Taking Care of Mom

We hear so often about moms who don’t pay attention to their kids.

Moms who, for whatever reason, don’t, or can’t, focus on their children.

Moms who ignore them.

But we don’t talk very much about moms who ignore themselves.

Moms who are so caught up in the business of mothering or work or both that they don’t take care of themselves.

And that’s not healthy either.

For a family to work, to thrive, every member needs to be tended to.

Every member needs to have a life, an existence outside of his or her role in the family.

A space to be the person who existed before he or she became a parent or even a spouse.

An identity separate from the family.

Even if only for a moment, now and then.

Recently, I took a trip across the country for a long weekend away. It was the first time I had left my son for more than one night since he was born.

And I struggled with going.

Agonized.

I felt horrible guilt about leaving my child, even in the care of his father and grandmother and aunt.

Felt bad about taking some time to be the me who is a writer and a friend and a woman.

The me who is more than a mom.

I felt like I wasn’t entitled to that time.

Like it was a sign of weakness that I needed it.

A message to my child that I didn’t love him enough.

At several points leading up to the trip, I almost cancelled.

But something deep within me kept pushing me to go.

To take the time.

As I stared out the window of the airplane, somewhere over the middle of the country, it hit me.

I wasn’t a bad mom for wanting this, for needing it.

I would be a better mom for recognizing it.

More patient, more appreciative, more thankful just for having a little time.

More whole, as a person.

Which would necessarily affect my ability to mother.

I have sacrificed, in many ways, to stay home with this child.

Because I want, with every fiber of my being, to be with him, day in and day out.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t need to have some time for me.

It doesn’t mean I stopped existing as a person.

Because I didn’t.

And my son didn’t suffer while I was gone.

He loved his time with the rest of his family.

He learned that other people can feed him and tuck him in and kiss his scrapes.

He learned that dads—men—are caregivers, just like moms.

He learned that moms—women—are people outside of their roles of mothers.

He missed me, yes.

And I missed him.

But only one of us cried for the other in the separation.

And it wasn’t the toddler.

How do you make sure you take care of yourself?

22 Responses to Taking Care of Mom
  1. chimomwriter
    August 16, 2011 | 9:17 pm

    This is such a hard one! We’re responsible for keeping the whole machine going and there will just never be enough hours in the day. I keep trying to set goals for myself, but they often go unmet because of other responsibilities. Good for you for taking the trip. And hey, getting the opportunity to MISS your child is not such a bad thing!

    • MamaTrack
      August 16, 2011 | 9:28 pm

      It really is. Lots of times, I can’t take a minute for me. I’m trying to make a goal to have at least a little time on the weekends–even if it’s just getting a quick pedicure.

  2. Jessica
    August 16, 2011 | 10:35 pm

    This is SO hard for me to do. I am starting to get a little better at it but I still struggle with feeling guilty. Ugh!

    • MamaTrack
      August 16, 2011 | 10:38 pm

      I know. It’s really hard. But moms need a little time too. Not necessarily a weekend–just 30 minutes for ourselves.

  3. Kimberly
    August 17, 2011 | 12:02 am

    I have such a hard time leaving the kids. I’m trying to get better with it, and honestly? I’m recognizing more and more now that I NEED to get away. I need the time to myself.

  4. [...] JDaniel4′s Mom: Pause Life for a MomentLife on the Mama Track (yep, dug her site this week): Taking Care of MomMommy of a Monster & Twins: Fast and Easy Breakfast Recipe: Baked Prosciutto and Egg Cups Have [...]

  5. Jessica
    August 17, 2011 | 3:26 am

    I have no problem leaving my kids. Absence makes the heart grow fonder is what I tell them. ;)

    Seriously, I’m glad you went to the conference. I think it was good for you to get some me time and to hang out with me. Also, you got the dadlogs from the trip which was an added bonus.

    Apparently I don’t do serious very well in my blog comments.

  6. Alison@Mama Wants This
    August 17, 2011 | 8:01 am

    It’s absolutely essential to get time to yourself. I’m lucky I do every day for a couple of hours and I believe that makes me a better mother to my son, and wife to my husband.

    I know it’s hard not to feel guilty, but just remember why you need to. *hugs*

  7. angela
    August 17, 2011 | 8:05 am

    I’m glad you took the time to go! I have a hard time doing it. My husband and I have gone on a couple of overnight trips, where they stay with my parents, and it’s hard for me to do that. For some reason I can justify the time I take with him as being important for our marriage, but taking it just for ME is tough. I have a hard time even taking a night out for dinner with my girlfriends, sometimes.

