Homage to Motherhood

A mother of a toddler and baby reflects on the activities that are typical in her day and on the inclination mothers have not to give themselves credit for their accomplishments. She asked mothers to look at their lives from the viewpoint of others and realize that mothers deserve a little pampering or occasional time to themselves.

Between my newborn, my two-year-old, and my husband I barely have a moment to do something for myself. Like most mothers, I have lunches to pack and diapers to change, and although I bathe two others I rarely have time for a quick shower. How do we manage to survive giving so much of ourselves to others? Do we set unreasonable standards or expectations for ourselves? Are there ways to give ourselves the pampering we deserve?

Even the most loved and appreciated mothers receive too little credit. We think only of our children and husband (let’s face it, men are in essence children), acting as caregiver and emotional support to the people that mean the world to us. Even after a night with no sleep, we manage to feed everyone and keep our homes orderly and comfortable. We are able to love the baby that screams for hours, able to be kind to the child that screams and kicks. Although it sounds impossible, we gain satisfaction from experiencing these hellish parts of our day. We handle feces on a daily basis and think nothing of it. We may get frustrated from time to time, but overall we love the tasks that being a mother hands us. Fatigued and sometimes frazzled, we survive the crazy life that is motherhood, nourished by the smiles, hugs, and the occasional ‘thank-you’.

Even without time to relax, not even fifteen minutes to hop in the shower, we often expect even more of ourselves. We definitely have unreasonable expectations of ourselves. We should learn to listen to the husbands and friends telling us that it is enough, but somehow we can’t accept it. How many of us would expect another to do all that we do? Would we add another task, responsibility, or burden to someone else doing all we do? Of course not! And that is what we need to keep in mind when we are feeling guilty even as we are being told that we’re doing great. If we try to consider how we would treat another woman in our shoes we can learn to treat ourselves with the dignity of reasonable expectations. As much as we’d like to prove otherwise, we are not superwoman.

When we look at our lives and accomplishments from the viewpoint of others, it becomes clear that we have earned a little pampering. We need to give ourselves a little bit of time to rejuvenate every now and again. If we are feeling hesitant about it, we need to remember that it truly is good for the kids: not only do we come back feeling better and mothering more calmly, but it allows us to show our children that all the hard work and patience deserves rewarding. It is especially important for daughters to see us receive the treatment we deserve because they are learning now how to be a mother themselves. Even if we can only find a sitter for a couple hours it will allow us time for a shower and possibly a nap. Crazy as it sounds, grocery shopping alone can be rejuvenating. Although grocery shopping and other errands and chores should not be considered a first choice when we need alone time, it is good to know that we can treat any time we have alone as special time. Manicures and massages will remain the gold standard in pampering no matter how infrequently they occur. Perhaps that infrequency increases the value they hold for us.

As mothers we sometimes forget our own worth. We have very high stress jobs, and we work long hours. As satisfying as it can be raising children and keeping the house a home takes a toll on us. We sometimes set the bar too high for ourselves, forgetting to give ourselves the credit we deserve. There is nothing wrong with treating ourselves to a day without the kids. In fact, we often need that time to decompress so we can be the mothers we truly want our children to have.