Why Moms Put Themselves Last
As Moms, we’ve all been there. First it starts with a cough, then a sneeze, then a “Moooooommmy” rings out in the night, confirming your fears. The flu has hit your home. You cross your fingers that it will pass by quickly and leave you unscathed, but that’s pretty hard when your little ones haven’t quite mastered the art of covering their sneezes or coughing into their sleeve rather than into your face. We care for our little ones with love and cuddles, comforting them in the night as they cough, sneeze, sniffle, or vomit, doing everything we can to make them feel better. As much as you try to protect yourself with getting extra sleep (Ha! Who actually achieves that?!), taking your multi-vitamins, and drinking lots of hot tea, sometimes it is inevitable. Moms get sick too.
This past week, it was my turn. Both kids had come down with a nasty flu bug, with fevers and a yucky chest cough that just left them feeling awful. They caught it first, and I did what I could to prevent myself from getting sick. But, despite holding my breath when they coughed on me, washing my hands a million times a day, and taking extra vitamin C, the flu finally caught up to me. I struggled to make it to work each day, I dragged myself out of bed to tend to the kids during the night when they needed me, I rescheduled conference calls and meetings that I just couldn’t make it to, and I fell into bed at night feeling absolutely horrible. And, do you know what? I was mad. I was frustrated. And I felt defeated. I wasn’t able to complete nearly as many things on my mile-long to-do list, and I felt that I was letting everyone down in the process.
Why is that?
Why is it so hard for us to look after ourselves with as much love and care as we do our children? Why is it so hard for us to tuck ourselves into bed with cozy pajamas and a warm drink when we’re feeling chilled and crappy? I’ll tell you why: Mom Guilt. We, as a population, have come to put so much pressure on ourselves to measure up and “be the best Mom you can be” that it has become almost impossible for us to allow ourselves to just step down and take a break when we’re not feeling well, and to realize that by taking care of ourselves, we are being the best Mom we can be.
When the kids are sick, they just want Mom; how do we balance it all?
But guess what? You can take a break, and you should take a break.
Moms, we have got to bring ourselves down from the Mom Pedestal that we have placed ourselves on, and realize that we are human. We get sick. We feel yucky some days. And it is perfectly fine to take a break, prioritize, and look after ourselves when we are sick. Not only is it ok, it is something that we need to do. Let’s face it, moms carry a lot of pressure and often bear the brunt of the mental load of parenting. If we allow ourselves to crash to rock bottom, then what good are we to our family? Let’s stop torturing ourselves and pushing ourselves to power through, when what we really need is some decent rest and time to get better.
This year, my New Year’s Resolution wasn’t to lose weight, quit a bad habit, or run a marathon. No, my New Year’s Resolution was to make myself a priority and to look after my own well-being as well as my family’s. There are countless articles out there that speak to how moms need a break and need to incorporate self-care into their routine. Well, self-care isn’t something that happens overnight, and it isn’t something that is solved with a bubble bath here and there. But we can take small steps towards making ourselves and our mental and physical well-being a priority again. For me, that means stopping when I’m sick and resting when I need to. It means calling in sick to work without feeling guilty. It means telling the children that I need some quiet time while I sit and do my paint-by-number (my new favorite hobby!) without feeling guilty about it.
We can do this, Moms. We’re all in it together, and this season of parenting can be hard when we’re raising little ones and trying to keep ourselves happy and healthy in the process. But, if we take small steps toward making ourselves a priority and letting the world continue turning while we take a break and rest, we will all be better off in the end. So, come down off the Mom Pedestal and join me in the trenches. I may not be a perfect Mom, but I am real, I love my kids, and I know in my heart that I’m doing my very best. That will always be enough. You will always be enough.