Growing up you dream of having a family. The stories about the all consuming love and joy it brings are contagious.
I remember those long nights in NYC when nights out with friends grew tiring or the struggle to make it paycheck to paycheck felt too hard, I would dream about marriage and life with my future kids. All my problems would melt away.
October 22. 2007 was the date. Exactly two years to the date after I got married, I sat in a hospital room holding my baby girl, Claire Briceida, waiting for that rush of love I heard about. For me it did not come right away. I knew I loved her and wanted to care for her, but the bond was not as strong as I imagined. For the first eight weeks between the lack of sleep and her constant crying from reflux connection, all consuming love was the last thing I felt. At 10 weeks old she smiled for the first time and an insane rush of tears and love washed over me like an ocean.
Since having kids I lost myself, like literally my whole self. I became someone that was relied on, depended on. I was a rock for the family. It left me wondering, who am I? What makes me different?
I struggled with self worth because the career that gave me my identity felt like an obstacle to my family life now and my paycheck went straight to daycare. Staying at home felt scary, I thrive on recognition and mom and home duties are not measurable. No one is there to celebrate having the house in order and happy kids at the end of the day.
I had goals of owning my own business and travel and they were dying a slow death. “Selfish” is the ultimate insult to call a mother, it cuts to the core of what being a mother is, which is about giving. We give up our bodies, hearts, careers, friendships, and retire our goals for our children. As a mom our needs can feel like an inconvenience most days. When my dreams felt selfish I would find comfort and pride in being selfless. The smiles on my little ones faces were enough some days.
After a two-year struggle, I realized I did not want my kids to wake up one day and say their mom was unhappy, sensitive, and not a role model for life, health, and love. Telling myself in a million ways I didn’t matter, stuffing down my inner voice trying to scream that my feelings and goals were important.
If we look up self-love or self-care, we see words like conceited or pompous. It is no wonder we feel so uncomfortable saying that despite having a family we will still go after what we want. That we can challenge ourselves and still love our family. We feel selfish and unsupported doing that. We fear being judged as a mother or hurting our kids. I am here to tell you I pushed those boundaries.
Here are five reasons investing in yourself does not make you a selfish mom:
Energy: When you push guilt aside and allow yourself to be in the moment of an activity that inspires and energizes you, you take the positive flow of emotion back to your family. Them missing you for a few hours is worth it when they get a mom who is smiling, happier, and rejuvenated.
Focus: Instead of spending your time with them feeling frustrated, short tempered, and day dreaming about a moment to yourself, you will be hyper focused on them because you know you have that time scheduled for yourself. You can put your cell phone away when you play with them. The time with them may have less quantity but it will be more quality.
Excitement: When is the last time you had a project you were so excited about it didn’t matter if you got less sleep because you craved time for it. You got so lost in the process you skipped a meal by mistake. This should be everyday not once in a awhile. That kind of excitement and passion should be a requirement for your life not a bonus. It is contagious and will help your children find activities that make them feel the same.
Confidence: The more you grow as a person and master different skills, your confidence grows. You become more open to trying new things because you believe you can. When you overcome something you used to struggle with, it is empowering and inspires more action.
Taking Action: We don’t always know what makes us happy. The best way to learn is by taking action and trying different things. If we want our children to explore the world and different ideas, we need to show them through action. When we involve our kids in the process of learning a new skill or visiting a new place, you will bond more as a family and get them comfortable with this priceless life skill.
I made sacrifices to start my own business that allowed my family to live abroad in Costa Rica. I am happier filling myself up. I love more. I give more. I am far from selfish. The term selfless is treated like a gift but it should not mean you lose yourself to help others. I think we have it all wrong. We should strive to be self-full. By filling yourself to the brim with all things that make you happy, you will have more energy and light to bring into the world. You will want to help more people. You will love more. You will empower your children to do the same.
Comment below and let me know about a time you did something just for you and the positive impact it had on you and your family. If you connected with this article, please share it with someone you know who could benefit. For more updates click here.