(This is my 100th post!)
Sometimes when Little Man is yelling for me because he can’t quite reach the toy he wants, or can’t quite get up on the couch, or some other very important toddler frustration, and I’m in the middle of dinner (or a book, or any activity that is helping me center myself), I won’t come to help him.
Instead, I’ll encourage him to try to figure it out, or to find a different, less frustrating activity. And it took a long time before I didn’t feel guilty about this. That I didn’t feel like I was being a selfish monster. Because I’m not being a selfish monster. I think I’m actually being a good mother, teaching my child to be independent and solve problems. But it didn’t feel like it. It felt like I was being completely self-absorbed.
I mean, as a mommy, am I supposed to be at the beck and call of my little ones? Am I going to damage them (G-d forbid) by taking time for myself? By making them wait just a minute before I run to them?
I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. I asked some of my friends why they thought this was the case. My friend Karen suggested that this idea of being an on-call mommy stems from the backlash generated from the “Me” generation. That the horror of being so self-absorbed was boomeranged into self-abnegation. As usual, the path is in the middle, and it fluctuates from time to time, so you have to keep your finger on the pulse.
It’s a balance between taking care of yourself and taking care of your kids. I think this generation has come to understand that in order to take care of your kids, you need to take care of yourself. There’s a story I heard once about a mommy who would lock herself in the kitchen to have her coffee before she started mommying. If her kids would ask what she was doing, she would reply, “I’m making a mommy!”
It’s a matter of knowing how and when to balance your me-time and your mommy-time.
For instance, when the baby is screaming his head off, has three teeth coming in, a fever and a massive diaper rash, it’s probably not the best time to drink coffee and catch up on your favorite blogs. However if he’s taken care of, fed, clean, rested, then you can absolve yourself. Unless you just want to play with him. That’s also understandable!
Now that I have a toddler AND an infant, I think it would be even easier to try to be an uber-mommy, and to come down hard on myself when I fall short. Sometimes the baby is going to cry while I’m changing Little Man’s diaper, and vice versa. It is unavoidable. I cannot be in two places at once.
So, this is my new mantra: I am doing the best I can. Say it with me. I am doing the best I can.