I love being a mom. I was always that girl that loved to play with the kids, wanted to hold the new baby and felt a sense of awe when they held my finger even though I knew it was just a reflex.
But I also love having time to myself. I am a better mother and wife and sister when I am not with my daughter for a while. I used to feel guilty about that, because what kind of ‘good’ mother doesn’t want to be with her child all the time?
In the first year, despite the sleep deprivation and exhaustion, I was fulfilled being more a mama than anything else. Aiyla ran my life and I was enamored with every part of it. But then she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Guilt about whether or not it was our fault (since my husband and I have both had Type 1 for over 20 years) engulfed me. Don’t get me wrong, motherhood is still an amazing and wonderful thing. But now, there’s more than just the normal ‘pain’ of taking your kid in for vaccinations, or dentist appointments they bawl through, or making them go to sleep because they are obviously tired (why don’t you little people ever just eat and sleep when you’re tired and hungry?!!!?!?!?) Now, there is a constant nagging about the decisions I make like when and how much to feed her, let her play, or nap or exactly how much insulin to give her and how to time it perfectly. Because messing up could literally kill her. If my third trimester exhaustion overtakes me when I absolutely have to wake up and test her in the middle of the night because she could be running low, she could have a hypoglycemic reaction and die. The few times that I have let myself nap with her during the day, my husband has had to wake her up and feed her because she went low.
The point is, I need a break. I need time to leave Aiyla in the care of her father who knows how to take care of her just as well as I do (he can kind of be the bad cop when it comes to giving her shots). I need to go for dates with my sisters. Coffee talks with my father. Cross country business trips where I can actually concentrate and get work done. A chance to go to the bookstore and peruse the section without pictures in the books! Last week, I had the most wonderful day ever. Aiyla and I snuggled in the morning, had breakfast together, went to the park and played with chalk before my mom came to watch Aiyla and I got to get on a call to check-in with Kate before doing some much needed work. Then later that evening I got to go out for a sister’s date and Daddy handled bedtime. I didn’t feel stressed to keep her entertained while I tried to get some work done, I didn’t feel bad for not making more time to actually have a real conversation with my husband, or like there were a million things I forgot to talk to my sister about. I felt balanced.
Even if you don’t have a child that requires special attention, you need time to still be yourself. Because being a mother doesn’t mean you’re only a mother now. I may not go to all the mommy and me classes out there, I don’t know every single park in a 10 mile radius, or have playdates every week or any of that stuff ‘good’ moms are supposed to do. But I love my daughter with all my heart and I love that she is growing up seeing that both mama and daddy are working, that both mama and daddy cook (even if my meals are way better than his Costco fish warmed up), both mama and daddy clean, and both of them also take time to do things for themselves like play hockey or go to yoga or cuddle up with a good book. I want her to know that there is more to me than just being her mama, and that it’s ok for her to want to be more than one thing as well.
Those days of feeling balanced are rare, and I do not have it all together. I'm preaching what I don't practice because most days I feel like I'm not doing a good job at any of it. I'm absent-mindedly playing with Aiyla while trying to type up a work email on my phone and simultaneously cook dinner. Or zoning out on my husband while bathing my daughter and making a list of groceries we need because I am not coming home without the tomatoes I need for that damn recipe I keep meaning to make again. But, maybe typing it out will make me more accountable to myself, because I really need to start another good book to escape from this potty training hell.