The last 16 months have been a whirlwind for me and my family. The addition of our little miracle baby has been welcomed but so chaotic and full of changes. Before Bam Bam (that’s what we call him), my husband and I were raising a 13 year old who was self-sufficient. He could make his own food, iron and pick out his own clothes, and carried his IPod Touch around like it was a cochlear implant. Motherhood and parenthood for that matter was very different.
I have always been an advocate of mothers and stepmothers taking time to indulge in a bit of self-care. It is so important to not completely devote yourself to being a mother or a stepmother in order to be a good mother or stepmother. I’ve received angry emails from readers stating that I was wrong for telling stepmothers to assign ownership of certain responsibilities to their rightful owners and use that down time for themselves. I told them that it is completely okay, natural and healthy to tell their spouse that they will not be responsible for their stepchildren every single time they come to visit. Instead, I told them to use that time to take a nap, have a girl’s night, get a hobby or do all of the above. This advice is especially true for the stepmothers who have kids of their own and can never seem to get a moment of down time.
Well, for the past 16 months this has never been more true and apparent to me. A woman cannot soley focus on her children and/or stepchildren and husband without: 1) losing a huge piece of herself and/or 2) going insane. She needs time to de-stress, regroup and recharge in order to be a good mom/stepmom and wife. There’s just no way around it and women should not feel guilty for demanding to recharge her batteries. During the first year of my son’s life as I operated on maybe two hours worth of sleep, little food and no energy, my husband, friends, family, pastor and other new or renewed moms would tell me to take time for myself. They almost begged me to step away from my sweet little angel so that I could recharge. Because he was a preemie and is still experiencing health issues as a result, I didn’t want to leave him with ANYONE. But, this meant that I was with him all of the time and it just wasn’t healthy for either of us. Thank God for my wonderful husband who took time off of work to not only take care of us but to remind me what I have been advocating for the past several years – “me” time! When I wouldn’t budge, he started arranging girl’s night outs for me. He called a few of my friends, made reservations at one of my favorite restaurants, made reservations at a spa for all of us and paid for everything. Once he did that a few times, it became a habit and now I look forward to spending time away from my angel. I have even revisited my love of photography and look forward to the moments I get to use that creative outlet. I need it in order to be the best mommy I can be to my children and you moms/stepmoms need it too. So take a little time to indulge in regular self-care and do so without guilt. Your entire family will be better as a result.