“You never play with us!” Five words that still sting.
I’ll never forget my then-5-year-old daughter getting in my face and making that statement.
One look into her big brown eyes and I knew: She just wanted to know why.
This exchange happened during a November I didn’t want to remember. I was drowning in election coverage, changed schedules and extra projects (TV ratings month); my dad was in the hospital; I had chronic bronchitis. That was a moment I realized that none of that mattered. When it came to the most precious things in my life—my children—all they could see was a mom who was not there.
This was an awakening. I looked my daughter in the eye and acknowledged the guilt that I deserved to feel, guilt that was warranted because I overextended myself and I did not have my priorities straight. I was not giving my kids the attention that I should, and I was certainly not taking care of myself.
It took me a while to figure out that there is a difference between real guilt (ignoring my kids) and good guilt (chocolate cake!). I think it’s healthy to keep ourselves in check. Thank goodness for little reminders like the one I got that November day.
It’s the good guilt that helps offset feelings of true regret. Many of us feel the good guilt when we finally decide to do something just for ourselves. It feels awkward when it comes to scheduling you. The truth is making time for me can make a world of difference. Finding solitude can not only be calming, but it can also help clear the mind. The possibilities are endless. You’ll find you notice things more, new ideas are born and reflections and priorities become clearer. In your busy world this is something that is very easy to forget and put on the back burner. It’s why I think it’s important to insist on finding a way to work a moment (even if it’s just minutes) of solitude into your daily life.
There’s no textbook answer to this. It really comes down to doing something that makes you happy and gives you that break you deserve.
My me moments include:
• I sit in my car for 20-30 minutes reading from my collection of O, People and Time magazines and catalogs before heading into a house of kids.
• I can’t afford to go to the spa every day, so I created my own in my mind. I squeezed a teak shower bench in my shower. It’s become my safe place. I have been known to just sit there under hot running water doing nothing for half an hour.
• MNO: My night out. Sorry, you’re not invited. One of my favorite getaways is going out for a big Rice Krispies treat and glass of red wine. Just thinking about the pairing brings a smile to my face.
• Some meditate; I pray, and I use that time to take real, deep breaths. Sometimes you have to physically get all the noise out, and this has definitely helped. I’m amazed by the power of something so simple.