I was rushing down the broiling sidewalk, my feet slapping against the pavement. I checked my watch. Seven minutes to go until the school bus let them off outside my neighbor’s house. I prayed I would make it and wondered again why I hadn’t taken up the offer of a lift to my doorstep. The sweat was starting to pool on my scalp and I could feel the flush on my cheeks.
I should’ve asked my ride to talk me to the door, I thought again. They shouldn’t have to wait for me.
I got to my neighbor’s house and my girls were nowhere to be seen. I was just knocking on her door when their bus pulled up outside.
I hurried back to the sidewalk and stood with my arms open as they raced into them, squeeling and talking at once.
They were home. I made it. My heart was pounding with nervous energy but I made it.
This is the price of my exercise.
It took a week for me to realize that there was something wrong with that picture. Not my daughter joy at seeing me. They should always be so happy to greet their mother. But at my fear of being late.
My girls had a safe place to go with my neighbor, who was happy to have them. They basically like playing at her home. If they were happy and safe, what would it matter if I was five or even ten minutes late? I set up the arrangement with my neighbor to cover the times when the traffic is bad and my ride take longer.
The week before I’d been half an hour late and I’d been totally calm. The difference is that bad traffic is out of our control, but my getting out of the car early to walk down the hill is not. Fifteen minutes brisk walk is exercise I need after a day in an office. But it felt illegitimate. Like I wasn’t allowed to choose my needs of my children’s. They would prefer if I was always waiting for them at the bus. If I’m not, then they don’t mind to go to the neighbor.
Why can it be so hard for mothers to put themselves first?
Why was it so hard to for me to let my kids take the perfectly acceptable second choice option?
I know that it’s important for mother’s to take a break and take care of themselves. It said so in What to expect when you’re expecting. I take vitamins. I eat well. I try to get plenty of sleep. I buy myself clothes when I need them.
But none of that is the same as saying, ‘Sometimes what I need is more important than what my children need.’
I don’t need to give myself things because otherwise I’d be a tired grumpy mother. Taking care of myself, and acknowledging my own needs should not be a function of my mothering. The equation should not be: The kids need a happy me, so therefore I begrudgingly allow myself a break.
I am a person.
I am allowed it have things. It is my legitimate right. And sometimes my needs as a person take priority over the needs of the little people in my life.
Now I’m going to tell myself that every day until I believe it.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pabak/14180748291