Why Im Done Being a Martyr Mom and You Should Be TooHeather Neal
It’s a quarter past nine on Saturday. I’ve yet to have a single bite of breakfast although I’ve been up since 5 that morning. (Coffee, on the other hand, has been flowing since 6- that’s non-negotiable.) I’m standing over a hot stove flipping pancakes with one hand and trying to keep precious baby fingers and toes out of harm’s way with the other. My 14 month old is tired and cranky; he needs to take a nap but I’m about to pass out with hunger. I pull out all of my tricks to keep him occupied for just 5 more minutes until my pancakes are done. I open his favorite cabinets hoping the Tupperware or bottle drawer will distract him; I give him a slippery mango pit to gnaw on; I open the dryer door and hope he will entertain himself pulling out the clean laundry and tossing it every which way. I glance at the clock above the oven. All of about 30 seconds have passed. He’s still whining. I sigh, flip the last pancake, and turn off the heat, silently hoping my breakfast won’t burn and turn into rock hard hockey pucks by the time I can eat it.
I pick up my squirmy toddler and head upstairs. I wrap him in my arms, grab his lovey and a book, and cuddle up in the cozy glider in the corner of his nursery. As I read about Ferdinand the bull, my son drops his head back against my chest and holds his lovey up to my face for a kiss. This is how I know he’ll actually fall asleep for his nap, a rare occurrence around here. I lay him down in his crib with lots of kisses and promises of play time with Grandma and Grandpa when he wakes up. I blow one last kiss as I pull his nursery door shut, hoping his cries of protest don’t wake up my husband.
That’s right. I’ve been up for well over 4 hours and my husband is still wrapped up in our cozy comforter, sound asleep. I can hear him snoring as I creep downstairs to finally snag one of those pancakes. I look around the kitchen at what I’ve already accomplished for the day: there’s evidence of a successful baby breakfast, there’s a pitcher of homemade almond milk waiting to be put in bottles, toddler meals for his stay at his grandparents are half-packed on the counter, and I have a half-eaten chocolate chip pancake in my hand. I’ve already swept the floor twice, built countless block towers, read 386 board books, and sang along with every obnoxious plastic toy in the living room.
What I haven’t done, on this day or any day lately, is go to the gym, meet a deadline with more than 2 minutes to spare, or do something wildly insane like read a book- a book with more words than pictures.
The big question is why? My “baby” is fourteen months old. With that milestone I’ve long lost the excuse of being a new mom. You would think I’d have things under control by now, but most days it feels like I’m flailing about, barely keeping my head above the surface.
I could give you a big list of reasons why: nap time interferes with gym daycare and the group exercise classes I love; it’s too cold to make the baby sit in the stroller while I run around the neighborhood; the husband deserves to sleep in. And the biggest one: it’s my job. It’s my job to be mom. It doesn’t matter that I have another job, my “real” job is to be my son’s mom. It’s the most important one and it’s the only one in which I can’t risk getting the dreaded pink slip.
I know moms are supposed to put themselves first. You can’t take care of your family if you don’t take care of yourself. I’ve heard it a thousand times, but I can’t seem to make myself do it. Why don’t I drag my husband out of bed at 5am when are son screams out loudly from his crib demanding food and attention. Why don’t I insist on getting a daily shower or trip to the gym? Why can’t I stop for 5 minutes to eat my own breakfast with my son instead of getting a jump on the things that have to be done around the house? Why do I keep making excuses for myself and everyone else? Well, I’m done.
Starting Monday, I’m putting me first, even if it’s only for an hour a day.
Who’s with me?