Putting. On. My. Own. Air. Mask. First.

We’ve had a tough week.  We had to switch days for the little girls, which I loathe, but circumstances required that we do so.  They’ve been much more clingy, and needy, and snuggly in the past couple weeks.  We had them last night, a day we wouldn’t normally, and they were over-tired, and a little weepy, and in need of approval, and oh-s0 huggy, and at the same time were testing our limits a bit.  It’s the kind of thing with which I could get consumed.  Obsessed.  And over-analyze until I’m blue in the face.

I worked from home today so unlike regular days when I leave before there is any light in the sky, this morning my husband got to leave early, and I took the little girls to daycare.  We were able to get ready at a leisurely pace instead of at the speed of light like we normally do.

Let me paint a picture.  My oldest little girl was finishing up homework while my littlest little girl was finishing breakfast.  She hadn’t touched her juice so just after I took her empty bowl she picked up the cup of juice…and I didn’t see it but the way the juice landed ALL over the floor, and ALL over the table, and ALL over the chairs, and ALL over the walls…I have to imagine she did something creative instead of it just slipping out of her hands like she claimed it did.

How it happened is neither here nor there…I’m anal.  And controlling.  So I need you to understand how much effort it takes for me not to go ballistic in situations like this.  But I didn’t.  I spent the next FIFTEEN WHOLE MINUTES on my knees cleaning it up and thinking of the note I needed to put in my littlest little girl’s lunch so she’d know that I loved her despite the foul look I must have had on my face.

We got to daycare homework done, vitamins injested, breakfast eaten, teeth and hair brushed, rooms straightened, juice cleaned off every surface in the kitchen, even a cold lunch made for my littlest little girl (with the note!).  My oldest little girl got out of the car and shut the back door, I grabbed the little girls’ golf clubs that needed to be left and started walking towards the entrance, when I realized my littlest little girl was not getting out of the car.  Hmmm.

I went back to the car,opened the back door, and said “are you going to stay in the car?”  And my littlest little girl said “I want to stay with you.”  Oooofff.  It’s the worst feeling on earth when you’re dropping your child somewhere and they don’t want to go.  “I want to stay with you” she repeated.

I got her in the house, gave many kisses and hugs, and was on my heart-broken way.  I first called my husband, then my girlfriend Eh, to lament that the girls were just needing more love than normal.  Not lamenting that they need more love…I’m more than happy to give them as much love, attention, and adoration that they need.  Lamenting about why they might need more love.

The truth is, for the past couple weeks for whatever reason, the little girls need more of us.  Require more attention, snuggling, and affirmation.  We’ve had to step-up our game and be “on” more of the time.  We haven’t had the luxury to have an less than stellar day of parenting because they are obviously in need of top notch loving right now.

A couple years ago this is the kind of thing that would have totally consumed me.  Speculation, anger, great sadness, it all would have put me right over the edge which would have been counterproductive because it would have hindered my ability to be a great Mom.  Now, however, I recognize that in order for me to be even close to “on” all the time…I need to treat myself well.  I can’t be the Mom they need me to be unless I am the woman I need myself to be.

After my phone calls to my husband and Eh I came home and was swamped from the moment I sat down at my computer until the end of the day.  Friday reports, phone calls, putting out a mild fire, it was go, go, go all day.  Which, to be honest, was good for me.  Otherwise I would have been thinking about my littlest little girl all day.

Immediately following my whirlwind of a work day I was scheduled to have dinner with girlfriends that I’d not seen in a while.  I was running early, as was my girlfriend Ess, so we decided to head to the restaurant for an appetizer and some wine.  A full hour before our other girlfriends were to arrive.  Let me share something with you…an hour to waste in a cozy restaurant with fireplaces and wine rack, after wine rack, after wine rack…probably a bad idea if the hope is to leave dinner and get anything worthwhile accomplished.

