September 2015: There is no “ME” in “MOM”

3881036510_bc5f772dd4_mWell I am not a MEOM. How about you? Maybe that is because there is so often no “ME” in “MOM”. I can’t eat my own food without having to stop to feed my children or satisfy the grabbing hands of my constantly ravenous 10 month old; I can’t go to the toilet without having long conversations with my daughter or rescuing the toilet paper from my son. Right now as I try to write this post my daughter is wanting to show me her Stickeez collection for the umpteenth time while singing “Willa, Willa, Willa (?!)” over and over again in my ear. OK, shoo…she’s been distracted…. but now I just feel guilty. And right there is the point of this post!

I have been VERY tired  this week as we have had the teething week from hell with Tyler waking every 1 to 2 hours most nights (This is when I wish human children could be born like animals – with a mouth full of teeth and largely self-reliant!!) Being tired means I have been very intolerant and can’t help but feel resentful of my children’s never-ending needs. I know it is not their fault. They didn’t ask to be born (well, some would say that they do actually choose us before they come – in which case I have no idea why my children chose such a grumpy, over-tired mum!!) I know that I wanted my children and wanted to be a mom yet I still can’t help feeling resentful at times.

It all came to a head when I decided I REALLY needed to exercise and wanted to do a little session on the trampoline after having found a download of a rebounder fitness routine (for the record it is WAY harder doing this on a full-sized trampoline versus a little rebounder!) However, fully kitted out, with Tyler fast asleep, and ready to go, Jocelyn began to complain of a sore ear. I spent the next hour  nursing her ear and holding her on my lap while the Calpol kicked in. When I finally got around to the trampoline Jocelyn threw a fit about not wanting me to jump on HER trampoline. WELL….that was it. I regressed into a completely overtired, angry child. I threw down my Ipod (on the grass thank goodness) and yelled “What about me?!!” “It’s always about everyone else….” I even stamped my foot (ashamed (!)) Fortunately, Dad stepped in to look after all the children he saw having meltdowns and we sorted it out. So I got to do a little bit of exercise and IT FELT SO GOOD! It was the first time in 10 months that I have really got around to doing exercise that is a little more hardcore than the postnatal yoga classes I attend once a week. If I can get there.

The next day I was exhausted after another night of stolen sleep and left Jocelyn helping my husband with DIY work around the house so I could sleep when Tyler slept. Of course I then felt guilty as weekends are supposed to be when I spend more quality time with the children while I am not working. Once again, the big dilemma was – do I look after my needs (to sleep) or my children’s needs?

However, here’s the thing…. there is an “OM” in “MOM” and I am not necessarily talking about reciting a mantra while holding an impossible yoga pose, but rather the general concept of mindfulness. In this case I am referring to being mindful of ME and looking after your needs while it is so very easy to shelve them when there are so many other needs from children, partners and others. “MOM” and “ME” battle to co-exist so rather focus on the “OM” while being Mom. Here is the most important reason why….if you don’t look after yourself you will be no good for anyone else. As it was, after being able to sleep, my sense of humour was restored, I had more energy and was able to be more present for my children. Jocelyn had been fine doing DIY with Dad and did not have to have full-on, one-on-one time with mom. Sometimes we can let go a little and let our children play alone or alongside what we or others do. Later I did give her some of that one-on-one time and it was great because I felt so much better and able to enjoy it.

Secondly, if you can take some time for ME then you are showing others that you respect yourself and this gives them the message that you and your needs are worthy of respect. If you keep on putting your needs aside for others then others will keep expecting that – your children included. Finally, if you can take some time for ME then you demonstrate for your children that it is important to do things that are nourishing and nurturing for themselves. What an important lesson to share with your children. You are teaching self-care and, ultimately, as they learn to be self-sufficient we you can have a bit more time for yourself! Further, they will be well-prepared to become self-sufficient adults who take good care of themselves and their own needs.

I know it is not always practical to take ME-time but I also know that if you want it badly enough and make an effort you can find a way to get some ME-time. If you have too much guilt around this – take a look at where that comes from or ask someone to help you explore it with you. Does it perhaps come from your own childhood and your experience with your own caregivers? Well, you are not that child anymore and neither are your children. Theirs is a different experience. Try to find balance if you can. Try, as much as is possible to put some “OM” back in “MOM” so you can find “ME” again. You will be doing your children and yourself a big favour….!

NOTE: this post of course applies to Dads too but my witty wordplay ended with “Mom” and I don’t have the brain capacity right now to extend it to “Dad”!