durant”
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