Selfishness: How it serves my family and makes me a stronger woman.
(December 2016 Denver Metro Mom's Blog)
I have a post-it note on my refrigerator right now that says “Stop Apologizing.”
I wrote it pre-baby and have carried this reminder in some format much of my adult life. I was the girl who apologized when someone ran into me and the one that prefaced everything I said in hopes of preventing someone’s feelings from getting hurt. It was incredibly obnoxious, even to me, and something I’d always struggled with… until I had my son. Enter Bankston and all of a sudden I no longer felt ‘in the way’ or so overly conscious of what everyone else was thinking or feeling. I was no longer fighting for my best interests because “me” was now “us.”
They say motherhood is the ultimate selflessness…And it is, in so many ways, but it’s also a kind of self-ISH-ness.
The fusion between you and baby doesn’t end when you give birth, in a lot of ways, it’s made stronger. I guess it depends on how you look at it. Yes, you make decisions based on what is best for someone/something else, which is pretty much the definition of self-less-ness, but is it not true that these decisions we make for our babies are also for our personal well-being, our greater good? As I said above, I’ve never been really strong in the self-advocacy department, for fear of placing my needs ahead of someone else’s, but if I can reframe things to recognize that by advocating for myself, I’m advocating for my son… then this superhuman kind of Mom strength swells inside me as I confidently charge into situations focused on what’s best for my family.
I hesitated briefly the other day when I went to text a woman I recently met regarding some baby scheduling advice (she has two children raised by the same approach as I’ve chosen for mine. YAY!). The thoughts that initially flooded my head were ‘pre-momma Mollie’ thoughts, like “if you text her anything more than a yes/no question, then you’re going to annoy her” and “it’s late, you’re going to interrupt family time.” I’ll admit, even a couple thoughts of “she’s going to think you’re needy” crept in. It took me a second before I laughed and shook my head, recognizing how stupid I was being, because, first of all, as a fellow woman-warrior, she is FULLY capable of saying “doing family stuff right now, I’ll get back with you later” or even to shrug it off and say “you should probably ask your doctor.” Second, and more importantly, was I seriously willing to sit up exasperated with my sweet, dry, fed, and wide-eyed little boy at 2am while he bawls in his crib, just because I’m afraid of stepping on toes or looking needy? No. Friggin. Way. So, text away I did and I was met with the most thorough and loving responses. Plural. She took ample time, as so many women who share this journey of motherhood do, to impart her wisdom, experience, and advice. Not only willingly, but lovingly. Momfidence for the WIN. The following day I had ammo, as I charged into my day with Bankston joyfully and ready to try out some new techniques.
I reached out because I recognized that the “last call” partying that was developing with my son was a detriment not only to me but to him, and doing what’s best for him will always silence the stupid fears and insecurities in my head.
Spreading our family’s energy too thin is another constant challenge and as the holidays approach, this gets real tough, real fast. Invitations flood in for company and church gatherings, as well as the local events that make our Denver winters so incredible. (Note that I haven’t even mentioned the circus that becomes some family get-togethers around the holidays.) My job as Mom is to constantly balance the scales for what is best for the heart of my family and sometimes this means it’s the hard job of sending “regrets” in place of false excitement, exhaustion, a jam-packed calendar, and the inevitable resolution to “slow down” in the new year. It’s so clear to me that recognizing and acting on what’s best for my family ends up benefiting everyone involved. My children will remember holidays as a time for family, rather than babysitters and disrupted schedules. Hosts will get full versions of us at the events we prioritize and in the meantime, we are able to cherish the ever-fleeting time we’re given with our children while they’re young. Isn’t this the ‘reason for the season?’