Do you like to read? Do you have a favorite hobby? A favorite TV show? Do you like to have a “date night” with your significant other, or a “girls night out” with all your best friends? Every time you indulge in your favorite activity do you happen to feel a little guilty? More than a little guilt? Well, if you answered yes, I can relate.
I think all parents feel some guilt when they do something for themselves and step out of the parenting role. This can be intensified when you have a child with a visual impairment. I spend a lot of time teaching Eddie and simply being his mom and I often think about the goals yet to be accomplished and how much teaching and parenting sits ahead of us. Really thinking about that “to-do” list could surely trigger a full-out panic attack.
There is one way that I avoid these melt-downs. I do something for me. I admit it openly and honestly. I have a few hobbies that I cherish, especially quilting. I love to read for leisure…that’s right…leisure. This means ignoring my dozens of books about parenting, self-help, or tactics for special-needs children. I set that pile aside and break out my latest “book club” read. Yes, I am in a book club, a quilting group, and occasionally enjoy an evening with my friends.
These activities do take up some of my time that could be devoted to my children, but honestly I think that is OK. My aunt, and close confident, once told me openly that her love of quilting also took away time from her children when they were young. She also said, “I was a better mom because of it.” I completely agree with her.
There are days when I am up to my ears in diapers, therapy goals, phone calls, doctor appointments, teacher conferences, etc. and I feel myself becoming overwhelmed. When all I want to do is either cry or take a nap, I know it is crucial to have some “me time”. Anxiety and stress is not easily hidden from children and as I’m sure most of us know, they pick up on it fast. Pretty soon all our emotions are escalating and nobody is happy.
In the interest of my children, I will stop feeling a little guilty. I will enjoy my favorite things and know that one day I can share those hobbies with my kids. I will keep my own identity for myself, for my children, and even my husband. Frankly, sometimes he’s begging me to go to my sewing room. He also understands that to be a good parent, sometimes we have to step back and do something for ourselves.