Well, Motherhood has been my biggest teacher to date. It’s taught me my most important lesson – that I have worth and dignity because I exist, not just because I do…and do…and do.
The first several years of motherhood were rough. I tried to do everything, and failed… repeatedly. I’ve learned and am still practicing.
Because I have worth, because I exist, that means I get to, no NEED to, take care of myself. That looks like knowing and honoring my limits and capacity, and doing what I can when I can to strengthen myself. This looks like recognizing and honoring my needs first.
When I first had Olie, I essentially forgot that I existed, and did everything that was best for him. I gave up sleep. I gave up my job. I gave up so much of myself. To be what I thought he needed. To give him everything I thought he needed.
More than all the things I tried to give him, he needs a happy mother, and a happy father, in a happy relationship. And to be happy, I need to take care of myself. I need to be selfish, so that I can be who I want to be in my relationships, to my self, husband and son.
I wouldn’t change anything that I’ve done, because I needed to do it that way to learn what I needed to learn, but I would do things differently if I were doing it again. (and we’re not.)
Here are some of the changes:
I would ask for help early and often, especially babysitters. Babysitters are good, essential, necessary, and cheaper than counseling.
I would take time for myself sooner, a day, a night, a weekend. I would involve Mark more in the daily parenting. I would let go of my ideas about how things needed to be done, and let them learn on their own – a lot sooner.
I would plan for my capacity, not Olie’s. What I can handle matters more than what he can handle. You have to understand, that my capacity rarely exceeds Olie’s. =)
I would prioritize sleep. If I don’t sleep, I don’t function, and everyone’s unhappy. If I were doing it again, I would get more sleep sooner, and do what it took to get it.
I would take time with Mark more. Dates. Weekend trips. Make our time together the highest priority after I have taken care of myself.