When you become a parent, your priorities change. It’s no longer about looking after yourself, it’s about taking care of your little ones and doing what’s best for them.
During pregnancy, I dreaded the thought of this, but the minute I held my gorgeous little baby in my arms, I knew I would give up the world for her. She gave me the desire to be utterly selfless. I wanted to put her first. My goals became entwined in her future and what I wanted her to have.
The problem is, it has become such a way of life, that I don’t care for myself anymore.
As a stay at home mum, my job is to take care of my family. No matter how tired I am, I have to get up when the baby cries. No matter how worn down I am, I have to flash that smile and play hide and seek. No matter how sick or full of cold I am, I have to make food for everyone.
You see, my life evolves around them.
I know this is how it’s supposed to be. It was my choice to become a mum, and I want to do my absolute best for them. It’s maternal instinct. I love being a stay at home mum and I love caring for my family. But, after 6 years of putting everyone else’s needs before mine, an unexpected poison has seeped into my mind:
I don’t matter.
What sort of mother would I be if I bought each of my children a little present, except one? If I turned to that little child and said, “I’ve already spent lots of money on everyone else so I didn’t get you anything” – what would you think of me?
What if everybody else had time to relax and to play, but I kept saying to that one child of mine, “You can’t play. You’ve got work to do. I don’t care if everyone else is having fun this morning. Can’t you see that big pile of washing that needs sorting out?!”
And what if I let each of my children choose an after school club to puruse their hobbies. But I said to that one child, “There isn’t time for you to have a hobby too. We’re too busy ferrying the other children around and making sure they have the best start in life.”
And what if it was that same child that I singled out time and time and time again? What if I kept saying to that child, “You’re not as important as the others.”
You would think me a monster.
And yet that’s what I do to myself every. single. day.
This isn’t selfless love anymore. This is self abuse.
I deprive myself. I sacrifice my wants and needs so that they can have. Yes, that’s part of being a mummy, but somehow I’ve taken it to the extreme.
It’s not a choice anymore – it’s a chain; a self-inflicted rule that I have to abide by.
I can’t give myself permission to have a break. I don’t know how. I don’t know how to switch off. I don’t know how to relax without feeling guilty. There are so many other things I should be doing right now. This isn’t a priority. I’ll just have 5 minutes and then I’ll get on.
You are a priority too
Mums – it shouldn’t be like this. We DO matter.
Our kids need us, but they need us to be rested and relaxed. We parent better when we’re happy and chilled out. We need to value ourselves because that is how our children will learn to value themselves.
Yes it’s important to look after them. Yes they often need to be the priority. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t feature in the priority list at all. We are still important. We are still deserving. We are still valuable and special. Mums (and dads) need looking after too. Becoming a parent doesn’t make us invincible.
There is still a little child inside you that needs caring for, and needs to be reassured. That child needs to hear that they are worthy…
…And yet I can’t help fearing that this self-depreciating, negative thought pattern is too firmly ingrained in me. Will I ever find the balance between selfless love and self-abuse?