Update: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Hewitt skipped her daughters’ assembly to go to the gym when in fact she went for a run.
I laid out my running clothes before I went to bed the other night. When my alarm clock went off, I slipped on my running tights and laced up my sneakers. My plan was to drop my kids off at school and go for a much-needed run. Running is something I do for me and I’ve been putting my fitness on the back burner lately.
Then came the group texts reminding me of an event I’d forgotten. Then, my son reminded me that I’d promised to make spaghetti and meatballs for dinner that night and a peek into my pantry revealed that we had neither spaghetti or meatballs. And so on.
Before I had my first cup of coffee in hand, my day was filling up with stuff I had to do for other people and the next 12 hours were a blur. I remember sighing as I took off those running shoes at the end of the day because I’d never managed to get that run in.
The next day, I read a post on Facebook written by blogger and freelance television reporter, Kristen Hewitt. The post talked about how she’d ditched her daughter’s honor roll assembly and went for a run instead.
I’ll admit it … my initial reaction was a little judgmental. “Who does that?” I thought. My kids’ schedules drive my calendar and everything else I do is crammed in around their stuff. Sometimes I resent it, but most of the time, I accept that putting our kids first just goes with the territory of being a mother.
In her Facebook post, Hewitt talks about feeling guilty for missing an event that was important to her daughter. The decision to do something for herself versus something for her daughter didn’t come easy. Hewitt referred to a rough couple of weeks and not having any time for herself. She mentioned juggling kids, work, school, house stuff, pets, anxiety, and a busy day ahead … and self-care won.
And you know what? Self-care deserved to win that day.
Sometimes, we can’t do everything and be everything — choices have to be made.
“Time is the one thing everybody needs and don’t have enough of,” says Hewitt in an interview with Babble. “We as mothers always feel like we have to put everyone’ else’s needs above our own. We take care of the house and our kids and everything else and we’ve forgotten that our needs matter. We matter. Taking care of ourselves is taking care of our kids. I just knew that morning, I needed some time to myself and to get away and clear my head. This was my way of doing it.”
Hewitt went on to explain that her husband and her mom were present at her daughter’s honor roll ceremony, so it wasn’t as if there were no family members present to celebrate her daughter’s accomplishments. And, while getting all As for the first time is certainly celebration-worthy, as Hewitt stated, “It wasn’t her first assembly and there will be others. I always show up for my kids, but I never show up for myself.”
Putting our kids first might go with the territory of being a mother, but should it always be like that? Maybe missing or postponing something in order to do something for ourselves is easier said than done, but Hewitt sends a pretty powerful message that self-care makes us better moms.
“I was worried about putting this message out there because I thought a lot of people would say I’m selfish or would judge me, but I don’t really care what other people think,” says Hewitt. “I needed to take care of myself and I’m guessing other women and other mothers need to do the same. I felt like putting this message out there would help inspire other people to put themselves first.”
Message received. Even though my first reaction was, “Who does this?” my answer is “Well, I should.” And maybe you should, too.
I’m putting my running clothes out again tonight — and, tomorrow, I’m showing up for myself.