Look, Arnebya is here!
She is one of those writers who can be so funny, that they can get away with talking about the deepest truths in ways that bypass our resistances. Trough her blog I learned that we both navigate life with barely-eaters who live at the bottom of the growth chart, and when we metat BlogHer I found out that she can dance like nobody’s business. So yeah, I’m thrilled to feature her as the 2nd guest-poster in the Mama’s Comfort Camp birthday month blogging festival.
Arnebya is a writer, speaker, wife, and mother. She blogs at What Now and Why about life and all it entails (yes, that includes pie.) You can find her on Twitter and Facebook (is it really so hard for you to click and like her page? IS IT?)
Passing the Mic to Arnebya:
I didn’t even know I was doing it (well, not every time), but evidently I’d been doing it so regularly that it became a habit. We were in Target for odds and ends (I had a list! This, of course, means nothing. That damn bull’s-eye hypnotizes you and your paltry list of 6 things totaling $30 turns into 30 things totaling $200+). I needed socks. We left without my socks because by the time I bought for everyone else, the socks seemed pointless. At home, my daughter asked, “Where are your socks?” I just shrugged and said I’d get them another time.
We were in the grocery store (again, a list! This, of course, means nothing as I must buy All Of The Things.) I wanted avocado badly. But, by the time all of the food was on the belt and I started to see the total climbing higher and higher (and anticipating my husband’s face as I came into the house yet again with 10 bags instead of 2 because didn’t we just talk about this?), I said never mind to the avocado. At home, my daughter asked, “Why did you put the avocado back?” I just shrugged and said I’d get them another time. Don’t worry about it.
Time and again this happened until most recently she decided to pursue my shrugging it off. I’d made dinner and handed each person her plate. I washed a few dishes, then went to make my own plate. As I did, there was only one piece of bread left. My daughter came in, asking if there was more. Grudgingly, though hoping I didn’t show it, I handed her the last piece. She said thanks and started to walk away. She turned, though, and asked if I was going to eat it. I told her she could have it. She put it on my plate and said, “You always do that. You don’t buy things for yourself because you’ve spent what you intended for yourself on us. You don’t buy things you want but will get what we ask for. Why?”
“It’s my job to take care of you,” I said.
“What about you, though? What about taking care of you?” Oh, how this hurt. I have been unwittingly showing her that I don’t matter, that it’s OK if I don’t take care of myself because it’s more important to take care of them. She’s 12. And I don’t want her to have this impression of motherhood. I don’t want her to neglect herself because that’s what her mom did.
I sat for a long while after dinner thinking about her words. Embarrassing that it is, having a 12-year-old tell me I need to take better care of myself, I still had to think about it. I have done their hair when I planned on doing my own and because it took so long I’ve decided to just wear a ponytail. I need new shoes but so do they; they’ll get theirs and I’ll deem mine good enough. The last of the juice, they can have. The last of the food, the better clothes, they can have both. I’ll wash the clothes, fold them, then put them away even though the latter is their job; I’ll just do it. It’s someone’s chore day for dishes but I do them just because.
It is true I do these things to take care of them and so they have less that they’re responsible for (because I’m the adult; I’m the mom. I should be able to keep the house together (stop looking at me like that; you know you sometimes think this)), but it’s also true that this is tiring. I am tired. I used to like going to yoga. It was my one day a week of something specifically for me. I looked forward to it. I craved it. And then, I just stopped going. Too many nights of extended homework help and the ease of saying I’m too tired. Why is it so easy to tell myself I’m not worth the effort to put on yoga pants (OK, different yoga pants, because I’m likely already in a pair)? Why is it so easy to deny myself things I need or want? I thought about this for a long time after her questions about the bread. I realized she was right, 12 or not.
I have conditioned myself to accept less — from myself. And I don’t like it.
The next morning, I told her I’d be home late because I was going to yoga.
“You should. You deserve it,” she said.
And you know what? I damn sure do. Now, who moved my mat?
Have your needs/wants taken a backseat since you became a parent? What do you do to reconnect with/take care of yourself?
One of my favorite soapboxes is keeping mama’s needs in the forefront. So no wonder I love the insights here. Thank you Arnebya!
Mama’s Comfort Camp will turn 1 year old on March 12.
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