Permission to be me

A month ago I started to write a blog post on ‘giving myself permission’ but the words didn’t come.  So I saved the post I’d started as a draft and let my subconscious ponder the idea for a while.  Then, last week in my Mondo Beyondo class jen and andrea talked about the importance about giving ourselves permission to do the things we want to do, and honouring those choices … and it brought my struggle to write about the concept of permission to the forefront again. Let’s see if my thoughts will flow for me on this topic this time. 

If I just scratch the surface of my current relationship with permission, I will admit that there are several material things that I have really never been able to give myself much permission to buy.  Makeup and jewellery come to mind right away.  These items have always been sticking points for me, and I’ll try to figure out why that is another time.  But here I’d like to go beyond material things and get a little deeper.  I’d like to admit to you that the thing I currently struggle with the most is giving myself permission to take time. And in particular take time to do things that are just for me.

I never used to understand why people were so busy, because as a single person and then a married person I always seemed to have enough time to do most of the things I wanted to do.  It was always everyone else around me that couldn’t seem to fit everything in, and I wondered why people ran their lives so hard.  I just didn’t ‘get it’ then.

But two years ago I had my daughter and life pretty much turned upside down.  Becoming a mother has brought with it a million wonderful joys I never could have dreamed of, but things have gotten pretty busy around here.  And somehow, in the midst of adding the position of “mom” to my resume, I seem to have added the position of “chief carrier of guilt” as well.  I now struggle a bit with allowing myself the time to do things just for me, and when I do take the time I sometimes feel guilty about it!  (What is that?)

Other women I have talked to have experienced the same phenomenon.  More than one of my friends has told me the story of the time when they got away on their own sans bebe to, say, go out shopping for a while, and then ended up going home early because they felt guilty that their partner was “stuck” doing the parenting thing all alone – something they just spent the whole day or week doing themselves.  Other women friends with small children have mentioned that they almost don’t know what to do with themselves once they get time on their own these days, as if they’ve forgotten how to be a woman with personal interests and not just a mother to someone.

I can relate.  It is easy to forget how to be myself when parenting takes up so much time and giving myself permission to do the things I want to do has sometimes been difficult. It doesn’t help when doing those things often costs money and – here comes that guilt again – we don’t have as much of it now that I am working part-time in order to partially stay home with our daughter to raise her.

I do have many questions as to how I can break free of this newly-acquired guilt to give myself more permission to be me.  But I think I have some of the answers too.  You know, a friend told me the other day that we most admire the qualities in other people that we actually possess ourselves.  And I do have the belief that I, too, can draw deep from within myself to be more like people I know that seem to be able to honour their dreams more fully than I.  As a mother I suppose I can suggest to myself that baby steps are the answer here, so I’m going to keep taking mine as sure-footed as I can.  I’ll give myself the permission to crawl and then to walk and then to run … right into living the life of which I’ve always dreamed.

7 thoughts on “Permission to be me

  1. I know exactly what you mean. I’ve worked a long time to get over mommy guilt. A recent mantra of mine that came from another friend is – if I am not happy and healthy, what good am I to my friends and family? When I feel that slight twinge of guilt that yet again I am spending a Saturday morning doing a training run, I remember this is what I need to feel fulfilled.

    Personally I feel motherhood has given me a laser-like focus on the things I want to do most. With limited time, I can’t wander from fun thing to fun thing. It also helps me give my husband some time to do the things he wants to do.

    I do feel this issue has gotten easier with time in parenting. As with any transition, it takes time to find new balance.

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    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments LauraC. I agree that if I am not happy and healthy then I am not any good to anyone else. I think intellectually most of us moms know this. But there seems to be a sticking point between thoughts and actions in this case…it’s a constant battle to live up to what I know is good for me! Hope you visit again!

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  2. love this.. good ramblings… yeah, this is the thing I hear alot when i talk to moms.. and the re-claiming of space for ourselves is so very, very important!

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  3. From another prospective, I can say that taking time to be a good mommy AND a fulfilled person gives one lots to share with grown children. Also I think having your own life is wonderful modeling for your children who most need you to point the way to successful adulthood. They do not need you to fulfill their every whim; in fact, a few wants give them goals and stars to reach for themselves.
    Okay I seem to be waxing didactic so will say, again, that the best thing I’ve done in my life is be a good mother and that includes being a fulfilled person.
    Bottom line? Make time for yourself, dream, soar.

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  4. Hey – I’m from the MB class! I think it’s great you are figuring this out now. I waited so long and though I loved spending so much time with my daughter, I feel like I wasted so much time not being happy with myself. I felt really guilty at first when I started being “selfish”, but am so much happier now. I am strong and confident and happy – the best example I could give my daughter.

    This girl at work said to me “We don’t do anything without our kids. My kids are my life.” I thought – boy – that might come back to haunt you some day when your kids are gone and you look across to your spouse and see someone you don’t recognize. Or you are struggling with your own identity because it’s no longer revolving around the kids.

    Who knows – maybe what makes you happy can also involve your kids? I know I just created an art studio out of the old toy room for us and my kid could not be happier about it. But I am also training for a 1/2 marathon in June and a full one in Oct – and that is all me-time. Give and take.

    FYI – I still think it’s hard buying something for myself – especially when she’s with me when I’m shopping. I was so used to only buying for her. She was too, so the first time I did it – just bought something for myself and nothing for her – she was shocked. Crazy, isn’t it? We are so giving to everyone else – we just forget to be giving to ourselves. Men know how to do this so much better than us, don’t they?

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    • Jill-Leslie it is so great to have you post your wise words here. I totally agree with you about the people that you work with. I would never want to boast about the fact that I didn’t do anything for myself – ugh! It takes constant reminders doesn’t it though, to do things that will feed our souls as individuals, and not just be parents? Thanks for your thoughts.

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