Monday, May 15, 2017

Mother's minutes and the irony of Mother's Day

Me right now- enjoying a baby not screaming
Yesterday was Mother's Day, but more importantly for me, it was an affirmation that taking time EVERY day for myself not aligned with the pomp and circumstance of a day with "holiday" distinction is mission-critical.  This is because this weekend was largely not a celebration at all, but rather a reality check that children, particularly babies, give zero fucks if it's your birthday, Mother's Day, etc. Case in point- our daughter has been down and out with the most intense and clearly painful bout of diaper rash we have ever encountered, and having been battling it since Friday afternoon, we are exhausted and exasperated for relief for her. We are slowly making headway, but it has not been easy, relaxing, or fun. In fact, I'm quite certain I cried more yesterday than I have the past few months combined. 
The irony of Mother's Day is that on a day meant to celebrate all things maternal, I would argue it is somewhat counterproductive to put all of your eggs in one basket when it comes to hoping for one day "off" from Mom-duty. That's the thing- this does not exist. Once you become a parent, you are a parent for eternity. Sure, some people chose to not fill that role, or only fill it with partial presence, but it is a title that doesn't accrue PTO, afford you certain luxuries at certain times, or guarantee happiness of return-on-investment (at least in the short-term).  This weekend, and yesterday in particular, was a reminder that taking time every day to do something important to me is the Mother's Day gift that yields such returns. When you throw all those hopeful eggs in the singular Mother's Day basket, you may get what you were hoping for, or you may get scrambled eggs and lots of tears. 
TJ (age 3) and his "MiMi" - my mom :)
We had some fun moments this weekend including spending time with my mom and a girls' night dinner at a nice restaurant in real adult clothes complete with hair and makeup on (read: my current version of prom). Regarding the latter, though, we had planned this outing several weeks in advance, including taking an Uber home because we were going to PAINT THE TOWN RED baby! Well, I think most women would tell you that mom-guilt is the most powerful motivator on the planet, and I had a severe case of it Saturday evening because I was leaving my miserable, screaming baby with my mom (and it was her Mother's Day too, so no fun for her to have to deal either!). I was tempted to not go at all. The happy medium was to go enjoy dinner and come home early, sober and ready to scrub back in and help with the baby. We had a great time and I got home at a decent hour, so all wasn't completely lost. 
Mom-tribe love 
Aside from the wonderful dinner, tasty wine, and great company, I enjoyed reflecting on motherhood with these women who share similar viewpoints on life in general. We talked about how motherhood has changed us (for better or worse) and compared experiences and thoughts, and while we varied on how we may have changed, I greatly value knowing other women who share my passion for making contributions in a professional setting as well as inside the home with our families and friends. Many of us expressed some guilt and self-doubt about working outside the home or preparing for and celebrating professionals achievements while balancing parenting and marriage. The beauty of evenings like this is the reminder that you aren't alone and others share these feelings. It's amazing how therapeutic it is to hear someone say aloud something you have thought in your head and somehow convinced yourself it is unique to your experience as a (insert role here). That's what I share with these women (and others not pictured whom I greatly appreciate), and it is so important that we not be afraid to divulge our experiences because it is likely you are experiencing similar challenges and may find strength in the revelation you are living in parallel. 

In honor of the official "holiday" of Mothers' Day, I encourage you to use yesterday's distinction as a reminder to take time for yourself every day to do something you value. Do something because you WANT to, and not because you should or have to, that list is likely very long and overwhelming too. Maybe you had a fabulous Mother's Day and would love to relive it time and time again, but I would surmise at some point you may encounter a less-than-stellar Mother's Day (or birthday, or Christmas Day, whatever), and immediately be pining for next year's ::insert holiday here:: because this year was so miserable. Or maybe the holiday distinction carries negative associations for you and you go out of your way to NOT celebrate ::insert holiday::. In any case, the greatest lesson I have learned thus far from juggling the various hats I wear is that small, consistent, daily time for myself is WAY more meaningful that a few isolated shots. These daily doses of "me" time keep me the most sane, and now with raising two young children, there is no time where I shouldn't be doing something. There is ALWAYS something to be done. The issue is- if you are doing all the things, you cannot continue to do all the things well if you aren't doing things for yourself, too. If you need permission to do something for yourself, here it is- you need "you" time, period. Holiday or otherwise, mothers need a moment to reset and invest in the one doing all the things. We will all be a hot mess, covered in diaper cream and eating your toddler's leftover cereal from yesterday because yes that bowl is still sitting on the table, but the proverbial hot mess will always be there. You will not. Your expiration date may creep in closer if you allow it, so take that time for yourself every day. Your "mother's minutes" every day will pay you a return on the investment that a Mother's Day outing never may. 

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