As my kids’ summer vacation comes to an end I find myself wanting to soak up every moment with them. I’ve been putting off lunch dates with friends, trying to work when they are busy doing something else and telling myself all the things I do for me, like getting my hair done or talking for hours on the phone with my best friend, can wait until they go back to school.
But it’s been catching up with me and they are noticing.
This past week I’ve been feeling guilty every time I schedule something that doesn’t involve them, so I haven’t been doing much for myself. But the other day I had a facial come up that I’d scheduled over a month ago in the middle of a day on Wednesday. I was so looking forward to it when I scheduled it but as it crept up I thought about cancelling it.
As I was leaving for some much needed pampering, I told my kids how I was going to miss them, but I’d hurry back.
Because surely, my three teenagers are lost without me and have no desire to sprawl out with their phones and snacks for the two hours I’d be gone without me hovering, right?
My daughter stopped her Glee marathon, looked up at me and said, “Oh, Mother, just go. You need to get your mood up again.”
“Getting your mood up again” is my daughters way of telling me to scram and come home a better version of myself because it was taking a toll on her too.
In that one sentence, she was telling me she noticed I’d been running on fumes. She was letting me know she could feel my moodiness and irritation that stems from not taking the time for me because I was trying so hard to be present for her and her brothers.
Judging by her tone, I think she’d had it with me. Heck, I’d had it with me. That facial was just what the doctor ordered.
It occurred to me I’d been neglecting some self-care to be there for them because I thought it was what they wanted and needed when in reality, our kids just want us to be happy, even if that happiness means we aren’t with them all the time.
Our kids would rather have parents who are smiling and feel somewhat rested than spending their days listening to their mom sigh, complain, and feel so tired that she snaps under the tiniest bit if pressure.
I’ve learned this past year, since my divorce, my kids are happy when their father and I are happy. If that means taking a girls’ trip, going for a run, or getting a facial when I could be spending the afternoon with them, so be it.
Our moods spill onto them just as their’s spill onto us. We are happier when are kids are doing well and seem adjusted, right?
Well, it’s no different for them. Our kids can sense it when we are running low on energy and on patience.
After my daughter said that to me, it made me check myself and reminded me of something I already know: we absolutely can’t show up for our kids, no matter how old they are, if we refuse to take the time to show up for ourselves.
So, take that trip, or get that manicure and do whatever you need to in order to take care of yourself sans the guilt.
If that guilt does happen to creep in or you feel undeserving (please ignore that voice, you are so deserving), do it anyway knowing in the long run your happiness is contagious and you are also doing something really awesome for your kids too.
You are the only one who can give your kids a happy mother and they will remember your joy. And I literally only had to repeat this to myself once before scheduling another facial that happens to fall on a Saturday morning—I’m already counting down the days and there’s no chance cancelling will even cross my over-booked mind.