As parents, we are always learning and adapting as our kids get older, change, and develop different needs. As women, professionals, wives, mothers, and friends, our needs are always changing too. Below are a few of the big issues that I find myself constantly navigating, some of which you might be navigating too. They are ongoing, and I’m doing my very best, but some days, some weeks— maybe even some years— are better than others.
- SETTING BOUNDARIES This can really be a tough one. But children need to have boundaries. They are total crazies sometimes! Boundaries need to be set for our children— and also for ourselves. As parents, we have to be clear about what we will and won’t put up with. While my children are my number- one priority and most of the time the center of my universe, they cannot and should not be the center focus all the time. My children push the limits, and occasionally, when I don’t have the energy, I give in. Lately Brooks has been going to bed about an hour later than his bedtime. We made a few exceptions recently because his daddy got home from work late— but Brooks has really been pushing it, and it’s been a nightmare to get him to bed. I am working on setting boundaries and following through with my children when they leap over them. Children must experience consequences and the impact of a line crossed. This is teaching them not only respect for one another but also respect for themselves and self- discipline.
BEING THE “YES WOMAN” I used to say yes to literally everything. I tried to be there for everything and everyone. People who really, really mattered in my life suffered as a result of me spreading myself so thin. And I suffered too. I am learning to occasionally say no to things. I cannot go to every baby shower, wedding, or playdate. I am learning to prioritize, decide what’s important, and let everything else go. And most important— not feel guilty about it. By letting go of what is not as important, you create room and time for the things that truly matter.
SELF- ACCEPTANCE I had so much trouble breast- feeding with all three of my infants. I tried every time, but it never worked for me at length. My milk did come in small rations, one little drop at a time, but only for a few weeks. The first time, I was truly devastated and did everything in my power to try to make it work. I drank all manner of home remedies, met with the best lactation specialist— but no leash! I was depressed and felt like a total and complete failure. It didn’t matter. All three babies were beautiful and healthy. But I had to learn to accept the reality of my body. It didn’t make me any less of a
mother. I still bonded with each baby during bottle feeding and woke up for every sleep feeding. Some of you won’t relate because you probably had a freezer full of breast milk! But for me, my challenges with breastfeeding have helped me learn to acknowledge my limitations and accept those things that I don’t have control over. And to be kinder to myself. This self- acceptance is, of course, a daily battle. But it’s something that I continue work on. Basically, I am working on not being so darn hard on myself.
4. ACCEPTANCE OF THE LITTLE ONES You might think that your toddler absolutely must be sleeping through the night by eight weeks, finished with the bottle by age two, and diaper- free by age three, and so on. But the truth is . . . who cares! If they are a little behind, it’s really no big deal. You’ve got to sometimes be a little easier not only on yourself, but also on your children too. Positive encouragement is good— but too much pressure or force isn’t. I promise you, they will get there. Continue to encourage them and before you know it, they’ll be on their way.
ME (-ISH) TIME
When I was researching this book, I read some statistics that were honestly terrifying. A private study of nearly two thousand moms in England found that women reportedly have only seventeen minutes of “me time” per day, and that probably includes going to the bathroom and showering. Congratulations, supermommas, you have seventeen minutes total to go to the bathroom alone. Most of us are nodding our heads because we know how true this is and how we often have to tag- team with husband, partner, babysitter, or loved one to have a few minutes just to hop in the shower. Yikes.
Before I had my children, I could sleep in until 11:00 a.m. on a Sunday if I wanted to. Those of you with babies know that there is simply no more sleeping in. Vacation used to mean going somewhere with someone where I could drink, get tan in a bikini, and relax. Now I just want to go somewhere I can sleep. If you could wrap sleep hours up in a box and give them to me for Christmas, I would be in heaven. For those of you without children, you may be in the same boat. Working long hours or out late with clients, burning the candle from both ends and not making time for yourself— we can all relate.
While I am lucky to have home- based child care, which is hugely helpful, and I have a flexible work schedule, I still work forty hours a week. And I am still up at the crack of dawn changing diapers, making breakfast, and slipping wiggly arms, legs, and toes into sweaters, socks, and shoes. And (most days) I am happy to do it. But I am also keenly aware of needing space away from my mini- beings. I know with 100 percent certainty that I need to take time to recharge and enjoy life as Molly, not just as momma, so that I can actually be a better mother to my kids and a better partner to my husband. I believe, airplane- style, that we have to put on our oxygen masks first and then help others with theirs. We have to check in with ourselves. As moms, we have to make time for ourselves. If we don’t make the time for ourselves, we simply will not get it. That goes for single women too. A lot of us sacrifice so much for our careers, our bosses, our family, and our friends that we leave our own selves in the dust.
Me time for each of us means different things. For me, it most often means carving out time to be with my close friends. Or enjoying a wedding weekend away with the hubby and no kids in tow (praise be!). Often it means having a no- time- limit, no- interruption (kids/husband) phone conversation with a girlfriend or shopping. I almost never shop. So when my shopping- addicted amiga, Emese, is in town, we shop till I drop. For an hour, two hours— maybe even an entire afternoon. True retail therapy isn’t about buying things— it’s being able to shop without worrying about car seats, strollers, iPads, snacks, or toddlers hiding between the racks! The other thing I try to commit to once a year is a spa weekend with a girlfriend. Last year, I didn’t make the time. But this year, I was on it! We have daily massages, colonics (yes, I believe in them), facials, and trashy magazine time. It is a vacation for body, soul, and brain. I don’t think about work. I try not to worry about the kids. I just relax and enjoy time to myself. Most of the year I am thinking about everyone else, but when I am there— it’s 100 percent about me. And if I want to read the Daily Mail and the New York Post all day long, I do and I don’t give a damn.