My first post was titled ‘relationships are hard work‘ and they really are.
I definitely remember some difficult times before we had kids but add kids to the equation and it just takes difficult to a whole other level. One of the reasons, I think, is that we’re just so damned tired all the time. We barely have energy for ourselves much less to give to someone else.
The other night my husband came home from having a really bad day. I too had had a bad day and was going through my own stuff. He was going through his stuff. I know my husband wanted me to be there for him but I just couldn’t. I couldn’t give him the support he needed that night because I was struggling with my own tiredness and just didn’t have the energy to give.
To listen fully. To be open. I couldn’t do it.
I had done some writing in the morning, spent the day with my girls, come home to make supper and by this stage, that was it. I’d had it. It was one of those days where I was feeling completely shattered and my giving capacity had run out. And that’s what makes it so hard. Because there are those days when I’m just trying to survive and get through my own stuff. I’m so tired from the daily motions of being a parent and all that it entails, that by the time evening comes, I don’t necessarily want to talk, listen, or even care. I want to switch the TV on and disappear into a world where no one requires anything of me. Where I can switch on to switch off and not have to think about a single thing.
My husband often tells me I always start conversations when we’re going to sleep at night. That’s because the night isn’t long enough. Because sometimes I need that complete switch off before I’m ready to engage.
In saying that though, I have to say that now that our girls are getting older, it’s definitely a lot easier. I’m learning to work with my husband as opposed to against him. We’re working at being able to give more to ourselves and therefore more to each other. Because that’s the thing. If I’m depleted, unhappy, exhausted, I can’t fully give of myself to another (and that includes my children.) In order to give to my partner, I need to give to myself first. Give myself a break. Give myself a moment to rest. Give myself permission to give to myself. And in that giving to myself, I find that I not only have the capacity to give more, but that I actually want to give more, to listen fully, to be present, open, caring, loving. When I give to myself, it opens the door to a whole range of giving that I never even knew I had. I wasn’t able to give to my husband the other night because I could barely give to myself. And that’s one of the hardest things, isn’t it? But it’s so vital!
When you first become a mom, everyone always says, ‘look after yourself’, ‘leave the kids for a bit’, ‘go do something for you,’.
Did I do that? Not really.
Did I feel guilty for leaving my girls at home and doing something for me? Absolutely!
I had an epiphany not too long ago around this. I was sitting at the table eating lunch with my girls and everything in my body was screaming out to me that I did not want to be there. It’s a terrible feeling to be with your kids and to know that every fibre in your body is not wanting to be there at that moment. And the thing is, you can’t hide that feeling from your children. They know. They pick up on it. And I had the realisation, then and there, that this was no good for anyone. My body was there with them but everything else was wanting to be somewhere else. What a terrible message I was sending to my girls. And it wasn’t because of them, it was because I had not given any time to myself and this was the result. Then and there, I got up and said, ‘I’m going out, I’ll see you later’ and I got up and went out.
And when I came back, I was excited to see my girls. I could give them attention and be present because I had given to myself. I had made myself the priority. I always knew in my head that it was important to give to me but in that moment sitting at the table I felt it in my heart and knew what was best for all of us.
It’s taken me nearly 7 years to really get that and I’m still getting it. It’s only really now that I’m giving myself permission to give to me, to make myself a priority and not feel guilty about it because by giving to me I not only have more energy to give to my husband, but to my whole family. When I make myself a priority, I am a better person, mom, wife, everything! Seems so obvious, right? So why is it such a hard thing to do?
Do you make yourself a priority? Do you feel guilty about taking time for yourself?