Friday, October 23, 2009


Among the many things I hadn't anticipated about motherhood is the guilt. Every day I am plagued with it. Each time I want to take a few extra minutes in the shower to (gasp!) shave my legs, it's there. When I take two minutes to throw some make-up on my haggard face, it's there. If I use five minutes to jot down a blog or write a quick email, it's there - the nagging voice in the back of my head, the waggling finger tsk-tsk-ing me into a shameful panic. Am I talking to him enough? Am I stimulating his brain sufficiently? Should we play more developmental games? Am I taking him out in public enough/too much?

With the brief exception of bathroom breaks and the occasional shower, I am with Carter every moment of the day. On the rare occasions that he naps for more than ten minutes at a time, I find myself racing around the apartment, using the fleeting opportunity to wash the dirty dishes in the sink, toss in a load of laundry, take out the trash, etc. When he is awake, I am either holding him or playing with him - singing, talking, feeding, having tummy time. I try to make every moment of the day count, to pack in as much love, affection and attention as I can, but sometimes I am so exhausted that I will actually pass out in the middle of playtime, dozing off on the nursery floor next to Carter's beloved jungle play gym as the kiddie melody jingles in my mind, or nodding off in the middle of breastfeeding, my head sagging down onto his little belly.

Sometimes I try to combat the exhaustion by taking some time to myself - putting Carter in the swing or his bouncy chair while I relax on the couch with a cup of tea and the remote. He'll let out a little squawk of protest, and that's when the guilt begins anew and I mentally chastise myself for needing ten minutes to myself.

In my previous life before I became a mother, I would listen to moms talk about not having time for themselves, how there aren't enough hours in the day, how challenging it is, and think Whiny bitches. What could possibly be so hard? Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby eat my words. Karma is a cruel wench indeed.

I know that I will get over this. I am a good mother, and am doing everything I can to make my baby grow strong and healthy, and to show him how much he is loved. Every so often, I remind myself that I was a woman before I became a mother, and I am still a woman now, one who deserves to treat herself as well as she treats those she loves.

With that mantra running through my head, last night I did something amazing. I left Carter with my husband and a bottle of breastmilk, and left the house for TWO HOURS - by far the longest I've been away from him since his birth. I went straight to the nail salon and got the most amazing pedicure of my life - I hadn't had one since well before I got pregnant, since I didn't wear polish during my pregnancy and have been living with janky polishless toes for almost a year. Afterwards I made a Target run for breastfeeding pads and other mom-essentials, and even spent a ridiculous amount of time browsing the accessories aisles without a slight bit of guilt. I arrived home to find my little boy dozing peacefully in daddy's arms, and all was right in the world.

Today, I look down at my sparkling red toes and am reminded that I am entitled to a few minutes to myself. My days may be spent changing diapers, breastfeeding, burping, bathing, singing "The Wheels on the Bus" and cuddling my baby boy, but my fancy toes remind me that not only am I a mother, I am a woman.

There may always be guilt, but there will also always be pedicures. And by damn, I will be one mama with nice toes.