On needing to feel desirable….

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Today is November 1 which means it’s the first day of #NaBloPoMo, a writing challenge I’ve attempted several times in the past and am hoping to be more successful at this year. It helps that I’m joined by two women who are both good friends and excellent writers. I encourage you to read their work as well!

I’ll be (mostly) following the prompts from BlogHer. Today’s prompt wasn’t all that exciting to me: When you’re having a bad day with your mental health, what do you do to help yourself?”  I’ve written about self-care before. It’s not new territory for me. I sometimes feel like I’m whining when I write about it. 

But maybe there are parts of it that are new territory.

A lot of times when I think about self-care (especially as regards my mental health), I consider it a solo activity. I like to spend time by myself. I enjoy being alone. But as a wife and mother (mostly as a mother), taking care of myself means requiring the help of other people. I need babysitters or I need my husband to be home so I can leave the house. Oddly enough, it’s frowned upon to leave a two-year-old on her own for four hours. But it’s not just my husband’s help I need. He provides so much for me and for our family. He “gets” that I need to be not-Mommy for a few hours a week in order to even adequately care for our marriage and family. It’s something I deeply appreciate and all-too-often take for granted (that’s a whoooooole other blog post).

I think I’m getting to a point where I need the rest of the world to cut me some damn slack when it comes to self-care. Okay, not the rest of *the* world, but certainly the rest of *my* world. Motherhood is a deeply sacrificial experience. Every time I turn around, I feel like I’ve given up something else, some other piece of myself, in order to be a mother. And just when I think I have nothing left to give, someone or something finds a piece of me I forgot about or didn’t know I had and that gets taken away too.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for me to be angry about that. And I swear on everything I (still) own, I will lose it if even one person tells me, “Yeah, well, you chose to become a mother!” Screw that noise. I’m well aware of the choice that I made. We should all be very aware of our choices. I think I’m angry because I’m sitting her, waiting for the moment when someone or something decides am worth sacrificing something for. I had absolutely no idea the concept of sacrifice until I became a mother. I thought I knew. I’ve given up a lot in my life. I’ve had to choose between two very difficult paths a number of times. It’s not a new concept. It’s a far deeper concept now.

So when I get asked to chip away just a little more of my time or my energy or my talent for this thing or that event or whatever it is that needs my attention, I start to ask myself, “When will I get a little in return?” Not in smiles and hugs from my daughter. Not in kisses and kind words from my husband. I get those in spades. Those are the things that keep me from lighting my own fuse and completely blowing up.

I’m waiting for the world to offer up some small gesture to show me that I matter, that my time is valuable, that my presence is desired, that my opinions count.

7 thoughts on “On needing to feel desirable….

  1. Okay, this…

    Not in smiles and hugs from my daughter. Not in kisses and kind words from my husband. I get those in spades. Those are the things that keep me from lighting my own fuse and completely blowing up.

    -The last line.

    And, this…

    I’m waiting for the world to offer up some small gesture to show me that I matter, that my time is valuable, that my presence is desired, that my opinions count.

    -For me, it’s not enough that my children give me snuggles. I’m so tired of hearing that they should be enough for me. I’m a complex person. I’m not just one thing. I am not JUST a mother, or a wife, or a woman, or whatever else someone wants me to just be in that moment. I am all of those things. I need my husband to appreciate me, my children to want to snuggle with me, and, like you said, for my presence around others and my opinions to be desired or at least heard. I need more than to be just one thing at one time. To be me, I need, and I’ll steal a line from you on this one, all the things.

    • All the things. Yes. And while this certainly isn’t solely a “mom” experience, it does become exacerbated by motherhood. I think it’s due, in large part, to essentially losing my name. Even my husband refers to me more as “mommy” than anything else. I get that this is THE biggest and most important job title I’ll ever have (probably), but it doesn’t mean I stop being all the other things I was before.

  2. Oooh this struck something in me that I am working on internally. Some of the things you wrote in here took me back to the crossroad of sacrificing – even if temporary – my career to become a mom. Specifically, the fear that I wouldn’t be respected or appreciated in the same light as someone “active in the workforce.” There is a hypocrisy that exists in our society where we boast mothers as the hardest workers, yet we don’t actually give much respect in our actions as a whole to mothers today, in my opinion.. It’s in big things like breastfeeding in public being shamed to having no paid family leave; and it’s in the little things like mom shaming and ignorance toward “what we do all day.”

    I’m still waiting on that return gesture of appreciation; and I have a feeling it may take awhile.

    • Ugh. The waiting game is maybe the worst part. I’m scared of having to re-enter the workforce at some point after having taken so much time off. The anticipatory feeling of being undervalued leaves a knot in my stomach.

      • That undervalued feeling that concerns you is where I am right now with going back into my office after 12 – 14 weeks of maternity leave. Will I be valued at my office?

  3. I totally understand and can relate to this post. As far as choosing to be a mother, that’s the biggest misconception in the world. When you choose a career you can always leave if you don’t like it, or it’s not what you expected. When you choose a mate you can also leave or end the relationship if it’s not what you expected. But when you choose to be a mother, you don’t have a clue what it means to be a mother, the sacrifice, the commitment, the never ending worrying, stressing and feeling guilty about everything you do and it’s a choice that you can’t back out of, and usually wouldn’t back out of it even if you could. Yes, you choose to be a mother, but you didn’t choose to give up everything that you are! I love that you understand that and that you value you and that you expect to be valued. I applaud you because you are honest about what you need and I wish more mothers were honest like that!

    • That’s a GREAT point that I hadn’t ever considered. Motherhood is pretty much the only choice/relationship we enter into that we can’t ever “get out of”. Nor does it ever end. It’s not like an other job that ends at 5pm and I can grab a cocktail with co-workers afterward. It’s 24/7.

      Thank you for your perspective and your comments! I really appreciate it!

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