‘I missed my daughter’s honor roll assembly so I could go for a walk and burn off anxiety. It’s not selfish, it’s called self-love.’: Woman responds to mom shamers, ‘taking care of ourselves IS taking care of our kids’

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“So I did something that some may think is selfish recently, but I really needed it. I missed my daughter’s honor roll assembly so I could go for a walk to clear my head and burn off some anxiety.

I started to feel the guilt creep in as I made this tough decision, but then I remembered ME, and how hard Thanksgiving and the week that followed was with my husband traveling.

How hard it was to deal with the tantrums that were never-ending.

How hard it was to feel 100’s of hot flashes as I am transitioning to a new healing protocol.

How hard it was to manage my anxiety, the house, the kids, the pets, and work.

And how hard it’s been to not have one single minute to myself.

I talked to her about how proud I was of her, but let her know I have to work late tonight and needed to take care of myself this morning. She also had her father and grandmother attending in my place.

Guess what?

She understood, gave me a hug, and thanked me for all I do for her. She also learned by example today that SELF-CARE matters.

Sometimes as parents we have to make hard decisions and show up for ourselves instead of showing up for our kids. And you know what?

It’s not selfish – it’s called self-love.

Courtesy of Kristen Hewitt

Update:

I went viral for missing my daughter’s honor roll assembly. Her dad had been gone for two weeks and was finally home, I was struggling deep with anxiety, and I needed a break with a long work day ahead of me.

After I worked out, I wrote a post about how much I’d neglected myself (above) and how much I needed that little bit of self-care. I was SO proud of myself for saying yes to myself for the first time in eight years of motherhood, that I wrote about it! It felt so good that I wanted to inspire other moms to take care of themselves.

The next day several moms at school asked me why I wasn’t there with my husband and my mom who was in town visiting. I lied and told them I had to work. I couldn’t believe I actually felt even more guilt and shame for wanting to take a whole hour to myself. Something I call a mental health break.

When I went home that afternoon I was so mad at myself for lying and hiding once again behind my truth. It was one of the first times since becoming a mom that I finally showed up for myself and I felt shame? Why are we as women made to feel guilty for taking care of ourselves? And I was even angrier that I felt I had to hide the need to nurture myself.

Then, I looked at the response to my Facebook post about my decision, and how good it felt to take that me-time. I knew people might think it’s selfish to run instead of attending her assembly, but that’s exactly why I posted it on social media. I was ready to finally own and live my truth, and I didn’t care what anyone else thought. I wanted other women and moms to know that it’s OK to say no to their kids and say yes to themselves every once in a while. It’s OK to fill your cup when life gets overwhelming. It’s OK to put yourself first and make sure your needs are taken care of before anyone else’s.

I was vilified on the Internet.

Well, the article is making it’s rounds again. Today, I received some messages like the ones below:

Courtesy of Kristen Hewitt
Courtesy of Kristen Hewitt

Women were judging me. So much so that they felt the need to privately message me to insult me.

Ladies, this isn’t OK.

When a working mother is having a hard time with her mental health and needs a break, this isn’t an appropriate response.

Please remember that what you say about others says more about YOU. And before you judge others, make sure you’re perfect.

Do I judge people? Sure sometimes, in my head. Or privately to my mom or a close friend. But I’m really working on accepting that we are all different, and listening to all viewpoints.

And when I see something that really bothers me, 99.9% of the time I keep scrolling. Because you’ll NEVER change anyone’s opinion on the internet.

I laughed when I saw these messages, but what really gets me is that in almost 2020, we are STILL treating each other like this. Putting strangers down on the internet without knowing the full story. And thinking when a mother puts herself first she’s neglecting her kids.

Clearly that couldn’t be further from the truth. Taking care of ourselves IS taking care of our kids.

I make no apologies for missing that assembly that day, nor do I regret posting it on social media. And I encourage more women to do the same. It doesn’t matter if you’re a single mom, a stay at home mom, or work 80 hours a week, our kids don’t need us at every book fair, concert, cookie day, superlative ceremony, baseball game, or one of the other 8,000 events they have every single year. And you don’t need an excuse for why you’re missing it.

What kids need is for us to show up at home.

To be there to teach them to love themselves. To encourage them to work hard and show them the discipline it takes to get good grades. To model kindness and gratitude, and value those traits more than the letter on their report card. And to not be everything for everyone else, but forget to first give to ourselves.

Our daughter is loved, cherished, and knows every single day of her life how grateful I was to be chosen as her mother. And it seems more children in this social media age need their parents present and more focused on what’s right for them, instead of what society may think.

Courtesy of Kristen Hewitt

This choice I made wasn’t a parenting decision, it was a self-care choice. And it’s one I will continue to make as our girls grow older and the activities multiply. We can’t always live our lives for others, we only have this one day. This one moment, this one opportunity to make what we want out of our time.

Will we continue to put others first? Or will we finally start giving back to ourselves?

Sure we have responsibilities, bills, kids, and other work and life priorities, but that doesn’t mean we have to lose ourselves in motherhood. If we aren’t enjoying and living our best life, how will our children learn to do the same?

It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of our choices, how we raise our children, or what we do with our time. If you need time for you, take it. Now if you have to. Because you matter and so do I.

The next time you are about to comment negatively to someone on social media, please think twice. Ask yourself why you’re triggered, and will your words really make a difference? Are they helpful?

And if you are like me and receive negative comments regularly, please don’t take them personally. Life is WAY to short to worry what strangers on the internet think.

And to these ladies that felt the need to message me today, no I don’t feel shame. I’m a GOOD mom who makes mistakes daily, but I learn from them. And I love my girls more than anything in the world, and THAT’S enough.

Collectively as a sisterhood let’s do better in 2020. We al need and deserve a lot more love and support, don’t you think?”

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Courtesy of Kristen Hewitt

This story was written by Kristen Hewitt. You can follow her on her website here and Facebook here and Instagram here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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