As girls we are taught to nurture. We are given baby dolls and play house in preschool. If someone cries, girls generally will rush to the upset person and ask what’s wrong. It’s a sign of concern but girls learn empathy as a reflex. It’s a matter of etiquette and also being perceived as a “nice person” in the world. In addition, being kind to others establishes cooperation and harmony. These are beautiful qualities to build among people. Studies have shown that altruism can bring great happiness. But what happens when one gives without receiving (enough)?
One can argue that mothering is thankless. The rewards are not tangible: there is no pay, little verbal acknowledgement and endless cycles of repetitious feeding and cleaning up after others. It takes mindfulness to notice your child reach for your arms and smile at you. Unless you are attuned to the intrinsic rewards of loving another little person, it’s easy to feel burnt-out. You easily forget your own needs in the midst of life.
Sometimes you forget your identity outside of motherhood. How do you find the energy to do the activities you loved before having children? If you don’t have time or energy to care for yourself you get resentful. The only solution is to prioritize yourself. There is an old adage about putting your oxygen mask first before you put on your child’s. It’s not selfish to put on your oxygen mask first in a crisis. You cannot help others if you can’t breathe.
I’ve met countless mothers who feel guilty about taking time for themselves. They feel like they are missing valuable famliy time or couuld be doing something more productive than self-care. “Mom’s Bill of Rights” is a reminder to moms that your happiness matters— a lot.
You have a right to ask for help. People can’t read your mind. Asking is key to receiving.
You have a right to take breaks and rest. Dads do this all the time, so channel your inner dad. Be alone in a room: take a nap or read a magazine.
You have a right to experience your spirituality. Pray or meditate or walk in the woods. Do whatever helps you feel at peace and connects you with a higher power.
You have a right to experience life outside of motherhood. Go on dates, meet a friend for coffee.
You have a right to have pleasure. Have a special treat, get a massage, take a bath.
You have a right to feel separate in the world. Leave your kid in the care of a trusted caregiver.
You have a right to master skills and activities and take pride in your competency. Take a class, master a delicious recipe, build something with your hands.
You have a right to drop the ball- nobody is perfect. So skip an after school activity, feed your kid hotdogs, and just say no to volunteering.