There’s a powerful message in this book, and I wish I’d heard it right out…
As far as I’m concerned, I get two days a year when I’m totally justified being selfish – my birthday and Mother’s Day – so you can imagine my disappointment when I learned that my daughter’s choir would be singing at church Mother’s Day morning. It’s not like I have any grand plans, but sleeping in, guilt-free, is a must on Mother’s Day. Call me crazy but frantically dressing the girls in uncomfortable clothes they’ll complain about and then urging them to sit still and scolding them for talking isn’t how I envisioned this holiday starting out.
So, thanks to Bria Simpson’s The Balanced Mom, I did the unthinkable. I announced that we’d be passing on this performance. My husband, of course, teased me about being dead inside. What mother doesn’t want to see her adorable child perform? But I stood my ground, limiting my kid’s activities in an attempt to have the day I want.
I bet you can guess what came next. Guilt. Erica Jong wrote, “Show me a woman who doesn’t feel guilt and I’ll show you a man.” I’m sure the choir director didn’t mean to perpetuate it when she saw us at church last week and told me how much they’d missed Annabelle. I felt a desperate urge to defend my decision, but then I remembered what Simpson wrote. “Keep explanations to a minimum. Sometimes we add unnecessary stress to our lives by obsessing about the ideal way to get out of something. Save your energy for more important projects.” So I did because she’s absolutely right. “No one can make you feel guilty, unless you let them.”
At the risk of sounding ungrateful, I made another bold move. I asked my husband to forgo flowers and jewelry (even though he has impeccable taste) in lieu of a present that would “light my fire,” as Simpson encourages. No, not lingerie. That would be more appropriate for Father’s Day. Simpson claims, “We all have fires in our hearts – true passions…When we identify and integrate some passionate interests into our lives, we elevate ourselves…While engaged in a true passion, time often passes without your awareness. You are in the flow of something you love, and it’s easy to get lost in the present moment. What activities make you feel this way?” While writing is what immediately pops into my mind, the reality is that this solitary act requires inspiration so this Mother’s Day I asked for a family membership to the newly renovated Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, as there’s nothing I love more than spending an afternoon strolling through the Impressionist collection or taking in the latest exhibit.
For I realized when I read Simpson’s chapter on “Feeling Great About Affording Help” that while I was not guilty of sacrificing personal goals and a fulfilling life for material possessions, I was guilty of funding my daughters’ needs and interests before my own. “How you spend your money needs to reflect your values. If you value the idea of living a whole, balanced life, your spending needs to reflect this.” While my dream of a housekeeper is a bit further off, I saw this VMFA membership as something attainable and something, unlike a bouquet of flowers dead in a week, that will mean months of fun for me.
So take a “Mommy Time-Out” this weekend. “Shift your perspective to understand that it’s essential to take this time for yourself. A time for no plans and no schedules of any kind. You get to do what you feel like doing, rather than what your busy schedule demands.” Simpson has the audacity to recommend you do this at least once a week, but my aspirations aren’t quite that ambitious. However, I do plan to avoid the kitchen at all costs, ban the latest Kidz Bop CD from the stereo, and take up residence in the hammock out back with my latest read, The Painted Kiss by Elizabeth Hickey (a great historical fiction book about artist Gustav Klimt). Because if I can’t do it on Mother’s Day, when can I?