On Letting Yourself Go

February 16, 2011 at 7:11 am 21 comments

I always heard about how moms let themselves go when they have kids. How they can’t seem to find the time to do things for themselves. You see it on What Not To Wear all the time. “I didn’t think about myself after I had kids. It was all about my kids. That’s why my jeans are 12 years old and my shoes have holes in the soles.”

Or maybe it isn’t clothes related at all. You’ve heard about the mom that never loses the baby weight because she drives thru McDonald’s on the way home from work every night. Frozen pizza is a much quicker option for her than a true home cooked meal.

And what’s the excuse? “I’m a mom! I work fulltime and I am also a fulltime mother. I don’t have time to cook! I can hardly keep up with laundry.” It just becomes instinctive for women to say, “I’m a mother. I don’t have time for myself.”

Please don’t hear what I’m not saying, y’all. I am NOT saying that we should be able to keep up with everything. But let me just say this: The “I don’t have time for myself” business? That is not entirely true.

I’d like to clear up any confusion. It’s not that moms don’t have time to do things for themselves, it’s that we choose other things. Yes I need to tend to my fingernails, shave my legs, write a decent blog post, and cook a well balanced meal. I need to vacuum my house and scrub my floors. I need to meal plan and cut some coupons. But, you know what? If I have a spare hour of time that isn’t spoken for, chances are I’m going to sleep or watch some television that makes me laugh.

We’ve been through my schedule before, right? Eight hours are spent at work, an additional hour and a half is spent on the commute. An hour is spent on getting ready in the morning. Three to four hours are spent pumping. Then there are bottles to wash, a baby to bathe, bills to pay, laundry to hang, etc. Sometime in there I feed myself and my husband and give my baby some love.

If we’re going to be completely honest, there is free time in there. I’m sure I could sit my baby down in his Bumbo with some toys while I load the dishwasher. But I don’t want to. I’m away from my baby all day so the moments I have with him at home are very valuable to me.

So excuse me if I don’t invite you over. It’s not personal. It’s just that my house is a disaster and I don’t want your judgement. (Even if you say you won’t judge me, you will. I judge me.) And I’m sorry if you invite me to dinner and I bring Jansen along. I emotionally cannot leave him any longer than absolutely necessary. And, unless you are also a working mother, I do not expect you to understand that, I just expect you to accept it.

Being a mom is hard. Being a working mom is harder. I know that being a stay at home mom is difficult work too, but it’s different. You will never know the pain of leaving your child in someone else’s care every single day. You will never know the frustration of knowing that you may miss your child’s first crawl, first word, first step.

And while it’s hard, it is so very worth it. I am blessed beyond measure and I will never take my life for granted. I have a beautiful baby boy. I have a husband and together we have the money to provide a home and food and life for our little family. Even if that food is purchased in the frozen food section and the house has dog hair tumbleweeds.

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Entry filed under: Chelsea, Jansen, Parenting. Tags: , .

Ten on Tuesday (67) Sweetness

21 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lindsey Rowland  |  February 16, 2011 at 7:42 am

    I used to keep up with myself when I was working full time and had Daniel. I pretty much had to being a hairstylist. But then I quit and now I have 3 and yes they always come before me and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I was blessed to become a stay at home mother and like you said unless you have worked full time and had to leave your child you have no clue how it feels and it is very very painful. I love being a mom, it is my life long dream…… being a perfect house keeper has never been a dream of mine so not living that one out doesn’t bother me so much.
    You little man is so cute and getting to be so big!

  • 2. Southern Gal  |  February 16, 2011 at 8:01 am

    I understand. I worked for 18 months after Rebekah was born. My mom kept her for me. She was only 5 minutes down the road so I would go over at lunch and nurse Rebekah and eat something while holding her. When I look back I don’t know how I did what I did for that long. You’re right though. It’s our choices. What’s more important in the whole scheme of things. Find out what it is and do that. These seasons are so fleeting. It will be time to figure out who picks him up from school before you know it. (Oh, and my favorite friends are the ones whose homes are messy. It makes me feel like I’m at home!)

