Lord, help me. I just got done watching an episode of Dr. Phil. Don’t judge me. It’s an addiction I’m OK having. It’s not like I’m doing meth or selling pregnancy tests online. OK?
Anyway. Dr. Phil had some rocket surgeon on as a guest. This high IQ having individual did a study and concluded that moms – stay at home moms in particular – have between thirty to forty hours of leisure time a week.
Go ahead and laugh. I did.
What made it even funnier was his definition of leisure time. Did your car break down and now you have to wait for a tow truck? That’s leisure time. Are you answering emails in the middle of the night? Leisure time. Visiting your sick mother in law and helping clean her house? Leisure time. Basically, if you’re not getting paid, or taking care of your house or children then it’s leisure time.
I honestly couldn’t figure out if I should laugh or cry or punch something. Wait. That’s exercise. Must have some leisure time there.
But, wait. There’s more.
As guests, Dr. Phil had on a young couple. Why? The husband felt his wife was lazy and not working hard enough at keeping the house clean. He felt she could do more like dust the picture frames and clean out the closet. All while taking care of their two children under the age of two. Dr. Phil asked him why he doesn’t clean if he thinks the house is so dirty. It’s woman’s work. Women are programmed to cook, clean, and take care of the children. It’s in our genetic make up.
Are you kidding me? Let’s add to this. He even went on to say he proves his point every weekend by cleaning it to his satisfaction. You know, with his wife there to watch the kids.
So, what is the husband’s solution to motivate his wife to clean to his approval? He mocks her. Berates her. Teases and taunts her. He criticizes her to the point she locks herself in the bathroom and cries. Because, that’s what marriage and relationships should be. That’s goals.
I was in a relationship like that. Nothing I did was good enough. He was the kind of guy that would unload the dishwasher right after I loaded it. I never folded the clothes right. I couldn’t even vacuum the right way. And he wasn’t gentle with his remarks and criticism. Initially, he only did this when people weren’t around. As time went on though, he would do it in front of his family or guests when they would visit.
He didn’t motivate me. I wasn’t inspired to do better. I tried to do it to his liking but always failed. What he managed to do was fill me with anxiety. It was so stressful knowing I was going to get yelled at either way. If I did it, it wasn’t good enough. If I didn’t do anything, I was lazy.
Now, don’t think I can’t take criticism. I write, I blog, I have a YouTube channel. I’m used to criticism. But the thing with criticism is this: if it makes the other person feel less than a person, you’re doing it wrong. I’m not saying sugar coat everything. You’re not Willie Wonka. But, think about how you would respond in that situation. Short version, don’t talk to people like they’re a dog on the street. Actually, I’ve heard people be nicer to the dog.
So, here’s my takeaway on this. Moms are busy. Being a stay at home mom is a full time job. If you work a full time job, you at least get to take a lunch break. Moms are on call 24/7. 365 days a year. Until the day they leave their bodies. Then we watch from whatever version of Heaven you believe in. The dishes may not always get washed. The laundry may need to be run in the dryer another time before it can be folded. And even then, it may sit on the couch for a week before it gets put away. At least the kids are taken care of. And the house is still standing.
And for a train wreck mom, that’s good enough.
There is so much that I wish for. It’s hard admitting that because as humans, moms in particular, are trained to believe wanting things is greedy and selfish. We’re taught to take care of everyone else before us. I’ve even seen infographics on Facebook that put women/wives/moms last in a hierarchy. God then husband then kids then mom. That’s the most common one that I’ve seen.
Guess what? It is OK for you to want for yourself. True story. You are allowed to want things for yourself. You’re allowed to want to eat the Oreos without sharing. It’s OK to want longer than a five minute shower. It’s totally normal to want nicer clothes.
Have you ever flown? You know the spiel they give about if they lose cabin pressure and you’re traveling with a small child? They tell you to secure your facemask first, then you take care of the kid. Why? Because some situations require you take care of you first. You’re not going to be able to take care of anyone if you pass out or worse.
I get it. I do. I am currently dealing with the fact that for so long I refused to buy clothes for myself because there was always something else I could have gotten. Art supplies for the Bunny. Bows for Hayhay. Dinosaurs for T-Rex. There was always something more important than me.
