I learned a long time ago that to be a better mother, wife, friend, family member, there comes a time when you must finally realize that “putting everyone before yourself” is complete and utter bullshit.
“NO” may be the single most difficult word for any woman to say, no matter what her situation. It doesn’t matter if you are a working mother, a stay at home mom, a single woman, a divorced or single mom, or just married. The ability of society to put unreasonable expectations on us knows no boundaries. Nothing pisses me off more than society encouraging – no, wrong word – INSISTING that we put ourselves at the end of the line, and put everyone else first. Does the world have a clue how long that fucking list is? I mean, seriously, think about it for one hot moment. I don’t know about your list, but mine takes up two pages on any given day. And God forbid you actually take a moment for yourself, then there is whole guilt thing to deal with and wrestle into submission. I’ll be damned if anyone is going to make me feel guilty for being kind to myself. Now THAT is some bullshit right there.
Let me give you a real world example of what I am talking about. I have a friend. For the sake of anonymity we will call her “Jane.” Now Jane is a young divorced mom of two very energetic little girls. She has a good job, a deadbeat ex husband, and a veritable mountain of obligations to others, so there is really no time or energy for her to keep any obligations to herself. She’s trying to get in shape, trying to find some “me” time, and last but not least, trying to maybe find a rewarding relationship with a man along the way. Sound familiar? Anyone??
Her two school-aged daughters, adorable as they are, have taken over her bedroom in the evening, so there isn’t even a quiet moment to read a book, or watch something besides Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel (both of which make me want to stick my head in an oven and turn on the gas.) Every night they sleep with her (on the professional advice of her daughter’s therapist) so they would feel “safe”, take over her bathroom, insist that her time be given to them completely. In the end, she was left feeling empty and exhausted. She asked my advice. Hmmmm…let me think about this for a moment.
Well, you know me, I’m so subtle when it comes to giving my opinion, sort of like an oncoming freight train. My first thought was “are you fucking kidding me???” First of all, I am NOT a fan of “co-sleeping” arrangements, and in fact my daughter, now 13, has never slept with me, unless I asked her, generally when Bill is out of town and we are watching tv together in my bedroom. I was not shy to tell Jane that she needed to get her daughters out of her room, and quick, or they would be going to college and still sleeping with her. Several of us who are older and a bit more experienced (i.e., over 40 years of age) in such things, told her “to hell with the therapist!” Get them excited about their own bedrooms, even put them in the same bedroom to sleep so they at least have each other. Make bedtime a routine instead of an argument. And for God’s sake, get them to use their own damn bathroom. I think she hesitated a little, but in the end she brightened up their own bedrooms, presented the situation in a positive light, and voila! They are now sleeping in their own bedrooms and leaving toothpaste all over the sink in their own bathroom. Did they pout? Yep. Did they cry? You betcha. But Jane stuck to her guns.
Mission accomplished. GO
JANE! Wait until I tell her she now needs to find a babysitter, put that bitch
on speed dial, and get out of the house for some “adult time” once in a while. That one may take a bit more work.
It’s hard to establish boundaries so that at the end of the day you have time for yourself. My “me” time has always been immensely valuable, and I have never been afraid to take it for myself. To be honest, I’d go bonkers without it. So many demands from every direction make it nearly impossible, but if we don’t insist that we hold back something for ourselves, then the world will just continue to take and take, until we are popping Xanax like Skittles and hiding in the closet drinking vodka out of a paper bag. We end up sleep-deprived, unhappy with the world around us, and most of all unhappy with ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I can’t live like that. I can’t even think about living like that.
So my advice to you today is take time for yourself, even if it’s an hour at the gym, or a well-deserved pedicure, or hell, if it is just being alone in your bedroom with the door closed doing absolutely nothing at all. You’ve earned it. I’ve earned it. WE HAVE ALL EARNED IT. You are not being selfish. Taking time for yourself will make you a better mother and spouse. Trust me on this one.