One of the moms on a list serve I subscribe to sent this article, wondering what others thought of it. This list serve is an “alternative” parenting one which tends to mean that questions about issues like vaccinations, bed-sharing, babywearing and extended breastfeeding are welcomed in a non-judgmental space. What’s not commonly discussed is how we, as women, feel our identity shifts in this role as an “attached parent”. Leave it to me to get right in there with this article as the spur in my side.
Swoon! You know I was a life coach in a previous life but dear lord, I hope most of us are still aware of the importance of good self-care. Here’s a refresher: self-care is the grounded in the premise that in order for you to do your best work (however you define it), you need to act in a loving way toward yourself. These acts can be anything (monthly massage, dinner out, weekly hot yoga, morning runs, etc.) provided they are for YOU. Hence the term, self-care. But newsflash to article author Chaley Ann-Scott: self-care is important for moms too. I would argue that it’s not only important but essential. And, yes, self-care for moms means time away from their kids. Contract to what Ann-Scott says, time away is vital.
I think it’s a mistake to minimize, as Ann-Scott does, the benefits that come with taking a step away. You’ve heard from people more expert than I about self-care. This is true for any of us, not just moms. Ever worked hard at a problem but despite your best efforts, you weren’t getting anywhere? What happens when you step away…even just to get a cup of tea? Fresh air, in a new space, using a different part of your brain often results in a breakthrough idea. This is just one benefit. Other benefits from regular self-care include greater patience with yourself and others; better physical health; increased ability to stick to personal boundaries; greater ability to meet set goals. There’s more of course, some of which Dr. Christina Hibbert touches on here. And, she’s got 6 kids!
Remember that old definition of insanity? That’s right: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. How is that any different from what Chaley-Scott is recommending which is to stick it out with your kids, to “really get down on their level and connect with them.” Do what you’ve been doing, moms, just do it with more focus! Yikes. This is not only the perfect way to start that collection of emotional resentment that you’ve always wanted but a perfect way to teach your kids that their own emotions, needs and wants are unimportant. I will also add that it is downright dangerous for Chaley-Scott to universally advise all moms to stick it out. Moms with a history of depression, post-partum mood disorders or a variety of other mental health challenges should absolutely take time away from their kids for their own health and safety as well as that of their children. [For more onpost-partum depression and other mood disorders, click here.]
I don’t want my daughter learning the lesson of selfless dedication to someone else as part of my inheritance to her. How will that ever serve her? She will see generosity of spirit, love and devotion to others but also to herself. It seems to me that girls today have enough challenges growing up in this world that tells them that they can do anything that they want to…and expects them to then do it all, perfectly. Let’s give them and ourselves a break by teaching our children that healthy people have lives outside their job, whether that job is 9-5 in a bank or 8-8 at home. And this is a lesson that Elisabeth will learn from her father too. I’m not the only parent she has. We do a grave disservice to boys and girls when we focus exclusively on mom as the caregiver who should be everything, all the time to their children.
Attached parenting doesn’t mean that parent and child are attached 24/7. Twisting this age-old parenting idea of empathy, love and instinct to the dangerous extreme of utter selflessness is not attachment parenting. It’s sensationalist garbage which exacerbates the “be everything, do everything” pressure that so many moms already feel. Aren’t we better than that? I think so.
Side note: I just watched this latest episode of MarieTV where Marie talks with Latham Thomas about new moms growing their businesses. Watch it all but especially check out 7:55 where Latham is talking about self-care. Underscores my points nicely.
What do YOU think? Agree? Disagree? Do tell. Leave a comment below.