  • 3. April  |  February 16, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Even though you just hit send and I’m on my phone so it’s difficult to comment, I feel compelled to do so. My first son is 3, and my second turns 6 months in 2 days and I’m almost embarrassed to say that I didn’t grasp this concept until very recently. I always was the one who did it all – house, clean. Meals -planned. Laundry done, 50 hours of work a week, 2 dogs … Ad nauseum. It’s only recently with the addition of added stress of my mom’s cancer and an entire household of sick people that I broke and stopped tring to do it all … And it’s amazing how much better my stress level had gotten, immediately. Last weekend, with a disastrous house I set up camp on my front lawn with a book and my children and just played. We went to the playground. I stopped worrying about it. I’m free!

    I did add a couple things in, like making baby food, but the stress still isn’t there.

    So do what you need to do, and take those few moments that you have to yourself and do what makes you happy. Everything else will come along.

    Oh, and if you do occasionally invite people over, it will prompt you to pick up the house. That’s what I’m waiting for.

    Also, I took my 3yo everywhere when he was a baby; we actually still take him everywhere. This includes friends’ houses for late night parties and all restaurants. Since he grew up doing it, he’s great at sleeping pretty much anywhere and through anything including drunk 20-somethings and loud music, and he knows how to behave in restaurants. So I always encourage bringing the kids -they’ve got to be trained somehow.

  • 4. Abby  |  February 16, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Amen and Amen. I could identify with this entire post. I feel the same way! And I’m not admitting that I got dinner from the drive thru last night after picking Adalyn up from the sitter so that I could eat nurse and get back to work for a 7pm meeting. Or that I complain that I still can’t fit I to my smaller maternity clothes yet

  • 5. Nora  |  February 16, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I personally love it when my friends bring their babies and children to dinner or lunch or whatever our social plans are.

    And also, as odd as this sounds, I totally get this because dating a guy with two kids? Means that I’m in a bit of a “bonus mom” position half the time. And kids take up a lot of time; good time, it’s So worth it, but it definitely changes things. But in a good way. No idea if I’m making sense and I’m not comparing having two toddlers in my presence 50% of the time to having a baby full time, but in some way, I can relate. And I wouldn’t trade time with those girls for the world!

  • 6. Taryn  |  February 16, 2011 at 9:40 am

    really funny article…. I have a copy of it on my office door 🙂

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/22/AR2007052201554.html

  • 7. mom (nana)  |  February 16, 2011 at 10:16 am

    “Cleaning and washing can wait till tomorrow cause babies grow up we’ve learned to our sorrow….”
    Enjoy your baby boy (AND HUSBAND)….it is the most important part of your life. Yes, your stress level might go down if your house was clean but it WILL get dirty again really soon and the stress level goes right back up. How do you eliminate that??? You don’t – but hire a cleaning service if that will help!
    And I can’t relate, as I didn’t have to leave my babies but I do know how this hurts you and because it hurts you, it hurts me. Very grateful I get to participate in Jansen’s “child care” duties though!

  • 8. Tabaitha  |  February 16, 2011 at 10:16 am

    So true. While I’m a SAHM now, when my first was born, I was still working. I remember sobbing in the shower the first day I returned to work. I wish I could say it got easier for me, but it didn’t and it wasn’t. This last weekend we took an anniversary trip, the first since the kids were born (because we lived 1500 miles from our family), and while we enjoyed every minute of it, our minds still wondered back to the kids and we couldn’t wait to hold them after 2 days away.

  • 9. Natasha  |  February 16, 2011 at 10:36 am

    I really like this article because my mom was like that. She did a lot more things for me and my siblings instead of doing for herself, plus she worked full time and she rarely complained about it. I think I may be the type of mother that will choose to be this way because I already love my children, even though they’re not here yet.

  • 10. Lauren from Texas  |  February 16, 2011 at 10:37 am

    My house has dog hair tumbleweeds and I don’t have a baby. You are doing an AMAZING job and I am so proud of you. I love you.

  • 11. Lesley  |  February 16, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    hehe. I can relate to this post and yes it is a choice we make to ‘let ourselves go’ if that is what people call it. I choose to make my child the #1 priority in my life and want to spend as much time with him as possible. the house cleaning can wait. One of my favorite quotes…. The days are long but the years go by fast.

  • 12. Cousin Kim  |  February 16, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Ohhhh boy do I know about those dog hair tumbleweeds. :o) “Yucky-yucko” – as Sophie would say.

