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the crib sheet

I am selfish

Brooke Nalle

I feel guilty.  Is it selfish?  I really wanted to be a mother, but I am just so tired.  I miss my old life, my pre-baby body, my Saturday mornings, my Thursday nights.  I know I shouldn't look forward to work, but I need to get out of here! 

Let me be clear, just because you wanted to and for many of you fought hard to become a parent, it doesn't mean that you have to punish yourself for the next I don't know 18-30 years.  You should miss these things, these memories of adventure, energy, endless weekends, thrilling professional opportunities, cute outifts for a night out, or even better a new bikini for a get away.  I sure do miss them.  I look at pictures of myself 10 years ago, and I can't help but say out loud again and again, "wow, I looked so young".  

I am going to go out on a limb and say that we should more often tap into these memories, these desires for independence, for accomplishment outside the nursery walls.  It is not weak to want your baby to sleep so that you can sleep.  It is not selfish to look at and even apply for jobs that you know you shouldn't consider.  In fact, if I ran an online diaper company website, I would sell cute clothes, shoes, and accessories for moms so that my customers could get one small break from ordering wipes and lotions and of course diapers.  

I love being a mother, but I am not a martyr.  I complain a lot and look for ways to catch a break here or there.  I started small - - a detour from the grocery store to get a cup of coffee before I got home, dinner by myself.  On the sleep front, I took work that required me to be out of the house at bedtime and believe it or not, my husband was able to put the children to bed without me.  In fact, I think Loewy was a better sleeper because of it.  I met friends for a quick drink after work, and boy oh boy I was tired the next day, but I was happy. 

I work with women who need to work to feel better, and I work with women who need to not work to feel better.  I help families who have no choice but to work and wish they could change that.  These parents might initially seem very different, but they do have quite a bit in common.  They all feel guilty for wanting or having to work (or not work); they all feel selfish for wanting to sleep and get a break.  I understand that.  I wish I could change it, but I can't even get rid of my own guilt about working, needing a break.  However I can say with confidence that I respect a parent who is willing to say that this is tough, much tougher than she thought it would be.  Honestly, I think the choice to take a moment and be kind to yourself is heroic and one of the best things you can do as a parent.