I’m taking this book The Balanced Mom: Raising Your Kids Without Losing Yourself by Bria Simpson to heart. In the second half of the book, the author talks about balancing your needs with those of your children. I have a great deal of trouble with that. I often find it hard to make time for my basic needs. I clean the house like there is no tomorrow. (Yes, I need to face Armageddon with a clean toilet and no dishes in the sink.) Today my friend comes over and I force myself to leave my house trashed before she arrives. I don't vacuum. I don't clean the bathroom. (Okay I have to put the dishwasher on.) She's still my best friend. In fact, we kind of celebrate the dirt. (Don't ask.)
I need to calm down about cleaning. I'm seriously trying. It's like telling an elephant to run backwards. Why? What the heck is wrong with me that I can’t get it together already and get domestic stuff done with ease!? I was so organized B.C. (before children). I had my professional ducks in a row. I cleaned every Saturday morning.
Simpson suggest that June Cleaver is a MYTHOLOGICAL BEING. There are cobwebs on my bedroom ceiling fan, but Baby Bigfoot's diaper is clean.
"I'm dispelling the myth!" I tell Milk Man. "Who thought it was a good idea to teach you to read?" He asks. Oh, he is a very funny man.
Simpson encourages readers to take time for themselves.
“I can do that?” I seriously wonder. “It’s not selfish?” I ask Norman Whiskers.
He stares at me, dumbfounded. Obviously the cat gets the idea that it’s okay to do NOTHING once in a while. I only do that when I’m exhausted. WHY?! It’s time to deprogram and debug my brain.
“We are programmed to believe that without “doing” we are wasting our time.” (30)
In the spirit of agreement, I decide to start doing for myself again. I go to a nail salon on the weekend and I get a manicure. My nail specialist, Min, is a grandmother of two. She obviously works hard, and takes pride in her business. Her hands are worn from working with them all day, and her nails are short and practical. In addition to the manicure, Min puts warm rocks on top of my hands and gives me a back rub. Finding out that I have three small children gets me special treatment.
“Ah, you live in the tension house. Poor thing!” Min says.
Meanwhile, I wonder, do strangers call my home “The Tension House?” I’m telling my brother about it later over salad and burgers at Chili’s.
“The whole time, looking around at the ladies washing people’s feet and giving them pedicures, I feel guilty. I could be spending this money in other ways. I could buy someone a meal or a coat instead of getting my nails done. I feel like I should be helping them. I’m so uncomfortable in the nail salon.” I say.
My brother laughs. “That’s their job. They want your business.”
Then he tells me to get rid of the over-developed sense of guilt. He’s right, but I still feel it. I think focusing too much on one’s appearance is selfish. I don’t want to be a selfish person.
I struggle with this idea daily with my children. Even typing the blog post during one of my scheduled “mommy time outs” gives me guilt. Am I neglecting their needs while I’m online? I could read The Cat in the Hat twice in the 15 minutes I spend typing. On the other hand, this break is good for me. I need to get all of this junk out of my brain and process it. That’s why I write.
Simpson says it’s alright to schedule time and put aside money for yourself. She suggests that making yourself happy and rested makes you a better parent. I’m listening.
I’ll be discussing this book again next Tuesday, and how putting Simpson’s advice into practice has affected my daily life.