Even the days we didn’t have a lot – OK, any – money. The kids ate. I drank water. I lied to my husband and told him I ate so he and the kids would have enough food. Low blood sugar and low blood pressure is not a good combination. My heart paid the price and I’m still dealing with those actions.
You’re a good mom. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be worried about being a good mom. Good moms sacrifice for their families.
But, if you sacrifice too much, eventually, there will be nothing left. And then, what does your family have?
So, here’s your pass, Mom. Here’s your permission to take care of yourself and to want things for yourself. So, this is your wake up call. Get the outfit. Eat the Oreos. Take a shower that uses up all the hot water. Because you are worth it. You are loved. And I am proud of you.
Listen. I’ll be straight with you. Motherhood is hard. Motherhood is tough. And you have to be a tough mother to get through some of the days. I get it. You never sleep. You work hard. You worry. And it’s not appreciated. You feel like all you are is the bearer of children and chicken nuggets. And then the bills come in. And keep coming. And pile up.
It’s a never ending cycle.
But it can end. And it ends with the mommy martyr routine.
Newsflash: you are human. Shocking to many people, I know, but moms are human. So you’re allowed to feel your feelings. You’re allowed to feel bad, mad, and sad.
But what you are not allowed to do is let that drag you down so far that you can’t take care of your kids. And by take care of your kids I mean accepting that things may not be Pinterest perfect. Sometimes good enough is just gonna have to be good enough.
What isn’t good enough is stressing yourself over things you can’t control. You can’t control your situations in some cases. But you can control how you react to them.
The biggest things to remember are that you’re trying the best you can and that your kids love you. They may not say it as they roll their eyes when you ask for help with chores. But they do. They will look back at these times and know that you were the best mom for them in that moment. And that’s something to be grateful for.
So, hug your kids. Smell their hair. And be present and grateful for that moment. That’s the secret. That’s the key. That’s the magic. In that moment you are living as if. You are experiencing what it would be like if. And that’s the real deal right there.
And don’t forget that bathrooms have locks and no one can hear you unwrap a chocolate bar if you run the shower.
You are good enough.
Treat yourself. It’s a hashtag. it’s motivating it’s inspiring. It’s one of the easiest things to tell someone to do. Its one of The easiest things to say. I mean, it’s just two little words. And it’s one of the hardest things for us to do. Why? Why do we find it so difficult, specifically for us mothers, to treat ourselves. Yesterday, I bought four dollar Jurassic World dinosaur fizzy egg for my son yesterday. This is something that will literally go into his bathtub and dissolve. I just dropped nearly a hundred bucks on holiday gifts for my fifteen year old daughter. I didn’t think twice. I didn’t think about these things. I struggled with myself over buying a shirt that costs twenty dollars. I fought with myself to buy a class on learning how to market better for my books. The class was ten bucks.
So much of our worth in society seems to be based on how much of ourselves we lose so our children can “live the good life.” Social media doesn’t make it any easier. Facebook turns into a mommy martyr competition around Christmas, Easter, and birthdays. All to see who loves their babies the most. News flash: your three year old doesn’t care or want new Jordans. He wants the PJ Masks shoes that light up.
You are allowed to treat yourself. And don’t listen to that nonsense touted by financial experts. No one is going to go broke or die in your family just because you decided to get a Starbucks coffee once or twice a month.
Your family gets spoiled all the time. You’re part of the family. You are not just someone who lives and works there. And if no one else is going to treat you then you are just going to have to do it yourself. I can’t even begin to tell you how many of my own Mother’s Day, birthday, and Christmas gifts I’ve had to buy myself. I now have the urge to make up for about twenty years of gift giving to my mom. Sorry, Mom. Love you.
So for today, I will remember my worth as a mother is not based on how much I sacrifice myself for them. I will remember that I am a human being, not just a mom and a wife. I have needs, wants, desires, and feelings. I’m allowed to indulge myself once and a while. And I don’t have to buy a ticket on the Mom Guilt Express. Because I’m the mom and I say so. I don’t know how I’ll treat myself as of yet. Maybe, I’ll read for an hour. Maybe I’ll lick the brownie bowl and spoon myself. Maybe I won’t watch any more Paw Patrol or Teen Titans Go. That in of itself is a treat. However I choose, I know I am worth it. And so are you.
Today, I will treat myself.