You've been in full on 'mama-mode' for days, months, years even and you finally have somebody willing and able to watch over your little ones for a little while so that you can go out and go to the gym/get your hair cut/grocery shop... SHOWER by yourself. Your husband/mom/dad/grandparent/sibling/friend/sitter is all settled in with the kids. You walk out the door. You're euphoric! No... wait... there it is. WHAM! The Mommy Guilt. "Shouldn't I be reading to them right now?", "I must be a crappy mom if I WANT to get away from my kids this badly.", "I should be spending money on new clothes for my brood rather than on myself.", "But they were crying for me!"
Mommy guilt is POWERFUL. Mommy guilt is PAINFUL. I think different mamas feel it in different degrees. Some mamas' guilt might be stronger and hit them a little harder than others, but that doesn't make either one a bad mama, just a different one. (Wanted to get that little disclaimer out there early!)
I have always struggled BIG TIME with Mommy guilt. I don't get a chance to be completely by myself very often. Mostly by choice. I've chosen to stay home with my kids and to keep them here rather than have them in a daycare or preschool setting. I'm 100% happy with that choice, but I'm also human! And I need my batteries recharged every now and then.
As much as I struggle now, it's nothing compared to how I used to be when Sam was first born. I remember going to get my hair cut when he was 4 months old. James had to practically push me forcibly through the door to make it to my appointment. I spent my entire time in the chair sweating profusely and checking my phone obsessively for messages from home. I did not enjoy myself at.all. Some of that was just new mama jitters, but a lot of it was the crushing MOMMY GUILT. I shouldn't be taking time and money away from my baby! I should want to be with him 24/7! I should be a SUPERMOM who's batteries are everlasting and never ever need a recharge! That was the last time I went out on my own or did anything for myself for a long time.
Somewhere between being Sam's mama and James' wife, I forgot there was somebody else I needed to be. Sarah. I forgot how to be Sarah. And as important as Sam (and now Kate's) mama and James' wife is, Sarah is important too! Before I got married and became a mother, I had hobbies. I was a dancer and a teacher. I liked to read. I liked to go to the gym. I liked to watch and sing along to movie musicals. I liked to dress up. I liked to chat (okay gossip) with girlfriends. But I was starting to lose a lot of that. Some of it was just a part of growing up and growing into motherhood. Some of it had to go, and I was happy to see it go. But some of it, well I started to miss it, and I started to miss me.
It didn't get easier or better overnight. It was a gradual change. I started to workout from home while Sam napped. And Sarah started to peek through the mom uniform (yoga pants and a ponytail FYI) a bit. Then I started putting Sam in childcare at the gym for a little while and she peeked out a little more. Then, of course, the gym closed the childcare. I panicked a little then. I was starting to find ME again and I was afraid to lose her.
Enter Stroller Warriors.
It took me 2 months after I joined the Facebook group to actually make it to a workout. I was plagued with Mommy guilt the entire way there. Was I being selfish? It was a hot day. Should I really be forcing Sam to sit in a stroller for a half an hour so *I* could do something?
But after just one workout I was hooked. Not just on this amazing club, and being surrounded by such inspiring people, but on RUNNING. Because running was something for ME. It felt amazing to set and meet goals again. And the mommy guilt was kept at bay because Sam really seemed to LIKE riding along in the stroller for a run! He'd point out dogs or trucks, snack on snacks, yell encouraging things like, "FASTER!", and always had a blast at the playground when I was finished.
As I started to run more, and train for longer races, I started to do more solo runs. Good ole Mommy guilt came back to play then. I felt so guilty leaving Sam behind to go get in a few miles, but I was different than I had been a year prior. I had found Sarah again and was learning how to mesh 'Sarah' with 'Mama'. To do that, I needed to start looking Mommy guilt in the eye and say, "Not today!" (anybody catch the sort of vague Game of Thrones reference? Hmm? Anybody?).
Now I'm looking ahead to the summer when I will be marathon training. No, that's not a typo. MARATHON TRAINING. 26.2 miles. T.w.e.n.t.y. s.i.x. p.o.i.n.t. t.w.o MILES. Yep. Okay... moving on.
There's going to be A LOT of long solo runs. Probably a lot of long stroller runs too. I won't even start training til July and already I can feel the guilt.
I know that it's okay though. It's okay for me to take some time for myself. It's okay for me to make a goal that's just mine and mine alone. It's okay for my kids to come along for the ride sometimes in the stroller, (maybe a little longer than they might like, but don't worry, the stroller is where Mama starts handing out treats!), and it's okay for them to stay behind without me sometimes.
To be the BEST 'Sam and Kate's Mama' and 'James' wife' that I can be, I need to be the best Sarah I can be. I need to remember that I'm important too. My dreams and goals matter too. And as long as I remember that, I don't think I'll lose sight of ME again anytime soon.
After my very first race in October 2012