Dear Ms. Plaid:
I am stressed out! I work a full-time job, I have 3 children who are school aged and who are all involved in extracurricular activities, and a husband who I know I need to spend more time with. However, even though I know I need to spend some more quality time with my husband (we usually are just passing by each other on the way to and from kid activities), all I feel like doing is running away and never coming back. I feel like I have lost all sense of myself, and if there is ever any extra time to be spent, I don’t want to spend it with anyone, even my own family. I want to be alone. Of course, I love my children and husband more than anything and I don’t want to jeopardize my marriage, but I need some space. Am I being selfish?
– A Stressed Out Wife and Mom
Hello Stressed Out Wife and Mom,
First, I want you to know that you are not alone in your feelings. I have had many conversations with women over the years who are in the same season of life that you are currently in, and they have all shared your exact sentiments. When did we all subscribe to this “super woman” mentality?
It is not selfish to want to have some space to breath that does not include homework, getting snacks ready for the game, or quite frankly, even intimate moments with your husband. You are a woman first before you are a wife or mother, and we all need to make sure we take time to exist without any other definitions other than being our own selves.
I have had many women tell me that they can’t remember what they used to enjoy as a hobby before they had a family, and I find that terribly sad. There is a notion in our society that somehow when we become wives and mothers, that our previous self needs to take a back seat to a new way of life. Does life change when we get married or have kids? Absolutely! But is it possible to still maintain our sense of self and continue growing as a person apart from our family relationships? Definitely!
First say this statement out loud: It is not selfish for me to take time for self care.
Now, say it again and again. Believe it this time.
Spend some time thinking about what you used to enjoy before you were married and had kids. Did you play a sport? Did you dance? Did you like to travel or take cooking classes? Are you allowing yourself time with your girlfriends (we all need our girlfriends, am I right??!!)? Maybe go away for a weekend by yourself to do nothing. Take a walk. Get a massage. Maybe read that book you have been meaning to the last few months. Whatever it is, make sure it is about you and no one else. I can promise you that if you allow yourself to get over the feeling of guilt and schedule some time for yourself to get back to doing some things that you love, you will have better mental clarity and more patience when you interact with your husband and children.
We have all heard the saying “ You can’t draw water from an empty well”…..remember, YOU are that well. You give to your family; but you have to be sure you don’t deplete the water source so much that there is nothing left to give.
All the best,