We met at five, our other girlfriends joined us at six, we ate, drank wine, laughed out loud (perhaps too loud?), and had great conversation.  I left the restaurant at 10pm…it was a five hour dinner with girlfriends.  And wine.  It was so much fun and I honestly could have stayed there for several more hours…if not for the incessant yawning and the desire to lay my head down on the table to sleep.

So here’s the thing…and the point…which perhaps it’s taken me too long to get to (I blame the wine).  If my little girls need more of me, if they need me to be on top of my game, if they need me to be their rock, then I have no choice but to be that way across the board.  And THAT means having the opportunity to be with my girlfriends and drink wine.  It means going to the gym so I feel good.  It means saying out loud all the things I want to be true and proceeding to make them so.  It means making sure my husband and I are in a really good place and are on the same page.  Because without all of those things I can’t be the Mom that my little girls deserve, need, and are longing for.

It’s like when you’re flying and the flight attendants tell you to put on your own air mask first.  I have to be in a good place myself to provide a good place for the little girls.

TODAY:  What if in order to be the best Mom I can be I also need to be the best version of myself?  What if I need to cater to my own needs so that I can better serve the needs of my little girls?

12 thoughts on “Putting. On. My. Own. Air. Mask. First.

  1. Are you kidding me? I read this blog and wept for your children. No darling, FULL TIME moms are allowed to take the time away from thier children in order to nurture themselves. Your babies cry to be with you and you sent them off to daycare and then spent all evening hanging with your friends. Shame on you! And then try to excuse your conduct !

    1. Ooofff…Rhonda. First comment to make me cry. And I’d actually agree with you if not for two points. First, I would have killed to scoop up my little girls and keep them home yesterday but they had school. They take the bus to school in the morning from daycare because all four parents’ work days begin earlier than does the elementary school day. Yesterday I dropped them about 15 minutes before their bus was to arrive to bring them to school. Second, due to our custody agreement, we have our little girls Mondays and Tuesdays, and every other Friday through Sunday. This isn’t our weekend. When we have them we very rarely ever get a sitter unless we absolutely have to. If we’d had them this weekend I would have been waiting for them at the bus stop as I am every Monday, Tuesday, and every other Friday. I’d never choose girlfriends over my little girls…not ever not once. Thanks for your comment…it might have been warranted if I’d left them at daycare for the day and then gone out drinking while they sat at home but that simply isn’t what happened.

      1. One more thing. We may have our little girls with us only 50% of the time (which I’ve mentioned time and time again makes our together time all the more precious) but I would never consider myself a half-time Mom.

  2. Just because the kids are only physically with you half the time doesn’t mean you are not a full time mom and there is nothing wrong with taking time for yourself if you need it. And what is a FULL TIME mom anyways? I have 2 kids and I work does that make me part time? Ridiculous comment from Rhonda.

  3. I think Rhonda is missing large parts of this story, making ignorant judgments. The children were with their other mother. You are allowed to live your life when they are with there other parents. What’s with the hating on bonus moms??? This ain’t haterville!!!

  4. Rhonda. No. This writer also happens to be my sister. Older than me by 15 years. She was and still is a huge mentor in my life. She was/is invested in my life and did what she could to guide me towards solid life choices and help me grow into the person I am today. I can recall many times when she took time out of her busy schedule to sit with me and talk out problems, and took lots of time to just spend time with me and help me grow, whether it was taking me out for ice cream if I had a bad day or just wasting time and driving around for a while. While that doesn’t happen as often now, due to both of us working full time jobs and general life happenings, I know if I were to call her with a problem or needing advice at any time of the day, that she would be on the phone with me until the problem was solved. She is FULLY invested in the little girls. I know for a fact that she would NEVER leave them with a sitter for a night out, Or send them to daycare if she didn’t absolutely have to. When I first started writing this, I immediately wanted to swear my head off and type in all capital letters, defending a close family member, you know? …But I didnt. I do urge you to please re-read this, as well as the rest of the blog, and you will see that my sister does everything she can for the girls. I would know, she did the same for me.

