My son turned one at the end of August. We didn’t have the celebration we had imagined, but we did get to celebrate him and the fact that we made it through the first year. We had a small gathering, grandparents and godparents. It was lovely and exhausting.
In preparation for the party, I hung a “1st BDay” banner from our unadorned curtain rod…It’s still there.
I see those gold, semi-inflated letters as a representation of all of the chores that I’ve left undone, all of the unchecked boxes on my to-do list. I also see it as the time I’ve gotten to spend with my son and on myself.
As a working mom, it is sometimes difficult to reconcile my son spending most of his time with someone else with the fact that I have to work to be the best me I can be. In the end, I know this is the best situation for all of us. His daycare is wonderful and I would not be a good stay at home (that’s really hard work). What it does mean is that I have very limited time to be a mom, a wife, and me. I’ve chosen to prioritize spending my time with the people who matter to me and the things I need to do for myself.
Self-care has become such a buzzy topic lately and for good reason: it is important. There is a lot of information about what self-care is and is not. In my work, I talk a lot about the idealized version of motherhood that is often portrayed in the media and in our own minds. As women and mothers, we place pressure on ourselves to meet these, often, unrealistic expectations. The house must be spotless, the children must have a well balanced home-cooked meal every night with all food groups and all colors of the rainbow, workout for 60 minutes, sleep for eight hours, make time to be social and don’t forget that self care. It can all be too much. When I see that gold banner I think, I should take that down, and then I think about better ways to spend my time.
I sometimes wish I was one of those people who gets joy from mopping or enjoys cleaning, but I’m not and I’m okay with it. I’m okay with a bit of dust and a spot on the floor. I’m okay with a dish in the sink or a load of laundry unfolded. I’m okay with not meeting unrealistic expectations. I can have a gleaming house and a bunch of guilt, or I can take the little time I do have to spend with the people that matter to me. The choice is easy and one that I’m really okay with.
So cut yourself some slack, and give yourself permission to leave something unchecked while you fill your time with something you want to do.