It starts in earnest during pregnancy. You give up little things like coffee and alcohol. You start sleeping solely on your side. You stop eating sushi and salami, and you divert funds toward the nursery and all the baby gear. You happily give up your vices and many of your pleasures during pregnancy. While it isn't easy, you do whatever it takes to have a healthy child.
Then, your baby is born and your six-weeks of incarceration begins. You start to grieve the life you once had, as you slowly realize most of it isn't coming back. You begin to love and embrace your new turn as mother. Yet one day you wake up to discover your new identity as mother has superseded the real you. What happened to “real you?” You remember her, she was the one who slept in, exercised for
at least an hour a day, and chatted on the phone frequently with friends. She ate her favorite foods with abandon, and occasional spent a full day on self-care rituals such as mani-pedis and shopping sprees.
As crazy as it sounds, new you started judging old you — maybe it helps with the grief. Your world got smaller and you allowed it to slowly slip away for the sake of your family.
As your world shrank, you began to really miss the old, self-absorbed you who had no idea how much free time she had on her hands. And now, whenever you pause to wish for a couple the activities old you loved — like a massage or a glass of red wine — guilt stops you in your tracks.
So you make excuses that keep you stuck in a rut: You don't go to the salon because you don't have time; you eat mac-n-cheese for days on end because that's the only things your kids eat ; you don't buy the new p
urse because you should buy shoes for the kids ; you don't spend money on the (fill in the blank) because you are afraid your (husband , friends, family) won't understand.
We mothers label it self-sacrifice, but really, we what we really feel is guilt . In the name of Family, we placed our former lives on the shelves like old bowling trophies . Our former lives sit up there, on display, as a reminder of what we gave up to become a Good Mother.
Why? There are a number of ageless reasons why women stop investing in themselves for the sakes of their families. My point isn't to find out why
we do it – we know why we do it. My point is to say that feeling guilty for wanting to be you is a disservice to you and your family .
It is healthy for your family to know what you like to do. Your kids will learn that their needs don't always have to come first.
It is healthy for you to cook your favorite meal for dinner and expect that every one eat it. Your family discovers who you are and some of your personal preferences. They learn that getting to know someone else is interesting.
It is healthy for your kids to see you exercise. It helps them learn the importance and benefits of taking care of their bodies .
It is healthy to invest your money and time on a career, on a program, on school or on a passion. And an occasional splurge in support of self-care is necessary because a happier you makes for a much happier family. You might even become a role model.
You see, when you grow you have more to give. We can't keep trying to give more as our true selves shrink into memory. It is simple math; you can't give more when you have less.
I would talk about balance, but if you identify with this article, I am confident that there is no fear that you will fall down the hole of self-absorption. That fear is just another form of the guilt. It is time you pick up the story of you wherever you left off.