I don't know if I am particularly sensitive because its that time of the month, because I haven't had a really good nights sleep in eons, or because I have some working Mommy guilt--but when two people made the same comment lately it twanged a nerve. It wasn't a deep hurt, it was just one of those things that you end up thinking about later and can't help but wonder--was that a compliment or a put down? Was it there intention or were my own issues surfacing.
On both occasions friends have made a comment about me losing weight and asked what I was doing, my reply little bit of diet and a lot of exercise. Both of them responded, "its so nice you can take time to put yourself first." The first time I found myself denying that I was putting myself first--telling the person how I've been going to the gym first thing in the morning or at lunch time. She reiterated that she thought it was a good thing that I was taking care of myself and she often marveled at how I got everything done. She also told me she wasn't surprised at my inability to sleep or recent bout of forgetfulness. I laughed and told her that I didn't feel that way, I know its not a competition but I know so many people who seem to do so much more AND they have a clean house. (Which makes me look really forward to my next review assignment Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box: Cut Yourself Some Slack (and Raise Great Kids) in the Age of Extreme Parenting by Ann Dunnewold).
The second person who made the comment was a dear friend who is a stay at home Mom with 3 girls, two in school and an infant. I told her that I was really hoping that in addition to getting something out of it for myself, I am setting a good example for my girls--both that exercise is important AND that its important to take care of ourselves. She said of course, soon after I drifted away. Ever since I've been pondering the comments (and praying that this internal debate isn't one that keeps me up all night). I really didn't think of taking time to exercise as putting myself first, I really see it as something for all of us, it keeps my stress level down, hopefully it keeps me healthy so I can take care of everyone else, and hopefully my girls learn that exercise is something you can fit into your life.
It has had me thinking about the Mommy Wars as well. Us vs. them. Good vs. bad. Stay at home vs. working outside the home. And on and on and on and on. I am a little amazed that those two comments about putting myself first led me to try and defend myself, figure out how to deny I was committing that particular sin, or feel guilty about spending time at the gym.
So, after much rolling around in my head I'm declaring it, YES, I am putting myself first for a few hours a week. I am proudly going to the gym and taking care of myself. Sometimes I drag my kids along and they have fun with other kids, sometimes I get up at the crack of dawn, and sometimes I sneak out at lunch to get it done. Hopefully by putting myself first for those few hours I am better at taking care of everyone else the rest of the time. Hopefully I'll be around a little longer to do it. And I hope when my girls are grown up, they will remember that I made time to take care of myself, that it gave them new experiences and a Mom who was happier and healthier.
Update: Check out my review of Let's Get Ready for First Grade! over at Maven Says and head over to Parent Bloggers Network for a chance to win your own copy.