Monday, March 5, 2012

The Struggle That French Moms May Never Know - Part II

Continued from Part I

1) Feed yourself like a grown-up. No nutrition lesson here. I'm talking about using adult tableware. Are you drinking out of a brightly-colored plastic cup that your kids would find pleasing? Or are you using that over-sized (insert your team's name here) cup that your husband got free with his beer at the last visit to the stadium? Stop it. Get one of the good glasses down from the top shelf where it's been collecting dust (wipe it off) and use it! Did your cereal bowl this morning have cartoon characters on it? Try using one of the nice bowls tomorrow. Ditto plates and silverware. Take it a step further and get a special piece just for you - something that reflects your style and personality. Mine's a pretty bowl and I use it for everything from ice cream to Chinese take-out. And the whole house knows it's mine, all mine. I don't use it all the time, but when I do, it really does feel like I'm treating myself to a little something special.

2) Along the same lines, let yourself enjoy something womanly. "Womanly" implies that it's not something for you to share with your kids or your husband. And it's not about getting alone time for you to veg on the couch in your sweats. It's about giving a nod to the woman you may have forgotten you are! For me, it's painting my toenails. This feels especially decadent during the long, northeast winter months when toes are most often hiding out in socks and boots. There's just something about knowing that, underneath it all, my toes are a-twinklin' and nobody knows it but me. Maybe you haven't updated your hair in a while - get a new look! Or take advantage of that Victoria's Secret coupon you got in the mail and get some pretty new unmentionables. Or, if you haven't enjoyed a bath since you started giving them to your kids, get to know that luxury again. And not with the kids' berry-scented bubble bath and all the bathroom lights a-blazing, either. Try some bath oils, soak by candlelight, play some music . And close your eyes, for Pete's sake, and relax. Even 15 minutes of this is a beautiful thing. Yes, you do have time. I had a private bath last weekend for the first time in probably 10 years - no exaggeration. The kids were tucked in for the night, I had nothing left to do, nowhere to go and no time constraints. My super-thoughtful husband interrupted me just once - to deliver a glass of wine - and then left me to my leisure. I am also not exaggerating when I say it was downright heavenly.

3) Get a hobby. Seriously. If someone asks you, "What do you like to do in your spare time?" and your answer is either sleep, watch TV, or hop on the Internet (and YES, I'm talking also about Facebook!), then you probably need to adopt some kind of productive pasttime. Go creative - make cards or cakes or paintings or music. Go healthy - walk, jog, kickbox, anything. Do something new - learn to fish, volunteer in town, start researching your family geneaology and see how far back you can go. A hobby doesn't necessarily have a point. It's supposed to be something just for you, just because you enjoy it. Some call it personal enrichment. Others call it living.

4) Stay relevant. Not that mom-ming shouldn't be the most important thing in your universe, but if you can't carry on a discussion with other people without either mentioning your kids or bringing every topic back around to how it relates to your kids, you've lost touch. Keep on top of current events. You've seen the headlines, now get the details: what is this "fracking" thing is and why does it have everyone so riled? What's going on with the Occupy movement? What are SOPA and PIPA and why did they make the Internet all crazy one day last month? What did that cruise ship captain have to say for himself? It's an election year - who are the candidates and what platforms are they supporting? In the process of learning about this stuff, it's impossible not to be exposed to many, many different perspectives. Gather and consider this wealth of information and form opinions. If you have made an informed opinion (not one that you adopted from someone else), it means you that you have an understanding of how the world works and your place in it. Not only does this do wonders for your sense of esteem and belonging , but it also arms you with fresh and interesting things to talk about when adult discussion breaks out.

Of course, I know lots of moms who always had a handle on it. Those are the ones who inspired me to get back into the swing of things. And I know moms who aren't ready yet to wear any other hat than the MOM hat they wear so well. I'm just glad to have found and to pass along that it is possible for moms to get back to being "real people", too!

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