  5. Wow! I’m kind of astounded that someone can respond to such open & heartfelt posts with such anger. You get what you give in this world. You spew hatred, you receive ill will & live unhappily. What you did by sending that energy to TYOWI is merely provide an opportunity for everyone else to remind her how wonderful & caring she really is, and for you to receive back the harsh criticism that you put out into the universe. I think people who are hurting behave that way, so I hope you find some peace.

  6. I think that Rhonda may be reacting to something going in her life and using this blog as an outlet. I know that “full time” parenting is just that…..full time. The only parent that could be regarded as part time would be an individual who doesn’t put their children before their own….how do I say this gently?…..desires…..NOT requirements. I agree with what the writer has to say in this blog post, but can see how Rhonda can feel a little lost. It’s incredibly hard for anyone, let alone parents of any shape and size, to find a reasonable amount of time in their lives for themselves to regroup and charge up.

    I would like to recommend that Rhonda take this blog post to her family and see what their reaction is. She may be surprised with the reaction. Her husband may see that she needs to have a nice dinner out with her friends. She may see that her children respect the amount of time she spends with them and would love to reward her with weekend away. You never know. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

    It’s incredibly easy nowadays to focus on your own problems and neglect other people positions in life. The writer is incredibly brave with posting her daily lessons in a way that Rhonda can react to so strongly to. But stay strong writer….and readers of “The Year of What If”! Rhonda wont be the last reader to react so quickly. We shouldn’t bash Rhonda. We should find a way to reach out to her in a way that helps her year become as great as it can. Take the good as just that..good. Analyse the bad so that it turns to good.

    Rhonda….this is my first “reply” to this blog, even though i read it on a daily basis. PLEASE continue to leave replies to posts that you feel strongly about. It has spun a lot of people up in a positive way. And remember….we’re all here to help to make this year….”The Year of What if”!

      1. Keep it up readers AND writer! Lets all stay focused on the good things in life and help others get to where we are. Use this entertaining and well written blog as a positive force. We all have moments of anger and frustration in our lives and it is way to easy to fall into that downward spiral.

        I’m proud of you writer, for providing all of us a glimpse into your daily strategy. Keep up the great work.

        I’m also proud of your Rhonda. Which may be hard for some to hear. Writing the feelings that you had at that moment, in a way that complete strangers could react to, is crazy brave! Keep it up! It made this blog even richer than it was before. Hopefully you are still reading this blog and can grab onto a useful strategy to make tomorrow a better day than today.

  7. Rhonda-

    1) Almost every parent dropping their children off at kindergarten, daycare, camp, etc experiences them crying to be “with you, Mommy, be with you, Daddy” HOWEVER…every parent, at some point, has to make the decision to simply leave…not because they “want” to…because they HAVE to…for their child’s sake. Children do not get to dictate who/what/when…they ahve to leave the nest and occasioally, they ahve to be thrust forth into various situations int he world that, as parents, we wuold ather they don’t…in the writer of this post’s situation, she was not given a choice. She was merely iterating that a) child wanted to stay with Mom b) child had to be dropped off anyway and c) said Mother felt terrible about it…this shows that she is a) a good Mother and b) a responsible Mother.

    2) Parents, especially those in shared parenting agreements, MOST especially those wiothout biological rights (read: step parents) are placed into these situations far more often than not. They are “Mom” 100% of the time but only have a say 50% of it. This is far, far more difficult than anyone not in such a position can imagine. I know as I too am in one. When my children want to stay “home” with me, when they have cried about it…I have had to tell them “no”, though my heart is screaming “yes”…this is not a choice. It is a reality.

    I realize this is chiming in a few days late, but I simple had to…not to bash, but more to support and inform. The old saying of “walking in someone else’s shoes” applies quite well here…in this case, they belong to a fabulous Mother who does the absolute best possible…and then some…in what is often an impossible situation. In heels. With a smile. If she chooses to unwind with a girlfriend after this walk…good for her.

    In her spirit, what IF we tried on a few more pairs of shoes before we comment on the wearer?

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