My client he had just returned from a weekend vacation with her family, taking a much needed and well deserved break. As we talked, I saw another consistent pattern I see with many women I support. When I asked how well she enjoyed the vacation, she shared how well her children enjoyed it. She shared how hard she worked to ensure everyone on the trip had all they needed. How much preparation she did before the trip to ensure all went smoothly. How important it was for them to have a schedule and stick with it. Even with the blessed opportunity to take an overdue break from her busy life, she almost missed the opportunity to fully enjoy herself. Thankfully, she eventually let go of the organizing and scheduling and had a wonderful time as well.
As we continued our session, I realized my client was suffering from a very common symptom: “mommy guilt”. A hidden fear that no matter how much she did – how much time she spent, planning she did, provision she made, needs she met and love she offered – it might not be enough.
I deeply empathized with her concern. Assuring her it was more than obvious she went above and beyond in every aspect of her life – especially with her children. She clearly gave her all and whole heart to her work, home, mate, children, extended family and friends. The one person who was not benefiting from her whole-hearted commitment was HER.
I then made this poignant statement: “It’s OK to put yourself first.” As I said these words, emotion came up in her spirit. Clearly words her soul needed to hear. To know that she could give herself permission to put herself first. To take the best care of herself and put her needs before all else – even before those of her children. That she no longer needed to set aside all of her own desires in order to continue to be a good mom. To know that we are not called to be selfless, but a bit selfish. Not from a self-centered perspective. But, from a perspective of realizing that in putting ourselves first, we can be even more supportive of those in our lives. Doing so from a place of fulfillment and not deprivation. A place of wholeness and real commitment to self-care.
I shared that if there was one thing I would do to put myself first, it would be to get a massage every week (which I plan to do again very soon). I encouraged her to think of one thing she would love to do for herself, something that truly feeds her spirit. She began to share many things she would do if she just had more time to do so. Spending more time with her girlfriends reigniting a monthly girl’s dinner club night out (without the children) they had missed out on for months. Just being able to relax and watch some good TV or Netflix movie after long, hectic day rather immediately falling asleep due to exhaustion. Indulging her love for cooking and taking the cooking class she had put off for more than a year. Getting a nice massage at a salon not too far from home that she really enjoyed and visited months before. The more she shared the more excited she became. The more she shared, the more she realized she actually could do many of the things she really enjoyed and still be a good mother. She was not taking anything away from her family, but adding it. That it was not “either/or”, but “both/and”.
The moral of the story: As we wrapped up our session, I encouraged her to take immediate action in making this new perspective a reality. She decided to schedule a massage and pick out a movie (at a real theater 🙂 to see the very next day. She was elated – and so was I. When we reconnected she shared that later that evening she even had the chance to cook dinner with her friends. In just taking those simple steps, for the first time in months – maybe years – she gave herself permission to put herself first.
Can you relate to this mom’s struggles? Do you suffer with “mommy guilt” worried that you are not doing enough? That you are not enough? Well, I want to most certainly assure you that you are more than enough and I know that you are doing enough. I want you to let go of that misplaced guilt and begin to take the best care of yourself. As I shared with my client in doing so, you are actually setting a wonderful example for your children – especially your daughters to see. A mom truly loving, appreciating and taking the best care of yourself. What a legacy to leave behind.
If you’re a busy mom struggling with these issues, having difficulty balancing it all and eliminating the “mommy guilt” in your life – please feel free to reach out to me. I would love to support you in eliminating that guilt once and for all and learn to truly put yourself first.
April L. Ervin, MBA is a Spiritual Life Coach and founder of the Saving Superwoman Community. She supports highly accomplished women who struggle with burnout in their lives. Her ideal clients are spiritual, open-hearted women who are often stressed out, exhausted and struggle to put themselves first. She has dedicated her life’s work to helping these women transform their lives and bless them with the peace, balance and self-love they so truly deserve.