Yesterday I did something I haven’t done in a long time – I sat on the sofa, ignored the children and read a book.
That might not seem like something to brag about. It certainly wasn’t something that impressed Keith who, at the point I rejected his suggestion that I read to the children instead of myself, called me mother of the year and suggested I write about that on my blog.
I’m not sure why he’s annoyed at the blog, but actually it was a good suggestion on his part, so all passive aggression aside, I unashamedly offer these thoughts.
I grew up with a mum who worked from sun up to sun down in her role as homemaker. She has always taken her job mighty seriously, and is very much of the view that her time, and energy, are best spent improving the life of her family, rather than her own.
I applaud her for that, and I thank her, but there is also a part of me that feels slightly uncomfortable knowing that she will run herself into the ground in my name.
I don’t ask that of any person.
A few months ago I took on a new job that is challenging me in ways I never thought possible. I love it, I’m inspired by it, but by the end of the week I am bone tired. I don’t mean a little bit sleepy, I mean that soul crushing tired that people with long term illness and women in the first trimester of pregnancy will understand. I limp through the end of the week, I drag myself over the finish line by my teeth, and needless to say, it doesn’t make me a very fun person to be around.
And even as I type this I realise that I am straying down the road of self-justification; glancing at the cul-de-sac of martyrdom because the truth is that even if my job was chief tester at Whittaker’s (just putting it out there universe) it would not mean that I should feel guilty for taking some time to relax.
My children do not require me to spend every waking moment supporting their optimal development. Choosing to do something for myself rather than them does not make me a bad mother; it makes me a sensible human.
The truth is that parents are still being guilted into thinking that they ought to invest all their energy into their family at the expense of their own wellbeing.
I offer you some context of my own weekend: In the hours leading up to the moment when I planted my butt on the sofa I had cleaned the new house top to bottom, cooked lunch and baked scones, dealt with a poorly Miss Olive and spent over an hour having a Lego build-off with the elder two.
Parenting points: I had plenty.
And none of that should matter. Part of being a Woman of Worth is to know that you deserve to have time and energy spent on yourself. There is no point sharing a hundred righteous memes on social media if the message you are giving your children is that your needs are last on the list. Balancing family life doesn’t mean you are at the bottom of the pile holding everyone up, it means you are all in it together and that you all matter equally.
So because it’s a Monday and I am feeling just a little militant I encourage you to join me in calling out this bullshit. Today, look at a pile of washing, or a toy strewned bedroom and choose instead to do something for yourself.
Do it without apology.