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April 05, 2010

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I have five kids, baby to teen, and to the sister with her hard-won child, I beg to differ: I am in the trenches. trenches can cover lots of ground. And until you've become a parent (or guardian or whatever) there is utterly no way of having any freaking clue about what it takes.

Yes, as a mother of two I agree that as mothers we do have to find time for ourselves if at all possible. Sometimes it does not require us to leave the house all the time, but we need our alone time if for no more than 20mins. Sometimes it requires us to get up a little earlier or go to bed a little later, but there is nothing like the peace of a quiet house to just get a breather for you. And I am one who firmly believe that if you do not have children yourself, there is nothing you can really impart to me.

Working in a birth center, we'd have new moms who specifically would request to speak with a nurse who is a mom. They didn't think a nurse without kids would understand what she was going through. I felt bad for my fellow nurses without kids - they really don't know what it's like to experience what these women are going through.

I've had so much assvice thrown my way over five and a half years - from parents and non-parents alike - that very little offends me anymore. Sure, Jillian's challenge may have been poorly worded, but the intention was good. Look for the nugget of truth or idea to ponder and ignore the rest.

i realized rather late in the game that to optimize your chances of raising healthy happy kids is to be a healthy happy parent. that being said, everyone has varying degrees of personal needs and limits and it's about balancing the various needs. no two parents or kids are exactly alike. i won't pretend to know what another parent's needs are, nor would i want someone else (least of whom, a non-parent) to decide how much "me" time i need to reach that balance. but i also understand the crux of her message, which is valid -- that parents (esp. moms) often neglect their own needs in tending to their kids and we need to be reminded to tend to our own needs early and often as well. to take the message beyond this point is being counter-productive, IMHO. :)

@Julie

I never meant to say I had it rougher. Just saying I've been both... childless & a parent, and the childless part was rougher. Treatments, daily injections, heartbreak, etc.

I do realize this is a place to vent about motherhood. I also realize motherhood is hard! I'm just saying that complaining about difficult day to day life is one thing, calling it the trenches is another.

Here's offensive for you: I prefer advice from pediatricians who have kids themselves for the exact same reason.

I worked in the field of child development/childcare for nearly 20 years before I had my first child at 40. I took care of thousands of children 0-6 years old for years on end. I also was extremely close to all my nieces and nephews. Once I had my son, I realized that as experienced as I was with children, being a parent was just different. Very different. Just like I don't know what it's like to be a grandparent yet, I didn't know what it was like to be a parent until i actually became one. Really. Peace.

Funny because just last night I realized that I should probably start brushing my hair again now that baby #2 is about to turn 1 year old, sleeps well when he isn't teething or transitioning, and baby #1 can finally play by herself at age 2.5! ;).

I think the biggest breakthrough I had as a parent was after my little one was born. I decided to stay home with both kids full-time after my maternity leave was up. And all of a sudden I realized that the three of us home during the day were building our life together. That meant that I had to get their needs met first and foremost, and keep the house reasonably sanitary, but also that this was going to be IT seven days a week from now on. No more job five days a week for my me-time, then frantic focus on the kid(s) on the weekend. I realized that I had to find a way to make as many days as I could palatable for all of us including me. There are still days like today where the baby is teething and my toddler is crabby and everyone is needy, and I will have kid(s) hanging off me and needing me until they go to bed tonight. But hopefully tomorrow will be better and I will throw them in the stroller whether they want to or not, and walk along a loud street where I feel I am off mom duty for a while. I feel fortunate that I had the experience of working first, and then a giant transition to mom of 2 and sahm, to give me this epiphany. And again, let me qualify that I get very little me time... To me, putting myself first actually just means finding my own way to enjoy part of the day.

One last thing - I hear you, @Emily, that not being able to have a baby is probably the trenches. That doesn't make parenthood any less hard for lots of people, and a blog called "motherhood uncensored" is probably a pretty safe place for us to let loose if we have to! It's not fair to tell other parents that we don't have it rough just because you had it rougher. That being said, I do appreciate your different perspective on things.

