Babywise Week: Be a Little Selfish

It’s Babywise Blog Network Week again! All week, we’ll be featuring blog posts from other Babywise-friendly blogs. The schedule is as follows:

· Monday: Maureen Monfore, Childwise Chat
· Tuesday: Valerie Plowman, Chronicles of a Babywise Mom
· Wednesday: Bethany Lynch, The Graceful Mom
· Thursday: Rachel Norman, A Mother Far From Home
· Friday: Emily Parker, Journey of Parenthood

Go ahead, think only of yourself every now and then. It’s okay. In fact, it’s good for your child. I’m not saying that you should ignore your child and have him fend for himself. Odds are, if you’re reading a parenting blog, you’re not the type to neglect your child. It’s likely you can’t even imagine a parent who neglects their child. I was that way for a while. I’d hear stories of completely selfish moms, like one mom I know of who just tells her kids to go to bed without reading or tucking them in. I was aghast!

But I digress. The point of this post is that if you are the type to build your life around your children, it’s important to take some time for yourself. Now I’m not going to tell you to nap every time your baby naps. That’s just unrealistic. The dishes and laundry have to get done at some point. But do take some time away from motherhood. Even if you’re still physically with your children (it’s hard to get away sometimes), let your thoughts wander. Think about your own dreams and aspirations. Think about whatever it is that excites you.

If you’re not sure what excites you — as a person, not a mom — then it might be an indication that you’ve been mired in mommyhood a little too long. We need to keep growing as people because some day, our kids will leave the nest. It scares me to think about it, but my oldest is almost 9. That’s half-way to 18! Anyway, spend some time pondering whatever you think might help you grow as a person. Take a cooking class. Join a book club. Learn photography. Volunteer for a cause you believe in. Whatever it is, find something that will help you grow and get out of mommy mode for a while.

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that being selfish can be good for your child. The Ezzos warn us being too child-centered. Our children need us to not build our lives around them. The oft-uttered phrase in Ezzo circles is “the child is a welcome member of the family, but not the center of it.” To avoid raising selfish children, we need to be a little selfish ourselves. Our kids need to see that we have lives that don’t include our kids. We weren’t born to wipe noses, pick up toys, and taxi our children around town. We stand on our own two feet and don’t need our children to fulfill us — or at least that’s how it should be.

I know how easy it can be to build a life that’s centered around the children. I couldn’t wait to be a mom. The corporate life wasn’t thrilling me. In fact, it was exhausting me. And I was so ready to move on to the next phase of my life. But I had to wait. As it happens, I got the mommy bug when my husband was in flight school. He wasn’t thrilled about having a child during such a rigorous program. So I waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, he was ready, and I quit my job! It’s a good thing, too, because William was so difficult (colicky, allergies, speech delay, etc.) that I can’t imagine his needs being met in a daycare.

But you can imagine that after having waited and changing my life so drastically, I did build my life around my child. Ultimately, when I learned more about child-centered parenting, I realized that I needed an outlet. I needed to escape from mommyhood every now and then. So I shifted my focus a bit and started to build my freelance copywriting business. It was, and still is, the perfect mix. I get to be a mom, and they get to see that I have a life that doesn’t include wiping noses.

If you’re a Babywise mom, you’re probably a planner. So take the time to plan out your escape from mommyhood. Find the catalog to the local community college to see what classes might excite you. Go to the local bookstore or library to find out about book clubs. Figure out what cause it is that you believe in most (animals, sick children, homeless, elderly), and find out how to volunteer. Whatever it is, make a plan to find your hobby and schedule it into your life.

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