Mom Guilt. It’s everywhere, weaving its sticky tentacles in and out of everything we need to do, want to do, and end up not doing, all because some nostalgic Hallmark mom keeps pointing out, “It goes by so fast! Treasure every second.” Well I’m here to give Mom Guilt the swift kick in the ass it deserves, before it convinces yet another mom to give up on doing something she loves, just so she can spend every waking second with little Junior, lest she miss him finally figuring out where boogers come from.
I don’t know about your toddler, but mine gets up early, usually around 5:30-6:00am. She then trucks along her day, at manic-toddler pace, until her afternoon nap, which ranges anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours on a good day. Then she’s back at it until bedtime at 7 or 8, when I finally collapse on the couch in a dull-eyed stupor, too tired to protest YET ANOTHER baseball game, or push the cat off my full bladder that I’m too exhausted to do anything about.
Adding it all up, I spend darn close to 12 solid hours with my kid every single day, which, I’ve decided, is the same level of crazy as Donald Trump running for president. What’s even more looney is suggesting to someone they should “enjoy every second.” You want me to enjoy every single one of the roughly 43,200 seconds of my day I spend with someone who treats me like a playmate/servant/chef/trampoline? That’s like telling someone to eat 10 gallons of ice cream in one sitting, and enjoy every frozen spoonful, even as your blood sugar reaches dangerously high levels, and you actually feel yourself getting the diabetes. Take your “enjoy every second” and shove it, people. Shove it deeply, shove it far, shove it somewhere it never returns, because that shit is whack.
I think a much healthier thing to say to people would be, “Be sure to make time for yourself, otherwise it can be hard to enjoy the time you have with your kid.” Admittedly it doesn’t have the same ring, but that doesn’t make it any less true. For me, since taking up blogging, I have found it easier to dedicate time where I can actually enjoy playing with my toddler more since I’m balancing everything out by doing something for me. And what does she do while I’m blogging? Well, depending on her nap, she is either sleeping, or, brace yourself, playing alone (gasp!). Now this isn’t always seamless, and she does her fair share of whining that, in all honesty, I mostly ignore, but eventually she settles into a game that requires a little attention here and there, and we both do our thing for a bit. And you know what? It’s glorious. For both of us.
Looking over as she does whatever she wants to do, with whatever toys she has decided to play with, absolutely fills my heart. Not only does it give me a chance to see, when left to her own devices, what toys and games she wants to play with, but it also lets me start to tease apart what her personality is like without my direct influence. It teaches her independence, and lets her try things by herself without me there to show her the way, or do whatever she is trying to do for her. The best part? Usually she works it out, and even if it’s not the way I would do it, she still finds a way to accomplish her little goals, just showing me how incredible that little brain of hers really is.
I obviously can’t speak for everybody, but I would still give the same advice to all of my friends, in all of their different situations (SAHM, working full-time, working part-time) because if you aren’t taking care of yourself, how are you ever supposed to take care of someone else? So go to the gym, join your old LARP group, go do whatever it is you do at that place you used to go to all the time, prior to becoming an indentured servant. But do it. Take some time, even 20 minutes, and do something for you, every day. And before you do, be sure to give Mom Guilt the finger.