I slam my foot against the kitchen cabinet.
“Just stop it!” I yell, “Stop the fighting!”
My kids go quiet and stand frozen in the kitchen.
“I’m sorry Mama,” my five-year-old son tells me and immediately… I feel bad.
They’re just kids, they don’t deserve an angry mom.
And yet, I’m literally going out of my mind. I’m so exhausted and feel like I don’t even have the space to sort through my own thoughts.
Is this what motherhood is supposed to be like?
Nope. But, I’m making one critical mistake.
I haven’t taken any time for myself.
Self Care: that process we never want to do
You see all these posts about how you need to take time for self care, but usually its something like:
- Take a bubble bath
- Light a candle
- Read a book
Umm, no. None of those things appeal to me. In fact, they make my achiever brain go insane.
I need to be productive. I can’t just be doing nothing.
So, I brushed off self-care.
Nope, I don’t need it. Not for me.
But then came the anger: the resentment when I was home alone with my kids.
A few of the thoughts that flooded my brain were:
- “I don’t want to be a mom anymore.”
- “Why did I go to college if I’m stuck in the house cleaning up after everybody?”
- “My husband is so lucky that he gets to talk with adults all day and drive in the car by HIMSELF.”
Now. I’m not proud to admit these.
But if you feel the same way, you’re not alone. There is something we can do.
We need to start taking care of ourselves
And that does not mean bubble baths. (although if that’s your thing, I am not going to deny you a bubble bath)
That means figuring out exactly what we want out of life and going for it.
Easier said than done, right?
Because after hearing well-meaning advice such as,
- Our kids are only young once, we should enjoy it, or
- You’re so lucky you get to stay home and your husband works, or
- Someday they’ll be moved out and gone. You shouldn’t complain.
We’ve been cornered into this mentality of scarcity and fear.
Mamas, we are so frightened that we’ll regret not soaking in this part of our lives that we’re failing to actually live it.
That’s why we become angry.
Our days become so stuffed with activities and the feeling that we can’t do anything outside our kids
It’s not true
I go into these angry mom moments usually during school breaks when I have neglected my own needs in favor of watching my kids.
I love my kids. They are my whole heart AND Pursuing my own passions does not mean that I love them any less.
Making arrangements for a babysitter, enrolling them in day camp or stealing time away so that I can hang out with adult friends does not make me a bad mom.
Dr. Brene Brown, author of the book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, says that “the question isn’t so much “Are you parenting the right way?” as it is: “Are you the adult that you want your child to grow up to be?”
In my moments of anger and resentment, I can honestly answer no to that question.
I don’t want my kids to be unhappy.
Nor do I want them to resent their close family members or feel that they are trapped in a life that they don’t wholeheartedly love.
I need to be the solution and that means taking care of myself.
How do I start with self-care?
The solution is simple and incredibly hard and scary at the same time.
We need to start asking for what we want.
For me, I find this hard. In fact, I needed to have many conversations with my husband to even figure out what I wanted.
When you’ve been under the guilt and shame blanket for so long, its hard to distinguish what you actually need.
So, I went back to the times I felt the most angry and resentful.
What was I NOT doing that I wish I was?
I wanted to be writing and making a contribution to my own business. I felt like I could be doing more with it if I simply had more time.
Giving me more time by enrolling both our kids in the after-school program.
And oh my goodness, this was hard.
The little gremlins in my head chastised me for “wasting” the money and being a crappy mom because I didn’t want to be around my kids 24/7.
The first day they went, my stomach clenched into a tight ball and I regretted my decision.
But when 2:30pm came around. I was right in the middle of editing a video and my heart did a happy dance.
I have 2 more hours to finish this project. That’s amazing!
At 4:30, I actually looked forward to picking them up. I broke into the biggest smile when I saw my daughter and son cross the cafeteria.
My mood changed significantly from just an addition of 2 hours -by myself- to work on what I needed to finish.
What do you need?
If you are exhausted, angry or downright fed-up, what little thing do you need right now that might make all the difference?
It is OK to ask for it.
Because when you are happy, you make those happy around you.
Joseph Chilton Pearce writes, “What we are teaches the child more that what we say, so we must be what we want our children to become.”
Go be that person.