“I was thinking of buying an actual lunchbox,” I whispered to my husband as I packed my lunch into an old grocery bag. “And maybe sunscreen? I thought I would also get a box of tea…it’s so cold at work.”
“That sounds like a great idea. Do what you need to do,” he replied. And then, “Um, you know you don’t need to ask me, right?”
“Yeah, but I…” I trailed off, unsure of how to finish that thought.
We let it go as just a funny little interaction, but it wasn’t quite finished for me. After that conversation, I noticed that the questions are everywhere, like a reflex.
Can I take a shower now?
Can I practice yoga tonight?
Can I go check my email?
Can I draw tonight?
The answer is always the same, “You don’t need to ask.”
So, what’s with all the questions?
It’s not a husband thing. He’s never once expected me to ask for permission for things like that. Overspending? Probably not. A lunchbox is hardly breaking the bank. Frivolous? That doesn’t seem right. These seemed like pretty practical purchases. Greedy? Self-centered? Those weren’t it, either. So why did I feel so undeserving, and whose permission was I really seeking?
I decided to get curious and observe, and when I did there was no mistaking what this was about. This was about me and me. This whole asking-for-permission business was about what I think I’m worth, what I allow myself to do, and how I show myself that I care about me. It’s a self-caring problem, and it isn’t new.
Becoming a mom was like bringing home a bundle of all kinds of things. A bundle of joy, sure, but also a bundle of needs, pressures, and expectations. Five years ago, when I sat in my hospital room holding the tiniest person I’d ever seen, I had no idea what this all meant. I didn’t know what this would actually look like in real life, and I sure didn’t know who I was as a mom.
What I did have was a lifetime of input on what motherhood was supposed to look like without instructions on making it work for me. So I did everything I could to give my kids a happy life going by what I thought I knew. They have everything they need, but I guess I overlooked one thing. In an effort to be a good mom, I haven’t always been so good to myself.
Maybe it’s a phase all moms go through: the mom years. You know, the years when you’re figuring out what it means to be called “Mom.”
These are the years you don’t know how to dress your new body. When your time belongs to the tiny human(s) you…