I was enlightened recently after a seemingly harmless chat with another mom turned into a momtroversy.
Well, at least it did in my mind.
Somehow the topic of my running, yoga and Orange Theory Fitness classes came up in conversation with my fellow working mother and she asked me if I ever felt guilty about abandoning my kids and husband for a workout. After all, it must be hard enough to get over the guilt of someone else raising my children all day, and then to leave them for yoga or a run alone? Couldn't I just do a DVD at home or something?
Now, that's not exactly what she said, but clearly, it's what she meant. It went a little more like this....
I mentioned with great enthusiasm how the yoga brings calmness to my life and that it offers a sense of balance and overall well-being that I haven’t felt since before I had kids. Feeling proud of my message and intent to inspire, I took in her response with a furrowed brow as she said "Oh my. That must be tough. Working all day, and then leaving your kids for yoga? Wow. I could never do that. Bad enough I leave them at day care all day, and then to leave them again to do something for myself? Oh no. I just wouldn't feel right. I don't know how you do it. You know, they have yoga DVD's you can do at home."
I was shocked, but remained composed. After all, her and I were the same breed. Both working moms, juggling career, the never-ending search for domestic bliss, field trips, and a definite case of stolen identity (suspects dressed as small bundles of supposed joy, weighing 6 to 8 lbs., just hours old). Clearly, she needed to be reminded that our militia must remain strong and united. We can’t afford to let judgement divide us. We must band together and rise-up in the mom wars. Yes. A smack was in order. Thankfully, this was one of those times where the effects of the yoga were still lingering, and prevented me from wiping the judgement off her face with my hand. Instead, I dug deep, I smiled and said something like, “They have weekend classes, let me know when you want to come.” I was proud of my self-restraint and moved about my merry way. Sort of.
Later at the office between answering emails, checking soccer schedules and arranging the weekly carpool, I began to obsess about her comments. Am I selfish because I enjoy spending so much time doing something for my SELF? Did my kids feel second to my yoga mat or running shoes? After all, I am already suffering from the careerism disease, and now the running addiction? Surely the Patron-Saint-of-Perfect-Mothers, who resembles June Cleaver, is looking down at me wondering where things went wrong. Not only am I terrible at following a recipe, and haven’t a clue how to sew a button back on, but now in addition to my radical life outside of domestic bliss, I was taking time for my SELF? A crime punishable by Starbucks Suspension and complete loss of Ann Taylor privileges.
SO, I decided to talk my feelings over with the only person who would understand. My husband. Yes, I used the words husband and understand together. You see, we both have a passion for life outside of our picket fence. He is equally committed not only to his career, but also to his devotion to his own fitness training. He spends a fair amount of time training and working out, attending seminars, reading books and exploring new limits. However, I doubt he has ever been asked if HE feels guilty. In fact, I know he hasn't, because I asked. In true female fashion, I pelted him with questions, demanding answers to all that was racing through my mind. And then I asked if it was possible that him and I are BOTH selfish people for taking time away from our kids to spend doing yoga or going to the gym. Actually, what I said was " Are we selfish because we do things like run, workout and take vacations without our kids? Do people think we are bad parents? Should we stay home more? Is bad that we both work? Do you think we should put crown molding in the bathroom? Don’t forget we have dinner plans Saturday night."
His answer? Well, this is why I love him, and why we work as a couple. He said to me "Sure, maybe it could be viewed as selfish to some people, but I look at like this: you can only share with your children the experiences you have had. So, if you stop doing things, experiencing new places, and give up on our passion or hobbies, you have limited what you can offer and share with them." This response reminded me of a quote that I have written in the back of my planner "Growth is the only evidence of life”. At that moment, I felt so fortunate to be traveling through life with someone who gets it. Who gets me. Someone who understands and encourages my need to continuously develop my SELF, even if it appears selfish to others, or defies the traditional rules of motherhood.
Sometimes during the final sav asana one of my favorite teachers will say "just stay here, at least two minutes. The outside world can wait. Sometimes, the hardest part of the day is just walking through the door. Just getting here and giving yourself this 90 minutes to make yourself physically stronger, mentally stronger. And remember, no talking. This is the only peace and quiet some people get. Let your neighbor know this the place they can come to heal, a place of consistency, a place they can have for themselves"
Well, I'm letting you know my friend (and fellow working mom who tried to diss me). Go to yoga. Go to the gym. Take a vacation. Take a bath and read a book. Revisit your passions. Don't be afraid to experience new things. You don't have to leave your SELF in the delivery room. Find your place of consistency. It exists out there and not only is it ok to explore, it's more necessary to maintain than you know. Do what you can to support your fellow females and help us grow our wolf pack. We need to stop judging and start inspiring. We need to dig out from these endless piles of to-do lists and reclaim our hobbies. We need to stand together and show our children that self-discovery and reflection time is the path toward evolution.
Michelle M Nocito, MBA, CRPC®, CDFA