Monday, April 12, 2010

Moms - it's okay to be "selfish"

I have the word "selfish" in quotes on purpose.  To many, especially to moms, it's a bad word.  Right up there with George Carlin's 7 words you can't say on TV.

So many moms I read about - whose blogs I read, and very few who I personally know -  feel guilty for being "selfish."  Yes, being selfish CAN be a bad thing when it's taken to an unhealthy degree.  But doing something for just you - something you alone enjoy, want to do, get pleasure from - that has NOTHING to do with your children or husband is a critical, sometimes self-preserving, need that I think all humans have.

We were people before we were wives and moms.  We had jobs we enjoyed, we went out with friends and shared a glass of wine and the latest gossip, we did dumb things we hope our kids never find out we did, and we took care of ourselves first, and others second.  And then we had a husband and kids and we adjusted these things to go along with our new lives.  Some of us left our jobs to stay home with our kids.  Some couldn't do that - or didn't want to.  We still went out with our friends, only now we met them at the park and shared a cup of coffee and the latest school rankings.  We got too busy for doing dumb things because we were changing diapers, and doing laundry, and supervising homework, and chauffering to this sport and that dance class, and let's not forget trying to fit in the time to pay attention to our husband.  And we got to the point where we were taking care of others first and ourselves last.  We forgot that person we were before we got married and had little persons that our lives now revolve around. 

See - the thing is that our kids are going to grow up.  And while we will always be their mom, our lives won't revolve around them as much as they do when they are little.  And we will have to know who we are - in addition to being moms.

We moms need to be able to treat ourselves as well as we treat our children. If our children mean everything to us, and I know they do, then we must teach them that taking care of ourselves is okay. Sacrificing all of our own desires so that our children can have everything we think they need or want is not okay. Doing that teaches the wrong message - to girls it says that they must sacrifice their own needs for the good of someone else - children and/or husband. That when you become a mom, you can't do or get what you want if it is at the expense of something your children or husband want.  But the resentment of always putting others' needs before ours can become overwhelming.

We must allow ourselves to be at the top of the priority list sometimes.  Taking care of ourselves is NOT selfish.  Taking care of ourselves IS the priority.

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