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I'm A Selfish Mom and I'm Unashamed

The other week my in-laws came over to watch my daughter so my husband and I could get out of the house. No, we weren't going to the theater for the latest blockbuster film. No, we weren't going out for a romantic meal at that nice restaurant around the corner. No, we weren't going anywhere together. Screw date night.

Instead, I was headed out to a local bar/restaurant with an old friend in order to engage in intelligent conversation and beer consumption. And Michael was going to band practice.

Because that's how we roll.

Listen. I'm a work-at-home mom who doesn't pay for child care. So on any given day, I juggle eleventy-billion tasks that may or may not also include a toddler music class or a Mommy and Me story time or the need to wrestle my daughter to the ground because she is playing with the cat water or putting her favorite belongings into the trash.

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Motherhood is hard, especially because my daughter has me wrapped around her tiny, adorable finger.

It's because of this that my husband and I often put ourselves before our relationship.

"Do you think maybe we don't spend enough quality time together as a couple?" I asked Michael the other month as we sat beside each other in bed, him reading a comic book on his iPad, me reading the latest book club pick. My leg hairs were impressively long at this point because it was winter and I had stopped caring about things like being attractive.

"I think it's okay," he said. "I feel so busy all the time. Sometimes I just need to decompress."

"I feel the same way," I said.

And then we turned back to our books and continued ignoring each other.

But I still make sure to put myself first. I need to take care of me however I can. Because otherwise I am useless.

And so we grab hold of life where we can. Because while our daughter is the love of our lives, neither of us believes we should stop living our previous lives just because we became parents.

Within two months of new motherhood, I returned to a regular (though slightly curtailed) yoga practice. Within three months, I threw myself even more fully into my work, pushing to advance my writing career and even going away on a yoga and writing retreat to breathe new life into an old book project. One year in, I joined a book club and began attending the meetings of a local writers' group.

At this point, I think I can say that I'm living an even fuller life than the one I had before.

Yes, my daughter is important to me. Yes, I am constantly terrified of all the things that might hurt her and, as a result, feel tempted to helicopter parent her all the way into adulthood.

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But I still make sure to put myself first. I need to take care of me however I can. Because otherwise I am useless. And I know how it looks, but I don't feel guilty about making myself a priority.

OK, I don't always feel guilty.

Because I need this.

I need to hide in my home office while eating that ice cream bar so that my daughter doesn't beg me to share with her.

I need to take the longest shower on the face of the planet while my daughter hovers outside, begging to play with her washcloth.

I need to go to my weekly writers' group meetings so that I remember how to converse with other human beings and maybe stop muttering to myself in the supermarket so much.

I need all of it.

This is a battle cry, you guys. For selfishness.

Photograph by: Twenty20

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