I am tired of feeling like what I want doesn’t matter.
Tired of not feeling heard.
Tired of coming in last place to anything and everything else that is going on in my family.
Just because I am The Mom.
I know I am not alone in feeling this way. (Please, someone, tell me I’m not alone in feeling this way, for the love of God.)
I’ve seen some of the funny stories in the past about moms going on strike, and I remember chuckling to myself about it and thinking that I understand completely.
But now it doesn’t seem so funny. Now a strike seems like a distinct possibility.
I’ve had moments myself when I lose my shit in front of my kids, because they are both sitting there with headphones on while I rush around making their breakfasts and lunches before school---and then they have the nerve to ask me to get them a drink.
I know, I know…I have no one to blame but myself for not setting better boundaries. I’ve taught them what I will allow, and they push it as far as they possibly can. Ugh.
A few years ago, I even cried in front of my kids at bedtime. I gathered them onto my bed and shared with them that I cannot possibly do it all on my own. It seemed to have somewhat of an effect on them, at least for a little while.
And I don’t think it was the tears, because they will be the first to tell you that I cry all the time…probably every day, in fact. But those tears are usually caused by some horrifying story like terrorism in London, or proud tears as I watch one of my kids accomplish something, or sappy tears while watching a hopeful singer on television, making their dreams come true.
But these tears were not sappy Mommy tears. They were real, Mommy-has-had-it-and-it’s-going-down-for-real tears.
My son---who at the time was only about 6 or 7---told me that night that my tears affected him so much that he felt his own eyes get juicy. (As a writer, I loved that phrase, and have used it many times since---so thanks for that, Bubba.)
But this time, it isn't just about needing them to help out around the house more.
This is about feeling like I matter.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I get that all moms sacrifice. It’s what we do. We know that coming into the gig. We might not know just how much we will sacrifice, but we know it will happen.
We know we will have 11-hour days on a Saturday that include only kid activities and not a lot of fun for us. We get that.
But it is starting to wear on me that I am expected to drop everything I have been doing---in the rare 90 minutes that I get to myself---when you come home and want me to immediately focus back on you in that exact moment.
Lights of my life, you are my world. But when I have been waiting for Coldplay to come on the One Love Manchester benefit concert and they just happen to come on the exact moment before you walk in? Then the answer is no. No, I will not turn the ear-splitting volume down on the music, because this six minutes of bliss I get while listening and watching Coldplay perform is quite possibly the only “fun” I will have this weekend.
Also, if I ask you to please not finish emptying the dishwasher, and that I want to do it when I am done watching Coldplay, I am not using some kind of reverse psychology on you and hoping that you will actually do it. I asked you that because I really and truly wanted to do it so that I feel like I have accomplished something in my day. But you chose not to hear me and took that one pseudo-accomplishment away from me.
(Also, just so you know, this is soooo not an area in which I will ever use reverse psychology. If I want you to finish unloading the dishwasher, I will ask you to. If I specifically ask you to not do so, there is a reason, trust me. Because who, in their right minds, would normally ask a stupid-ass question like that?!)
These things might seem like little things, and over the course of motherhood, they probably are. But when a few of them happen all at the same time, it can make us moms start to feel like we just don’t matter.
Just because you walked in the door at the wrong time doesn’t automatically mean I should turn my music down and give up the few moments of joy I might have today. Just because you chose not to listen when I asked you not to do something doesn’t mean I should have to give up my one measly accomplishment today.
And just because I’m the mom doesn’t mean that the things I want matter any less than the things you want.
It just means that you are used to me pushing my wants and needs aside in order to satisfy yours.
And I am done with that.
So I now hereby present to you, my Mom Matters Manifesto:
1. Just because all of you are suddenly home alllllllll the time does not, in fact, mean that all of your priorities become my priorities.
Because you are not the boss of me.
As a matter of fact, I will be the one dictating the priorities around here because I am, in fact, the boss of you.
2. I will put any and all self-care above any priorities you have for me. That includes exercising, meditating, and anything else that is required for me to stay sane this summer, and into the distant future.
By the way, the same goes for you. Any teeth-brushing, showering, exercising, or walking the dog you would like to do may come before any other priorities I give you for the day.
(This does not, however, include long, leisurely baths for children. They are required for my emotional health, but the chances of them being used as a way of avoiding chores is likely, so kid baths will not be given this same priority.)
3. There will be a list of tasks that you will be given on a daily basis that will be done before any playdate-scheduling or shuttling to the mall/friend’s house will happen. These will include summer reading (and any other necessary brain-boosting activities) for school, and chores to be done around the house. This list will be provided under separate cover and can change at any time.
4. All self-care, summer schoolwork, and household chores must also be completed before any WiFi is used.
5. Before you ask me to do something for you, you will be required to determine whether or not this is something you can do for yourself. I am the only one who can drive you places, but you can certainly get your own drink/breakfast/snack/lunch/afternoon snack, etc.
6. If I am doing something that is earning money that will ultimately be put toward an activity of yours, it will come first. Because swim team, dance, baseball, and private schools don’t grow on trees.
7. Last but not least, repeat this to yourself: My priorities are not mom’s priorities. My priorities are not mom’s priorities. My priorities are not mom’s priorities.
Okay, that’s it.
I love you, so don’t make me lose my shit or go insane. M’kay?
Because that won’t turn out well for any of us.
But mostly for you.