Parenting, a Little Self Care goes a Long Way
I remember the feeling.
The guilt sitting in my stomach when I had to drop my daughter off at daycare so that I could get some work done. Her eyes brimming with tears as she clutched my leg. Every single bone in my body exuding regret. Second-guessing how important work actually was.
But every time I picked her up, there she was, glistening eyes and a beaming smile, excited to see me. When asked, the daycare provider always said that she only cried those first few minutes and then went off happily playing. Those few hours of separation didn't harm her, and I came back feeling refreshed and accomplished.
There were other times too. I can genuinely recall tossing around excuses to tell the babysitter on the evening of a social event just so that I could stay home with my daughter. Wondering if pretending to feel sick last minute was a viable excuse.
Once I was out it wasn't long before I forgot her sweet smile and attempted to stumble through the process of being just me again. Not a provider of love, nurture, and endless snacks, but a living, breathing, human being who only had to care for herself.
I soon realized that those moments apart blossomed my relationship with my daughter. Those precious few hours that my husband and I could spend uninterrupted time together became an achievable goal.
With each outing, I began to remember who I was as an individual. I began to remember how to speak in full sentences and how to hold up a normal conversation. With time, I realized that it was normal to want go out on a childless dinner every once and a while. I realized that brunch with my girlfriends was fun, and didn't make me a bad mother; in fact, taking care of myself made me a good mother, dare I say- a great mother.
I've learned it's okay to occasionally leave Gaia with babysitters for non-date related or work-related reasons as well- to get my hair done, to run a race, to climb a mountain.
I would be lying if I said I don't still feel a tug of guilt when walking away, but I always come back with my heart full. It is important to remember that before we became parents, we were individuals.
I would like to say it gets easier, but I struggle with this concept of self care to this day. Gaia is older now, and her immediate need for me has greatly lessened, but with her dad working away, I harbor extra guilt when dropping her off somewhere. We have our battles to fight for a whole new set of reasons, but I know deep down, that I care best for her once I've cared for myself. And let's be honest, most of the time she is happy to go to her friends or her grandparents. The guilt is an unnecessary monster that I build up inside of me.
Please, let this be a gentle reminder to not shy away. Let's use our resources. Don't be scared to reach out to family and friends. That time with Grandma and Grandpa, Dad, Auntie, Uncle, their favourite babysitter, becomes an irreplaceable memory that both parties hold on to forever. They say it takes a village to raise a child and I wholeheartedly agree.
So go ahead, take a day for yourself.