Last night I worked until 2:30 am because
1) I own my own business
2) My 3 year old took 5 hours to fall asleep last night therefore everything I usually do after 7:30 was pushed until 12:30 am

I think the last time I've showered was Sunday morning.

If I go take a bubble bath, I may fall asleep and drown.

If I had Jillian's salary, I might be able to afford more child care. And a trainer. And someone to do the 13 loads of laundry I did on Sunday.

Sadly when I do have 24 hours of me time, all I want to do is sleep in, taking up the entire bed; watch TV that isn't Disney and eat as much ice cream and cookies as possible without hiding.

Maybe Jillian has a point, I need more ME days. Ha.

I'm thankful to people like Jillian who remind us that there's something important we've been meaning to do, and just put off, and off, and off... It doesn't really matter whether or not she's a mother: it doesn't take years of parenting to figure out that a lot of mothers never get around to doing something for themselves and that they'd be happier if they did. It just takes someone who cares, and who wants to help. I didn't see her tweet, but I'm just going to act on it in the next 24 hours.

Is this why you never take my valuable advice about duct tape and cages?

I think parents (I am one) have to stop thinking of themselves being in the 'trenches'. Yes, parenting is hard. Yes it's impossible to find time for yourself. But you know what? I come from a place that involved years, over 25K, heartache, to become a parent. Ladies, I know it's rough, but you're not in the trenches. NOT being able to have a child is the trenches folks.

That being said, I don't think Jillian meant 24 hours literally. I also don't think she really has an idea how hard it is to find time for yourself as a mother. But you know what? I take her comment with a grain of salt. I will take the good I need to take from her comment (I need to take more time for myself, even if it's 20 minutes) and am not offended whatsoever about her lack of knowledge about what parenting is really like.

Because there are more important things to be concerned about in life than getting all worked up about comments like that. More important things like the child/children that light up our lives every day and that we are LUCKY to have. More important things like trying to get some sleep. Trying to get a teeny workout in while the kid(s) is/are sleeping...

Heather, I disagree that I'm making sweeping generalizations about non-parents. There are ALWAYS exceptions to everything; I'm not sure that has to be stated.

There will always be someone who was the oldest of 8 kids and had parents that died and then had to care for his/her siblings and can relate to being a parent without having kids.

The point here was that someone with no kids was making a pretty hefty challenge for parents - something that most parents probably would not say due to the near impossibility of it.

However, there is a lesson to be taken from what she's saying, as well as from statements from folks, like Jillian, who may not have kids but may have important points to offer.

I will say that in the mental health/counseling world, many patients, particularly addicts, do not respond to therapists who are not in recovery themselves. For most of them, they feel like empathy is not enough. I don't necessarily liken parenting to therapy, but I think there is something to be said about someone offering advice from where they have no actual experience.

Boy, some people are easily offended. I tell myself all the time that I need to be taking better care of myself, but do I? No. Jillian's challenge is a legitimate one. You don't have to be a mom to know that we put ourselves last. That's just part of being a woman. I recognize that there are moms who do make time to take care of themselves, so why can't I? I have lots of excuses, but what it comes down to is: the only thing stopping me is me.

I'll never take offense at someone's suggestion on how I can treat myself better. I may not take their advice, but, presuming the advice came from a well-intentioned place, I wouldn't get my knickers in a knot over it.

To me, it's like a short stout woman telling me I look good in a pair of tall skinny jeans. She's never been in my pants and probably never will be (unless she has a reaaly awesome growth spurt).

Sometimes the best thing we can do is smile and say thank you.

Gosh, Kristen. I find this post offensive - not I'm going to rant and rave about it, offensive - but I will say that making sweeping generalizations about non-parents is unnecessary. Just as you wouldn't like if I made sweeping generalizations about mothers.

If Jillian were the sort who said, "We should all make me-time, even for busy Mommy's," in a gentle, soothing voice, I don't think she would have gotten the kind of ire she does. If some pretty fluffy blond lady were in her yoga pants on TV surrounded by candles next to a gently-babbling brook, the message would be embraced whole-heartedly by mom's everywhere. Revelation! I should focus on my self before I run myself down so much, I'm actually hurting my kids more than helping!

