Wednesday, October 5, 2011

STOP with the Mommy Martyr Routine

The other day I happened to read a blog post that, frankly, pissed me off.  Let me give you the Cliff's Notes version:

I don't need "me" time because I get all my fulfillment from my children.  I would much rather spend an afternoon wiping butts and noses than sipping lattes and gossiping with my girlfriends.  I can't imagine taking an entire HOUR away from my precious nubbins just so that I could get a pedicure or have my eyebrows waxed.  In fact, I find that the best "me" time is when I'm tandem breastfeeding my eight-year-old and five-year-old and can stare into their eyes and daydream about their futures.

Are you wearing your 'WTF' face?

Yeah.  So was I.

I hate Mommy Martyrs.

Seriously.

I love my children.  They bring me so much joy in my life and I can't imagine not having them.  I enjoy spending time with them.  But guess what?  I also enjoy spending time without then.  Sometimes I like to spend time with my husband or chit chat with girlfriends or *gasp* even have FIVE EVER LOVING SECONDS all to myself.

Johnson & Johnson runs a "Having a Baby Changes Everything" advertising campaign.  And, you know, they're right. Having a baby really does change everything.  My life is so different than before I had children.  In addition to being just Brand, I'm also somebody's mother (three times over!)  Things that were important to me before are not as important now.  My priorities have changed.  I'm not entirely the same person but I'm more than just a mother.  In 2005, the year before I found myself pregnant for the first time, I was going out a few nights a week.  Now days I go out a few nights a year.  The point, though?  I still go out every once in a while.  Why?  Because I enjoy it.  Because it's fun.  Because every once in a while I like to be around other adults.  And having children did not magically turn me into a person who is much too old or mature or whatever else to enjoy having a drink and watching some white guy whose had too many try to do full on Michael Jackson on the dance floor.

Where did this perception that some women have, this perception that motherhood means completely and totally losing ourselves, where did it come from?  Why are there so many women who think they have to completely lose who they used to be in order to be a good mom?  And what happens to the children of these women?  Could you imagine growing up the child of a woman who was stuck up your butt since birth?  And what do these women do when their children are grown and out of the house and have lives of their own?  I have a feeling the Mommy Martyr Syndrome makes an empty nest all the more lonely.

The thing is -- I think most, 99.9%, of these Mommy Martyrs are lying.  For whatever reason, they can't - or won't - admit that they yearn for identity outside of their children.  And I think that's what pisses me off the most about women like that: they won't admit it then they turn to the internet and blog or Facebook a faux-perfect life.  And, in the process, try to make other mothers feel shitty.  Maybe the younger mom who doesn't understand why a woman with four kids never needs a break while she can't WAIT until her one baby goes down for a nap so she can have an hour to herself to shower or catch up on recorded TV.  Maybe the soccer mom who loathes shuttling her kids from place to place and just wishes for a Happy Hour once every few months. 

Look, it's okay to want to spend time away from your kids.  It's okay to be fulfilled by things other than JUST your children.  It's okay!  Beyond that, I'm going to go so far as to say it makes you a better mother to have interests outside of your children.  Imagine for a moment if YOU were the only thing your husband was interested in.  Ever.  If all his time was spent with you.  Seriously?  How . . . creepy. 

As mothers, we're pretty much called to put our children first.  But that doesn't mean we have to put every single thing about our entire lives on hold.  I don't know what I'd do without my trips with my girlfriends.  I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't sit down at night and waste an hour pinning on Pinterest or catching up on things I've recorded on my DVR.  I don't know what I'd do if I had no interests outside of my children.  That just seems like such a sad existence.  For mother and child alike.