I’m the mother of an incredible eighteen year old daughter who I’ve raised pretty much on my own aside from the help of dad. So being a single mom I didn’t have a partner to take over when I wanted some me time. I did, however, have a great dad who would watch Angel when I worked, went to classes and out occasionally. But being a single mom and one who had her daughter at the age of 20 let me tell you time alone was difficult! Even with a partner getting a few minutes alone to go to the bathroom can be an utter miracle or a sign of end of days…take your pick. Being a young mama though I was looked at with judgment often, especially considering based on great genetics and skin care people think at nearly 40 I look anywhere from 23-30. Other moms would give me looks like I was some product of trailer park living and had no education on birth control, abstinence or morals. Trying to fit in with the PTA moms when she was in elementary school went out the window quickly. Not just because they tended to not speak to me but because after some time of listening to them I had no desire to fit in with them.
When Angel was very little I was doing everything I could to be the ideal mom because I’d already given her a shit show of a dad that I left before she was two. I also was young and hearing the judgments of the world about how young moms were usually shitty parents. So I took Angel to library book readings and activities, metro park classes, museum classes, zoo classes. I took her to all these places and more pretty much daily and outside of college and working I made her my whole world. I didn’t go out really for over I’d say six years. Like not even for a haircut or massage and certainly not out with friends. My life was for her and if I could take her with me I did. It was the most unhealthy thing I’ve ever done and it backfired big time. Now don’t think I regretted taking her to all those activities because I didn’t. I gave her experiences my own mom never would’ve and it’s helped mold her into the compassionate, intelligent person she is. What I regret though is what I did to myself and what happened after those six years that effected us both.
After six years of making my daughter my entire world I snapped. I started going out one to two times a week which doesn’t sound like an obscene amount but let me explain why it was a problem. I was going out drinking and dancing with people I’d met through mutual friends and drinking way more then I wanted. I started “dating” again and we’ll call it dating because so much of it was hooking up with guys after a date or two I did not like and some I didn’t even go on a date with. I was hooking up with a guy for two months I couldn’t fucking stand for fucks sake! I was so lonely and desiring adult interaction, friendship, companionship that I was just giving myself over to anyone who paid me attention and doing things that really brought me no joy. In that two year period of going out like crazy I was also going through a long and just utterly damaging custody battle that’s a story for another time. I’ll just say in the five year battle he finally just walked away which is what he wanted to do all along anyway and it was the best thing he ever did for Angel. But I was living a life outside of being a mom that made me feel like a bad mom and ended with a sexual assault that’s taken me years to overcome (again a story for another day).
I didn’t get to do my early twenties like most people do and tried to make up for it in a way that didn’t make me feel any better. The problem wasn’t having a life and identity outside of my child. The problem was I waited so long to give myself that that I was lost and not filling myself up. So I stopped going out in that way and threw myself into work and her and went out very little. While my situation may be slightly different from the average mom the theme is the same. It’s the theme of putting your kids and everyone else before you! It’s what I consider an epidemic among moms and why so many mamas suffer from secret depressions, sadness, regret and so much more. As moms we tend to forgo our own needs and give some type of excuse for when we give to ourselves. How many of you mamas have gone out for a friend date and immediately told your friends your husband or partner was babysitting the kids because you’ve been doing xy and z? Probably a lot of you and when the friend date ended and you had a blast even with your secret guilt for being away promised to do it more often because it was really fun and “we really should spend more time together”. We both know though it’ll be six months to a year before you do it again and you use the excuse that life is different now and that’s ok.
I have moms come into my studio all the time that eventually drop off even though they love classes because mom is the first person to sacrifice time and attention. It’s heartbreaking to watch because you can see this amazing chick sacrificing something she really loves and is thriving with. But we over schedule our kids with sports and activities and yes ladies that needs to stop! Your child doesn’t need to do two sports a season on top of everything else you’ve got them into and it’s time to nip that in the bud. Kids need to be kids and have down time. They also need to learn an important lesson on self care and you are their first teacher. Learning to balance my time and identity as a woman with my time with my daughter and being a mom is one of the greatest lessons I’ve taught her and I know this because she’s told me. From me, she’s learned to go after what you want and that it’s important to have goals that are your own. She learned that building friendships and having hobbies that bring joy and pleasure are necessary and that self care is a priority. In fact, I’m writing this very blog sitting in a bubble bath with sexy music on and a mimosa on Christmas Day and I dint feel bad. Why? Cause I wanted some me time and guess what she’s doing? She’s painting because that’s her thing and plans to take a bubble bath later too because she feels like it. Yes she’s an adult now but this has been something after my wild child phase that she saw regularly. I give her quality time and always have but I’ve also given myself time and attention. I may not be perfect at it always but I’m a hell of a lot better then I used to be.
Having a daughter it was key to teach her to put herself first and for those that have sons it’s critical to teach them that as a woman your needs are equal to and as important as any males. That’s how we breakdown these ideas that keep women down in society. Teach your kids and your partner what you need matters and for the love of god stop apologizing for it!