  • 13. Laurie S.  |  February 16, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    I’ve seen it from both sides and the bottom line is— They are only babies once. You only get one chance at whatever stage they are at – and it flies by. I know. One of mine is a teenager. So let the dishes go undone and let the dog hair tumbleweeds roll, sister.

  • 14. Rachel  |  February 16, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Great post Chel!

  • 15. John  |  February 16, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Three cheers to you for this post. I can’t stand it when people say that they “didn’t have the time” to do something. It’s just that they choose to utilize their time in some other way. In fact I wrote a post on this over on sojoanco a while back (in fact, I started the post by linking to Roots and Rings!): http://sojoandco.com/2009/10/05/weve-been-meaning-to-post-but-we-havent-had-time/

  • 16. Ann Z  |  February 16, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Sing it, sister. I will say that it got a bit easier with my first. I got to a point where there was time for more once Zoe got to the age that she could “help.” She loves baking, and so do I, so all of a sudden, we have a lot of homemade bread because that’s something we can do together that feels like it’s something for me. (The kitchen is even more of a mess because of it, but at least it smells awesome). Now that I have a second daughter and am back in the infant stage, though, I’m back to things not getting done, but I have faith that we’ll get to the point again where there will be time for me again.

  • 17. Mama Fuss  |  February 16, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    You know that hour that you spend getting ready in the morning? I don’t get/take that. I’m a SAHM of 2 and when I talk about letting myself go, I think about how my current beauty regimen involves taking a shower, putting on clean underwear and straightening my bangs. It used to be that every day started with full make up, you wouldn’t catch me dead in shorts and a t-shirt and I didn’t own sandals. (I still don’t own flip flops, but that has more to do with the fact that I hate the things between my toes) Most of the time my shower involves one or more of my children either coming in with me (a faster way to bathe a toddler!) or screaming at me in the bathroom for putting them down in their seat.

    I cannot imagine how a WOHM keeps her house clean, except that maybe no one is home long enough to mess it much? But I remember that there used to be plenty of time to mess it up, but not enough time to clean. I can barely keep my house clean now, when I’m home the 10 hours a day that I used to spend commuting to/at the office. Trust me, I’m not judging! (not that you’re inviting me over)

  • 18. That Married Couple  |  February 16, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Oh Chelsea, you’re doing great! Loving on baby and hubby should definitely take priority.

  • 19. Debbie  |  February 16, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    I love, love, love this. Everything was so poignant and true. SAHMs definitely have a terribly hard job, but, working Moms a lot of times don’t get the credit they deserve. I’m working and have to leave my sweet 2 year old every day. It’s never gotten easy to do, but, I’m thankful that I can contribute to our family’s financial situation and make it a little easier for all of us to think about taking a family vacation every now and then and plan for our kids’ future education. Kudos to you, you’re doing an incredibly fantastic job. It’s definitely not easy. For the record, I haven’t gotten my hair cut in almost a year. My split ends are screaming for my hairdresser, but, by the end of the day – I’m pooped and on weekends, I like to hang out with Jacob and my hubster and play. All the “attention to detail” stuff can wait a little bit. Family is #1. 🙂

  • 20. Lisa of Lisa's Yarns  |  February 17, 2011 at 4:12 am

    I also love it when my friends bring their babies with them when I invite them over. I’d be bummed if they left their baby at home honestly!

    You and Steven are doing a great job!!

  • 21. Marlena  |  February 23, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    I love love LOVE your honesty. And truthfully, if anyone judges you it’s out of immaturity and ignorance. I’m going to be 28 this year and plan to make babies in the not too distant future. Everyone I know is already a mother (with few exceptions) and I LOVE just seeing their kiddos – I could give a crap about their piled up laundry or dog hair. I believe you get to a point in your mid / late 20s (it’s scary to type that…) where you begin to appreciate your current place in life & I think you start to care less about stressing so much over trivial things. The other day brand new friends invited us over to their new house after we’d been at this event together (we barely know these people – really just bonded that one night) to meet their dogs and see the new place. I LOVED that I saw her bra on the doorknob in their room and random things strewn about. To me it meant she was comfortable enough to be herself – and THAT means much more to me than a clean house. So much more.

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