Jillian can be a little abbrasive. If some lady with rock-hard abs is saying, "C'mon, buddy! Just 24 hours of focusing on you! It's a challenge, buddy!" it's just not the same. You have to dole out the "focus on you" entree with a healthy side of sugar and granola, or people blow up like it's the end of the world.

back when i had 2 in diapers and one on the way and found days where we all were crying, I came to the realization that i can't be the be-all, end-all mom to my children if i don't give myself a bigger block of me time that is more than just when i am going potty or taking a shower with kids barging in or pounding on the door calling/crying my name out loud. of course it took a life and death health crisis, not mine but my unborn child, to sideline me for 99 days, force me stay in bed and realize that i have to sometimes give a little time just for me. there wasn't much else i could do during those long days, weeks, months of complete bedrest except think. after my epiphany i realized that i must carve out me-time, i must be a little selfish in order to give, especially when my kids have sucked me dry. i had that epiphany 14 years ago and even now i still have to remind myself literally everyday to give a little bit of that 24 hour day to me. sure some of my kids are older moms of babies and preschoolers might say but trust me, the neediness of our kids never really goes away, sometimes it even increases as they get older and juggling that with the needs of my child with special medical and developmental needs and the needs of the grandbaby i agree to watch for my 1st born (go back to the part where it seems like our kids' needs increase as they get older) and well, it is ALWAYS a challenge to find my time. but i do, i must, i have no choice not if i want to be or try to be a good mom, a good wife, a good grandmom, a good friend.
i get it Jillian.

Oh, brother! @Goon squad there's nothing offensive about what she said. I am mom who works and I do know what I'm talking about. Being parent doesn't mean you can't find time for yourself you can but it seems many moms want to play the martyr.

I'll take 24 hours for myself if she'll spend 24 hours potty training my kid -- it's not that hard, the kid is already poop trained -- it's just pee duty. As every hour on the hour or so if she needs to pee -- deal?

I mean .. if she cared about me she'd do it, right?

Does taking my 24 hours mean I can let my kid roll around in poop all day? Because then I'm totally on board. Seriously, though, her message is a good one ... perhaps she should have considered her audience a little more carefully (as illustrated by the sleep-and-exercise-deprived, yoga-pants-wearing moms who "shredded" her on FB).

Sure, I wish I could have 24 consecutive hours of "me" - but even if I did, the resulting mess that I'd have to clean up later wouldn't be worth it. I definitely agree it is important to schedule in some time to "take care of Mama" since without a healthy mom, the kids will end up suffering. I can understand both how Jillian meant her challenge to be taken, and how those who are truly overwhelmed with their other duties perceived it.

I took it to mean "Sometime in the next day spend some time putting your needs first" which, even with 2 kids I don't find that hard to do. But then ever since they were born I have made sure I get an hour alone time ever day my husband is not out of town. And my gym has child care, which was a life saver after DS2 was born.

I found the holier-than-thou comment particularly infuriating. Let's puncture the balloon and refuse to find good intent within the message.

Did Jillian likely mean 24 consecutive hours, yeah. But that's because she has no clue, not because she's mean or because she meant to offend.

I honestly feel that one thing we, as moms, tend to do is get defensive far too quickly and take offense even when none is intended.

It's definitely something that I'm working on because I know I do it.

I understand what Jillian meant, but obviously she doesn't have a clue. I find what she said offensive because of the obvious ignorance about what being a parent actually involves.

That being said, can't we just say she doesn't know shit and move on? Yes, we need to think about ourselves too and yes, non-parents can give us really good advice, but in the time when we can say stupid shit to 18,000 all at once (probably more in Jillian's case) sometimes we should all take a breath before hitting enter.

Can I split my 24 hours over the course of like 20 days or so in little increments?

Personally I think it is an awesome idea. A little unrealistic, but it is good to have goals.

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