Yes, you read that right: I’m grateful for me.
I can’t decide if that’s blasphemous or just flat-out weird for a mother to say. I know that I should be writing about how insanely grateful I am for my kids, and I am insanely grateful for them—always.
That thought actually consumes me on a daily basis, and I’m not exaggerating. My brain is in a constant state of semi-anxiety about losing them, and my heart hurts a little bit all the time because I worry about them so much and because I love them so much.
The other part of motherhood is that I rarely think about myself. Not in a real way; it’s always in relation to my kids. When they were born, it’s like I ceased to exist as a separate person, and I guess that’s true in many ways. But I’m still here, even when I forget to take care of myself and even when I’m not particularly kind to myself. It’s especially bad at this time of the year when stress is hitting from every direction and time seems to barreling toward Christmas like a runaway sleigh with a drunk Santa at the helm.
I’m guessing you feel the same way, too. Because again, that’s motherhood in this bizarre time we’re living in.
But here’s the thing: We’re important, too. And I’m not saying that because we need the pat on the back (though, hey, that’s also nice). I’m saying it because it’s so easy for us to lose ourselves in the madness and to neglect ourselves in every way, and that makes us sick, tired and, well, sick and tired. When we burn out, it doesn’t help anyone—certainly not our kids, who we’re doing all of this for in the first place.
So let’s take a moment to acknowledge the fact that we’re grateful for us—for the jobs we’re doing as mothers and for everything else that makes us the women we are.
Here’s what I’m grateful for this holiday season…and what I’m going to try to remind myself of all year long. I hope that my little list inspires you do the same!
I am grateful for my body. It may look significantly different than it did pre-pregnancy and I may not be happy with all of the changes, but it got my kids here, it fed them when they were little, and it continues to comfort them. For that, I am forever grateful.
I am grateful for my mommy brain. I may not remember to text you back for three days and I may not realize that I’ve put on mismatched socks, but I’ve gained new perspective on life. The things that I once stressed over? I honestly can’t believe I wasted so much time on them when I could have been sleeping!
I am grateful for my ability to get shit done. It may not be pretty, but it all gets done…eventually…somehow.
I am grateful for my persistence. Nevertheless I persisted? You’re damn right I did. (See: Shit needs to get done.) Also, if I didn’t persist with the things that matter, my kids wouldn’t be half as kind, fun and awesome as they are…and they would probably eat a lot more cookies for breakfast.
I am grateful for my ability to keep a straight face when my kids do something hilarious and totally inappropriate. It’s not easy.
I’m grateful that I know when to say when. My kids need downtime as much as I do, and if that means skipping an action-packed day in favor of having a movie marathon, then that’s what we’re doing. I don’t even (always) feel guilty about it.
I am grateful that I had the foresight to keep the bigger pair of jeans and the pregnancy tank tops (which are just longer and more flattering). I may be mostly back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but things have…shifted. Also? I like to be comfortable, especially after eating an entire pumpkin pie.
I am grateful that I don’t run screaming from my house when my toddler throws Cheerios all over the floor…or when she promptly dumps out a jumbo-size carton of crayons in the very same spot right after I’ve cleaned up.
I am grateful that my brain is efficient. I do my work quickly and like there’s no time to waste, because there isn’t. (And it’s not just me—there are actually studies on this!)
I am grateful that I can survive on so little sleep…but equally thankful that my toddler has finally started to sleep through the night so that I don’t have to accomplish that great feat each and every day for the rest of my life.
I am grateful for my lack of shame. Most of my shame went out the window during childbirth, and I said good-bye to the rest of it shortly thereafter. As a result, I do everything from making up silly songs in public for my kids to asking the moms of potential play dates whether they keep guns in the house. (Awkward but necessary.)
I am grateful for my Spidey-Mom senses. Last week, my ankle buckled when I stepped on a branch, and I hit the pavement hard…with my toddler in my arms. By some combination of mommy skill and pure luck, I was able to twist my body and keep her face about a quarter of an inch away from slamming into the pavement. Again, grateful beyond words.
I am grateful for all of my weird quirks. Because of them, as well as my childhood obstacles (well, most of them) and my obsession with ’80s movies, I am the type of mother that I am.
I am grateful for my ability to turn an impulse to yell into a joke and a laugh. It lightens the mood and gets my point across to my kids in a productive way. Also, I feel like a better parent when I don’t sound like Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest.
I am grateful that I know when to apologize. Mommy makes mistakes, and Mommy flies off the handle occasionally. It is not my kids’ fault, and they need to know that.
I am grateful for my sense of right and wrong. And though I may doubt myself with many things, I am confident in the values that I’m teaching my kids—and the ways in which I’m attempting to do it.
I am grateful for my big mouth. Pre-kids, I didn’t like to rock the boat. I thought that people would think badly of me or that it just wasn’t worth it. Well, you know what? It is worth it. Because if my voice isn’t heard, the other awful ones will be, and I certainly don’t want my kids learning from them.
I am grateful that I genuinely enjoy being a mom. Yes, it’s stressful, and yes, I’m half-crazed at all times, but it’s definitely the best gig I’ve ever had and will ever have. And that’s especially surprising to me, considering that once upon a time, I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to have kids!
I am grateful that I am still me. Motherhood has changed me in many ways, but I think it’s made me better, stronger and more interesting. I may not go to the trendiest restaurants or the most exotic vacation destinations anymore, and I may wear yoga pants way too frequently, but I am a more whole version of the old me. And I am incredibly grateful when I actually remember that.
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