As a stay-at-home mom, I seldom have alone time, unless I carve it out of the wee hours of the morning, but sometimes this leaves me feeling tired because my husband gets home late and we regularly stay up past midnight. I know a lot of women can do it, but this mom can’t sustain herself on five hours of sleep for long. So, I rarely have time alone and as an introvert and empath, I really do need time alone to recharge. Most often my time alone occurs because my mother is gracious enough to offer to watch our daughter and then I get an entire Saturday to myself.
I’ve often referred to these rare solo days as Self Love Saturdays and like the other Saturdays that I’ve had alone, I awoke this morning eager to make a list of the things I plan to do to show myself some love. Then, I stopped myself and realized what ridiculous notions I have of self love.
In a relationship, we would feel rather shitty if our partners only showed us love every few months and made a big deal about it. Love, true love, is in the little daily actions. Why should this be any different regarding self love? Self love, too, is in the little things we do each day to keep our cups full.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my alone time. I like when the house is quiet and I can write undisturbed, when I can jump in my car and go wherever I want without worrying about whether or not my child is hungry or tired. However, it’s unfair to hold in my mind the notion that mothering prevents me from giving myself some love. This mentality builds resentment. This mentality causes mothers to act recklessly. It’s also unfair to put the burden of my well-being on my child’s shoulders. I am guilty of saying to her in an exasperated tone, “I need time away.” She may wonder, “Away from what?” And while I’d never say it, what I’m feeling in that moment is: “Away from you.”
The truth of this stings quite a bit and I realize I must rethink my notions regarding self love. Why do I feel like I need to be alone to be loving to myself? Why do I feel I can only recharge my batteries when I’m alone?
The list of things I awoke feeling eager to do were:
1. Coffee in bed until I felt like getting up. (for the record, I got out of bed, made the bed, and got dressed just as I do every single day when my daughter is home)
2. Enjoy a bowl of fruit for breakfast
4. Go to the bookstore and slowly browse every damn shelf
5. Read a book at a park near the river
6. Take a walk with my dog
Not a single thing listed requires that I be alone, except maybe browsing every shelf in the bookstore, but let’s be honest, I only felt that way because I’d never be able to do that with a six year old. Kids are smart and know that browsing every shelf in the bookstore is a pathetic waste of time! Also, if I’m honest, there’s no way in hell I’d spend hours doing that. I mean…come on. I love to browse for books and when I’m alone I do it for a longer period of time than when my daughter is with me, but every damn shelf? The resentment behind that phrase is palpable.
I could easily include her in any of these activities and I’m beginning to think I should.
Do I really want to raise my daughter, who may one day become a mother, to believe that she must be alone to show herself some love? Do I really want to raise her to think it’s a good idea to run herself ragged only to gift herself with a few hours of alone time? Of course not, but that’s exactly what I was doing. What I think I need to do is explain to her that sometimes we all need quiet time when we can not be bombarded with information, when we can sit quietly with Nature, or take a stroll down the street, not saying a word, but rather just observing the world around us. I need to explain why this is important and I need to model this behavior on a regular basis with my daughter. She’s only six, so she may not appreciate the importance of doing this, but the point is to plant the seed within her and to make time to refill my cup each day as well.
The fact is, my well-being is no one else’s responsibility and definitely not my child’s. My cup needs to be filled a little each day so that I don’t find myself running on empty and wanting to get away from everyone. Love is shown in small, daily acts of kindness and this is what I intend to do for myself from now on.
I deserve it.
My daughter deserves it.
You deserve it.