Let’s be real there was a time before motherhood when I was able to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. The years of selfishness are over now that my son is my top priority. Everything I do, every decision I make is in his best interest…not my own. This has made me even more aware of that nagging feeling I get in new and unfamiliar situations.
Before Blake, I chose my daily activities based on my own desire. Did I want to attend? Was I in the mood to be social? Was I comfortable with the crowd? But now, in the mix of play dates, appointments and social engagements I’ve had to push myself further and further out of my comfort zone. Tackling these negative emotions has not been easy. And this push to want to get myself ‘out of my head’ and stop feeling guilty is something that has been a long time coming.
When I say this has been a long time coming, I mean it. In junior high, I remember skipping lunch and spending 30 minutes in the bathroom because I panicked when it came time to pick a lunch table. I remember feeling so much shame. That’s the first memory I have of my social anxiety being genuinely debilitating. Because of my age at the time I began to label and identify myself as someone who was introverted. I wasn’t wise enough to realize that these were irrational fears and that I had the power to change.
Flash forward 15 years, and that same girl is now a mom. A mom whose feelings tend to get put on the back burner. A mom who scheduled that play date 2 weeks ago and is feeling less than thrilled of its looming approach. A mom who can’t fake the social scene anymore. A mom who paints a smile, because her child’s joy is that much more important than her own.
My days are different now and although I can’t sit back and put my selfish needs ahead of my families, I can learn how to have the best of both worlds. I push myself to go with the flow, to get out of my comfort zone, embrace the unknown, and to grow as an individual. I attend that play date, because I know how much fun it will be for my son. I schedule an 8 a.m. swim class each weekend because I know it is an important skill for him to learn. I make the trip to the children’s museum, despite the crowds, because I know he could use a change of scenery. And I smile, because I know I’m doing what’s best for him.
But, I also know that with all of the “yes’s” come some “no’s.” And that’s ok.
To all the moms, sisters, aunts, grandmas, friends…to all the women out there: life can be daunting, it’s ok to say no. It’s ok to reschedule that play date you’re dreading. It’s ok to let your phone go to voicemail and leave that text unanswered. It’s ok to put your needs first every once in a while. It’s ok to just not feel like it. We all have those days. Those days do not define us. We are all doing the best we can. And it’s ok!