Two nights ago, I said to my husband, "I just want to go to bed early so I can get up to go to the gym at 5:00!". This statement came as we listened to Elisabeth cry outside her bedroom door. It was 9:15. I hesitated going in because I knew I'd be trapped, cramped into a twin bed beside her, until she fell asleep. Waffling for another half minute, I finally went in.
One of the biggest challenges that I have as a mom is reconciling my needs with what my daughter needs. Almost three, Elisabeth reacts strongly to certain situations, seemingly without rhyme or reason, and in turn, I feel frustrated and resentful. This is certainly normal and par for the course for the age. And yet, I should be able to pee when I need to...or go to bed early...or leave the house wearing the shoes I'd planned to. Should. Because no matter how good your planning or intentions, things can sometimes come to an agonizing halt when an older toddler lives in your house.
When you're determined to do something you desperately want, it can be almost physically painful to not be able to do it. As a mom, I feel like I've been in that spot a lot recently. And no, it's not impossible to get up at 5:00 for the gym if you go to bed late. But I work hard not to scrabble through days, living from a place of personal deficiency. Less than seven hours of sleep is too little for me if I need to get up at 5:00. I know that. It's too little and it's also not sustainable.
So, what do you do? Two nights ago, I gave up. I went into her bedroom and hoped for a speedy exit. I was lucky. But other times, I haven't been. Not being able to depend on luck, I have to fall back on options. I always have those. One option is to ask for help from my husband before I get to the resentful stage. Having a second person step in to distract, soothe the wound-up child can be a gamechanger for everyone's mood. Another option is to do it anyway: go to the bathroom, deny her chocolate, wear the shoes I'd planned, even if Elisabeth is having a breakdown about it. I won't let her sob, gasping for breath alone in the dark but I will eat when I'm hungry, dammit!
Even if the littles in our lives don't get it, we moms have certain rights. I may not have the right to go to the gym when I please but I do have the right to eat breakfast. But let's not confuse those rights with self-care! Breakfast isn't self-care; it's our right as a working mom who needs energy to care for her children. How we choose to claim those rights is up to us. Like so much else with children, this is another "pick your battle" type-adventure.
What options do you have that you aren't exercising?