I’d like to taste my food again. Is that too much to ask? It’s always, “You feed the baby while I eat” or “He needs to be changed now” or “Hurry up, he’ll be awake any minute.” (That last one can apply to more than just dinner.) I remember a time when I didn’t have to chew my food like a malnourished dog.
I’d like to pee in peace. Good Lord. I swear, as soon as I feel the need to pee, the baby wakes up from a nap, or puts something in his mouth that isn’t supposed to be there or the telephone rings or I’m late for work. Or, well, you know. Everything. I never realized peeing was a luxury.
Since I had my son, I have peed in various public places in less than ideal fashions: handicapped stalls while stretching my arms and body like Mark Teixeira to hold the baby on a changing table (Kudos to you if you understand baseball analogies—I will use them often); family restrooms with the stroller wheeled in front of me—big brown eyes wondering where he is and why I’m making tinkling noises at him; teeny tiny stalls with no other option than to let the baby sit on the floor. I know. Disgusting, right? But I seriously couldn’t hold it. I didn’t have the stroller. I didn’t have anyone to hold him. He’s way too mobile to chill on a changing table. And my buttons were too tight to do the whole hold-him-and-pee thing. Which you know you’ve done—don’t lie. And don’t judge me. I washed his hands off after… I think.
I’d like to sleep in, circa 2004. High school summer vacation style. Til noon. And then eat. And take a nap. Maybe watch a movie in my pajamas. And repeat the process.
I’d like to get in the car and go somewhere without an hour’s worth of prep work beforehand. Car seat. Bottles. Snacks. Diapers. Wipes. Sippy cups. High chair cover. Toys.
I’d like to be able to take some time for me.
One thing EVERY mom—work at home, work outside the home, stay at home, hybrid, whatever you call yourself—fails to do at one point or another is take care of herself. We’re busy wifing, cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, working, mommying. We wear all these figurative hats, but forget that at some point, we were individuals. We treated ourselves once in a while.
I’m not the type of person who requires much. I’m not a big shopper or spender. I don’t need my nails or hair done every two weeks. But there is one thing I do splurge on every once in a while. I love a good pedicure. So, one of the things I do for me (even though as I type this I realize I can’t remember the last time I went) is try to get regular pedicures. I sit in a chair outside of my house, soak my feet, sometimes read a book, breathe a little, and spend a half hour as Shannon. Not as Wife. Not as Teacher. Not as Mommy. Just as Shannon.
And it feels good.
If I don’t have the money or time to actually go to a spa for a pedicure, I try to recreate the atmosphere at home and give myself one. Obviously, it feels better when someone else massages my feet, but it also feels better to have that extra cash at the end of the week. If the baby is in bed, and I can spend a few minutes soaking my feet and painting my nails, I still consider that a success. It’s something I did for me.
Another “me time” item I have to address relates to my own physical wellbeing. I have always suffered from neck and back pain, and a car accident in 2010 left me with serious muscle spasms, mostly on my left side. Carrying around a 23-lb 11-month-old doesn’t help, so again, even though I’m not the greatest example of giving yourself time for you, I do attempt to get chiropractic adjustments and massages when I can. This way, I am a healthy enough “me” to be a healthy wife, teacher, and mom.
Hobbies can also help working moms tap into their individualities. But who has time for a hobby? I may not have time to attend pottery classes in the evenings, but I do have time to set up my fantasy baseball roster online after the baby goes to bed. I know it’s not every woman’s cup of tea, but I like me some MLB (totally didn’t mean for that to rhyme). Find something—no matter how small—that you are truly interested in and that does not cross over the wife and mom lines.
Some of my working mom friends scrapbook. Others take baths in the evenings to unwind. Some are furthering their education with Master’s degrees and doctorate programs. Some take their dogs to dog parks. Some work out multiple times a week.
Every woman needs something.
When it comes down it, I don’t really regret that I can’t sleep until noon on weekends because the little brown-eyed face that looks happily up at me because he’s well-rested is so, so, SO worth it. I don’t regret not being able to go to dinner and a movie every Friday night with my husband because strolls around the block are much more relaxing and are exactly how I pictured my life post-baby. But I will continue to get pedicures. And I will take the deepest breaths I’ve taken all week when I lie down for that massage. Because those little moments just for me make me a better working mom. And because, well, I deserve it. And so do you.
photo credit: massagetherapyprograms.net