I’ve been thinking about this post for several months now. I think it started while I was mulling over what new passion project to pursue after I finish the Road to Majors one. While going through this exercise, I realized that when we become adults with responsibilities, it is not that common to commit time and energy to take on a superfluous endeavor, pursuits that are not work or family related. This is especially true when you are a mom.
In the past months I’ve had conversations with women from different backgrounds. The reasons for coming together were varied but a recurring theme that seemed to surface at some point was one of self-care guilt. We feel remorseful when we choose to spend our extra time doing things for ourselves. We get uneasy at the thought of making time to do things that we deem as totally unnecessary because they don’t serve a work or family-related purpose. We sometimes think we are a bad mom for wanting to “waste time” on personal projects or when we do things not for anything else but their own sake.
But who is this bad mom? Let’s go through a few examples.
She is ambitious. She likes being a leader and takes command of endeavors that build value. She does so because she also believes in the value she brings to the table and ultimately because in her lies the drive to excel in all that she chooses to focus on.
She is selfish. She chooses to do things sometimes not for anyone else or not for any higher purpose but to take good care of herself. She does this because she believes that she can give more and be more in all the roles that she plays if she fills her cup. Building up her self abundance allows the gift of herself to overflow to all that matters to her.
She is irresponsible. She likes doing things just because it is fun. She revels in the giddiness of her children as they share an ice cream even before they have breakfast. She is one of the first people to say yes to the idea of daytime drinking with her closest friends because she knows she has to be home for homework.
She is irrational. She is all heart. She loves and gives even if she does not fully understand why. She does so because she wants to and grows every single day that she does so. But she also listens to her gut and “just knows” things even without a logical explanation. There’s much to be said about a mother’s instinct.
She is insensitive. She does not sweat the small stuff and DGAF about things that don’t truly matter. She cares deeply and passionately though about the few important people in her life and what they think and feel. And has defined what matters of great consequence mean to her , choosing to devote her limited head and heart space on these instead. Otherwise, she just let’s it slide.
She is negative. She says “no”a lot of times. When compelled to do something, she asks if this is a hell yeah. If the answer is not a resounding yes, then she just walks away. She preserves her limited energy for things that fuel her and make her feel alive. She chooses to give her full attention to that which she loves wholeheartedly.
She is clingy. She sometimes just wants to spend every waking moment with her partner. She likes being a girlfriend all over again, having long brunch dates or an overextended nightcap. She makes sure her children are in the hands of people she trusts fully so she can simply enjoy her date.
She doesn’t like company. She loves her quiet times. She seeks out silence, taking long walks or even traveling on her own to deliberately find and ground herself. She needs this to refresh her well of generosity that perpetually gives. She is the gift that keeps on giving but she can’t continue to do so if her vigor is sucked dry. Solitude is her respite and oasis.
She is not always present. She does not spend every minute with her children. She knows that they have to grow as unique individuals and this happen not always under her watchful eye. She admits that she may not be the best person to teach them or to inspire them but that she does her best every time. She has accepted that as a mom, it is okay to just be good enough. But when she is with them, she is fully there.
She is guilty. Guilt is something she has constantly dealt with especially in a society that highlights mothers as ever nurturing and self-sacrificing. Even if she tries not to feel this way and she knows she can give more to her loved ones if she consciously chooses to do more and be more, she can’t help but be burdened by this feeling of shame.
This guilt that surrounds self care is further kindled by even the closest people to us. My own mom makes me feel like a bad mom when she tells me that she pities my kids when I’m away traveling. My friends who have made it their choice to be ultra hands-on parents sometimes make me feel this way even if they don’t intend to. Society makes us feel guilty. Social media amplifies this further. Despite living in a modern society, there remains to be the notion that moms should take care of everybody. But who takes care of mom and how can she thrive?
She will flourish if she has her own space to do so. Allow our moms to find themselves in the various aspects of their lives. Give them the breathing room to explore so they can come back rejuvenated to take care of everyone else’s spaces.
She will blossom if she is celebrated as an individual. Let her be her own self apart from her family. She is beautiful in her own entirety. Her worth is within and will continue to shine forth and brightly as she is treated with respect as a unique person.
She will succeed if she defines her own measure of being a good mom. If she thinks it’s okay to give her kids cereals at breakfast so she can just relax and fully engage her little ones without worrying too much whether they are eating, then that’s okay. Okay is good enough.
She will grow fully if she is supported. She knows that she needs others to help her become a good mom. She makes sure that she builds a strong support team who she can delegate the other aspects of being a mom to. This allows her to focus and bring her full self to the other things that matter to her without constantly worrying about her family. It helps a lot if her life partner is also her staunchest supporter.
She will thrive in being a mindful mom. This is someone who is focused and fully present when she is playing the role of mom. She is fully engaged, basking in the warmth of her children playing all around her. They vie for her attention and she gives this in leaps and bounds. She makes deliberate choices about how her day flows and sets limits so she can be there when she said she would. She does this everyday, trying to be the best mom she can be even if she knows the best she could muster as a bad mom is just being a good enough mom.
Happy Mothers’ Day to us!