You should be ashamed for skipping your child’s awards ceremony for a workout.

“So I recently did something that others may consider selfish, but I truly needed it. I decided to skip my daughter’s honor roll assembly so that I could go for a walk and clear my brain.

As I made this difficult decision, I began to feel guilty, but then I remembered ME and how difficult Thanksgiving and the next week had been for me with my husband traveling.

How difficult it was to deal with the never-ending outbursts.

As I transitioned to a new healing program, dealing with hundreds of heat flashes wasn’t easy.

How difficult it was to balance my anxieties, home, children, dogs, and career.

And how difficult it has been to have even a single minute to myself.

I told her how pleased I was with her but that I needed to take care of myself this morning because I had to work late tonight. In my place, she had her father and grandmother with her.

What’s more, guess what?

She hugged me and thanked me for everything I did for her. She also learned today by example that SELF-CARE is important.

As parents, we sometimes have to make difficult choices and prioritize our own needs over our children’s. What’s more, you know what?

It’s called self-love, not selfishness.

Courtesy of Kristen Hewitt

Update:

My absence from my daughter’s honor roll assembly went viral. I was battling with anxiety and needed a respite with a full workday ahead of me, and her father had been gone for two weeks and was finally home.

I published a piece about how much I’d ignored myself (above) and how much I needed that small amount of self-care after I worked out. I was so proud of myself for finally saying yes to myself after eight years of parenthood that I decided to write about it! It felt amazing that I wanted to encourage other mothers to do the same.

The next day, several moms at school questioned why I wasn’t there with my husband and my mother, who was visiting from out of town. I lied and said I had to go to work. I couldn’t believe how much guilt and shame I felt for wanting to have an hour to myself. This is what I refer to as a mental health break.

When I got home that afternoon, I was furious with myself for lying and hiding behind my truth once more. I felt ashamed since it was one of the first times I finally stood up for myself since becoming a mother. Why are we made to feel guilty for looking after ourselves as women? I was furious because I felt compelled to disguise my need for self-care.

Then I considered the response to my decision on Facebook and how nice it felt to take that time for myself. I expected people to think it was selfish of me to run instead of attending her assembly, so I shared it on social media. I was ready to fully own and live my truth, regardless of others’ thoughts. I wanted other ladies and mothers to know that it’s perfectly fine to say no to their children and yes to themselves now and then. When life gets too much for you, it’s OK to fill your cup. It’s quite OK to prioritize yourself and ensure that your needs are met before those of others.

On the internet, I was slandered.

The article is doing the rounds once more. I got some messages like the ones below today:

Courtesy of Kristen Hewitt
Courtesy of Kristen Hewitt

I was being judged by women. They felt compelled to send me a private message to disrespect me.

This isn’t acceptable, ladies.

This isn’t a suitable answer when a working mother is experiencing trouble with her mental health and wants a break.

Please keep in mind that what you say about others reflects on YOU. Also, make sure you’re perfect before passing judgment on others.

Do I pass judgment on others? Yes, in my brain at times. Alternatively, I may talk to my mother or a close friend confidentially. But I’m working hard to recognize that we’re all different and listen to all viewpoints.

And 99.9% of the time, when I see something that disturbs me, I keep scrolling because you can never persuade someone to change their mind on the internet.

I smiled when I saw these messages, but what gets to me is that we are STILL treating one other this way in practically 2020. Putting strangers on the internet without knowing their complete story is a bad idea. And they believe that if a mother prioritizes herself, she is neglecting her children.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Taking care of ourselves is the same as caring for our children.

I make no apologies for missing that assembly on that particular day, and I have no regrets about sharing it on social media. I also encourage other women to follow suit. Our kids don’t need us at every book fair, concert, cookie day, superlative ceremony, baseball game, or any of the other 8,000 events they have every year, whether you’re a single parent, a stay-at-home mom, or work 80 hours a week. And you don’t have to make an excuse for missing it.

What our children require is for us to visit them at home.

It is being present to help them learn to love themselves. Motivate kids to work hard and demonstrate the discipline required for good grades. To serve as an example of kindness and thankfulness and place a higher value on those qualities than the letter on their report card. And to not try to be everything to everyone else while forgetting to give ourselves first.

Our daughter is adored and cherished, and she understands how fortunate she is to have me as her mother every day of her life. And it appears that, in this social media age, more children require their parents’ presence and a focus on what is best for them rather than what society thinks.

Courtesy of Kristen Hewitt

This was not a parenting decision; it was a self-care decision. And it’s one I’ll keep doing as our daughters get older and the activities proliferate. We can’t always live our lives for the sake of others; we only have one life to live. We only have this one moment, this one chance to make the most of our time.

Will we continue to prioritize others? Or will we finally begin to return the favor?

Sure, we have money to pay, kids to look after, and other job and life obligations, but that doesn’t mean we have to lose ourselves in motherhood. How would our children learn to enjoy and live their best lives if we aren’t doing so?

It makes no difference what others think of our decisions, how we parent our children, or how we spend our time. Take time for yourself if you need it. If you have to, now is the time. Because you and I both matter.

Please think twice the next time you’re going to make a harsh comment on social media. Examine why you’re triggered and whether or not your words will make a difference. Are they beneficial?

And, if you’re like me and get unfavorable feedback frequently, don’t take it personally. Life is far too short to be concerned about the opinions of strangers on the internet.

And to the ladies that felt compelled to message me today. I’m a good mother who makes mistakes regularly but learns from them. And I adore my daughters beyond all else, and THAT IS ENOUGH FOR ME.

Let’s make 2020 a better year as a sisterhood. Don’t you believe we all need and deserve a lot more love and support?”

Courtesy of Kristen Hewitt

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