When my baby was born I think I did about one week of carrying him with me every moment. To the kitchen to make a PB&J, out to the mailbox, to use the bathroom. Very quickly did I realize not all of this was going to work for me. Starting with taking him with me every time I needed to use the toilet. So I decided that he would have to learn that sometimes I would need to leave him for a moment to take care of a need – but that each time I would be right back. It felt odd at first (let’s be real, everything about new parenthood is odd and sort of like an epic DIY experiement). But it quickly worked for us. We began to get to know each other’s needs in those small ways.
Fast forward about a year and a half. I went out to lunch with another single mom and our two 1.5ish year olds. At one point my toddler started screeching about something. I hadn’t had a second to eat that day and I was beyond hungry. I told him “I hear you but I need to eat right now. It’s called self-care.” And then I took a bite and smile/grimaced at the other mom. She just raised her eyebrows and went back to being 100% attentive mom (who 1. is absolutely part of her own fully perfect mom-child dyad – a truly lovely pair, but 2. did not get to eat her whole meal – just sayin’). That moment burned on my brain and made me feel…sort of crappy – even though I knew that I truly, deeply needed a bite of food (and that my child needed a mom who could have a bite of food). But it got me thinking. Was I supposed to forgo things like eating until my child was perfectly contented, and be attentive to every possible peep? Was I completely fucking this whole thing up? Was I just failing harder and harder everyday??? Deep, deep, deepest thoughts.
Fast forward again almost another year later. An awesome friend, let’s call her Saint Rachel, sent me this article. Woohoo! Victory lap!!! The way I parent is an actual thing! Ahhhh, the sun rose in the forest! What. A. Huge. Relief.
From the article… “Parenting Fact: Our babies and toddlers will never give us permission to take care of our needs.” Mind = blown. This whole time I thought it was just me. I have to thank Janet Lansbury for this tiny piece of permission to stop feeling like I need to be an “egoless” parent. And to thank Saint Rachel for always hooking me up with one life preserver or another. May everyone have a Saint Rachel. Amen.
If you are the parent of a young child this article is probably going to blow your mind, too. If you are a parent of an older child you probably have this down already – but a reminder of what “self-care” actually is (hint = it’s not a candlelit bubble bath) is always good! Plus you are going to want to click around her site for a while. It’s a goldmine.