by Christy Sillman
I cheated on my family. It’s not exactly a secret, but I can’t help but feel like a jerk about it. I know this might be controversial but I’ve come to find that I’m not the only one who does this and if you haven’t done it, chances are you’ve at least fantasized about it. A mom’s got to do what a mom’s got to do.
The call came at 4:55 am. I was snuggled warm in my bed and the startling sound of my cell phone ring instantly put a huge smile on my face. I hope this means what I think it means.
“We’re over-staffed today Mrs. Sillman. Would you like the day off?”
I suppressed the urge to respond, “Hell frickin’ yehaw!” and simply said, “Yes, thank you, have a nice day.”
As I fell back into bed, I already began devising my diabolical plan, and the guilt was already settling in.
I was honest with my husband – I didn’t want to add that guilt on top of everything else. Even as I began to put my plan into motion, I was second-guessing my decisions.
When dropping my son off at daycare, the screams and cries that came out of him were like a dagger straight to my heart, but I turned and walked away anyway.
Freedom. Complete Freedom.
That’s right. I got the day off from work and decided to take my son to daycare anyway so that I could get some much needed “me” time.
Just the day before, my co-worker and I were divulging to each other our secret mommy-time fantasies. She described her dream of utilizing an overstaffed day by pretending to go to work but actually hitting up the movie theater for eight hours of back-to-back movie bliss. She admitted she felt guilty for even thinking of this.
Another one of my co-workers confessed that when her kids were young she would tell her husband that she needed to stay overtime for a couple of hours at work when in actuality she would go to the bars with co-workers for some happy hour fun.
I’ve done this before, on a much smaller scale, when I’ve taken the long way home from the store. I even pulled over for 15 minutes to enjoy a milkshake and some Facebook time on my phone.
Little time snacks where you just indulge yourself in selfishness.
Because let’s face it, Motherhood is devoting yourself to a lifetime of selflessness. You give your children all of yourself. Even when you’re sleeping you live in a constant state of perpetual preparedness. You have plan A, B, C in place and you’re constantly anticipating some need a child or family member might need. It’s physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting – but the rewards are immeasurable.
Have you noticed that in those TV makeover shows, it always seems that their subject is a mother who has let herself deteriorate and is stuck in 10-year-old worn out clothes that are too tight? They usually explain how they focused on their children and never allowed money or time to be devoted to themselves.
Selflessness. Pure Selflessness.
Before I was a mom, I couldn’t understand these women and why they lost themselves, but now I get that there is a guiding force that prevents these women from nourishing their sense of self – the mommy-guilt black hole.
That’s the place where you feel guilt for any self centered behavior, and I’m sure it’s a built-in mechanism of human nature so that our ancestors didn’t leave their children unattended with lions around.
On the flip side, there are many women who overindulge in selfishness, irresponsibly leaving their children for days on end to go off to Vegas and do God knows what — dang, that does sound nice.
I guess the goal is to find a balance. To provide your soul with nourishment while continuing to give your children all that they need. There is no magical equation, and every mom and family needs to figure out what they need.
I enjoyed the few hours to myself, and my co-worker even got to act upon her fantasy and escaped to one movie by herself before returning to her family, refreshed and renewed. Children will appreciate a happy mom, and a happy mom will appreciate her children more.
It really is true what the flight attendants say – you need to put your own oxygen mask on before you can help your children with theirs.