    • MamaTrack
      August 17, 2011 | 8:25 am

      I know exactly what you mean. When I do a girls’ night, I always put the boy to bed before I leave.

  8. pmlevitt
    August 17, 2011 | 8:22 am

    My husband and I give each other one night off a week to do…whatever we want! And I recently signed up for a Yoga class. We are trying to fit date nights in there and make time to connect after V goes to bed in the evenings. It all involves conscious effort and choice, and sometimes, guilt, but in the end, it is so necessary!

  9. Amy
    August 17, 2011 | 8:42 am

    It took me YEARS to realize this. I make a point to go play volleyball 1 or 2 nights a week. Most times its close to bedtime so its not as big a deal to feel guilty about. It has really helped me be a better person and mom. We all need it!

  10. Brittney Mclain (@BrittneyMcLain)
    August 17, 2011 | 9:41 am

    It is so hard to get out of the role of just mom once we are here. Its hard to remember to take time for ourselves when we are taking care of everyone else. I struggle with this daily with my decision to go back to school I feel incredibly guilty for leaving for class monday through thursday… its definitely hard!! Loved this post :)

  11. Kir
    August 17, 2011 | 10:02 am

    this line is the one I say to myself every morning (the hard ones where I just want to stay and get one more hug at school ) :

    But only one of us cried for the other in the separation.

    And it wasn’t the toddler.

    I look at their faces , them not even affected, that I am gone but coming back and I know that what I am doing is good for all of us. They are GOOD, Healthy, HAPPY and content where they are and while I don’t exactly LOVE working, I do enjoy that time away for me.

    I am so happy , SOOOOOO happy that you got to feel this, that his hug when you walked in was enough to know that you were missed but you being away made you a BETTER mom.

    What a great post and a good reminder to us all.
    xo

  12. Anastasia
    August 17, 2011 | 10:02 am

    This is so hard to remember. You get so caught up in your kids you forget that you are a separate person. I like to get mommy books from the library and spend some leisurely time reading books without pictures and rhyming words.

  13. Missy | The Literal Mom
    August 17, 2011 | 10:11 am

    I’m so glad you did it! I still have yet to do it – and my kids are OLD (at least one of them is). I think I’m going to try to hit a conference in 2012, so my first time might be coming! I found you from It Builds Character today!

  14. Ashley
    August 17, 2011 | 10:57 am

    It is so hard not to feel guilty. It’s still hard on the times that I leave them, but with my husband having been gone for a few months for work, I think it will be a little easier when he gets back!! That mommy guilt hits hard though, for sure.

  15. Melanie
    August 17, 2011 | 11:11 am

    How true! It is so important for Mamas to take time for themselves. I believe it makes us better Mamas. I know I need it and yet I keep pushing that time aside, because you know, in the moment, this boy needs me.

    I haven’t done the overnight away in a long time, but I do get to escape for a few hours on the weekend.

  16. Tracie
    August 17, 2011 | 11:13 am

    Balance!! This parenting thing is all about balance. You have to intentionally spend time with your child as the focus, and also intentionally spend time with yourself as the focus. Get out of balance…and you will burn out. It is easy to do.

  17. shellthings
    August 17, 2011 | 11:16 am

    This was such a hard lesson for me to learn with my first. And I was around other new moms who did everything with their babies, too. Made me feel like I couldn’t do anything for me.

    But, I’ve since learned that I NEED that time. It makes me a better mommy. B/c I come back much less stressed out.

    Glad you were able to get away. Less stress next time, okay girl?

  18. Christine
    August 17, 2011 | 12:28 pm

    I have a 9yo and a 3yo and I still struggle with carving out time for myself. And I spend most of it online. I tell myself I can’t “afford” the other stuff like solo trips and spa days. But I’m not entirely sure that’s true. Motherhood is very complicated. I’m still figuring it out. I’m happy for you that you pushed yourself to go. And that you enjoyed it.

  19. Robin @ Farewell, Stranger
    August 20, 2011 | 12:24 am

    I’m so glad you came and also that you were able to see that it was a good thing for you. I’m sure it won’t surprise you to hear that I do the same – I take care of myself by taking time for me, because I know I need it. Badly.

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