Celebrity blogger Jenna von Oy is a new mama!
Best known for her roles as Six on Blossom and Stevie on The Parkers, von Oy is also a musician who has released two albums and is set to publish a book, The Betweeners.
In her latest blog, von Oy reflects on the important of taking time for yourself.
Gray and I – attached at the hip! – Courtesy Jenna von Oy
Any mom who tells you she absolutely never has alone time is either lying or damn-near ready to be fitted for her straightjacket! I must admit it is getting increasingly more difficult to find time for myself in the midst of the madness. Now that Gray is almost six months old, it seems as though her naptime is getting shorter and shorter with each day that passes. Consequently, it is difficult to attend to my daily “chores.”
There are mornings I long for a shower so badly that I could wail my way through an entire box of tissue, though I concede it might be better spent cleaning off the drool and snot. And while I’m certain the lingering Eau de Spit-up is attractive all on its own, some days I simply look in the mirror, huff audibly, and decide a combination of deodorant and perfume will just have to do.
It’s the perfect accompaniment to my sweatpants, T-shirt, and un-brushed hair, I suppose. (I might have refrained from admitting all of that aloud, if I didn’t suspect many of you could say the same!)
We’ve all seen the candid photographs of celebrities out shopping with their kids, nursing a latte in one hand while pushing a stroller with the other. I am befuddled by the folks who manage to look eternally composed during those outings! Apparently, I am not a card-carrying member of the calm, cool and collected club. I’m thankful the paparazzi aren’t as prevalent here in Nashville, as I undoubtedly wouldn’t fair as well.
But it’s the life of a mother, isn’t it? It’s wonderful and, simultaneously, dirty work. And it’s no secret that I love it, despite my current inability to remain clean for longer than two consecutive minutes. If showering is so abysmally tough to conjure up the time for, exercising the right to have some “mommy me-time” is as farfetched as a cow jumping over the moon. (Or anything jumping over the moon, for that matter…)
But it’s an absolute necessity — for all of us! None of us is exempt from the urge to take a few moments to regroup. Warning: our sanity may be at stake if we don’t!
I know, I know, “me-time” sounds like a miracle, to say the least … something akin to winning the lottery twice or seeing the Virgin Mary on a loaf of Wonder bread. If shaving my legs has become a thing of the past, you ask, how can I possibly find time to do something relaxing such as curling up with a good novel or sipping tea in front of the bay window? The simple (but, as you know, not so simple at all) answer is: you make time. For your sake and the sake of your children!
I certainly don’t purport to be mother-of-the-year, nor am I an authority on the subject; I just know my own innate thirst for serenity. It’s imperative. Consider it this way: a car requires gas or it risks stalling in the middle of a busy intersection, right? Without refueling, I find myself doing much the same thing. My frustration levels peak and I fear I can’t be an effective parent.
Mind you, I’m painfully aware that this is easier said than done. Like most of you out there, I don’t have a nanny or easily found babysitters. My parents and in-laws don’t live close enough to stop by at a moment’s notice so they can take care of Gray while I “luxuriate.” Not to mention, separation anxiety has begun to rear its ugly head lately — for both Gray and I. I barely have enough time to get my work done, much less rest!
I am my child’s full-time guardian, so my time is devoted to her … and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Having the ability to spend each day with Gray is something I feel both blessed and passionate about. But everyone has a desire for some time to themselves, including yours truly, and I expect that the future will prove it harder and harder to come by.
How would you bide your time if you had one hour a day to do anything you wish? Forget laundry, or sweeping the floor, or feeding the dogs, or eating lunch. Those are all necessities. I’m referring to one solid hour for something that makes you take a deep breath and unwind.
Writing my blog – Courtesy Jenna von Oy
If I had my druthers, I might spend my me-time sipping a gorgeous glass of Chateau Margaux and whipping up a Cassoulet. Cooking is my therapy, so I’d chop and mince to my heart’s content! I might light some candles and draw a bubble bath, hit up the vintage stores, pen a new song, or work on editing my book for publication (which, sadly, I’ve been neglecting for months now). I might even knit a shawl or begin a photography project.
It all sounds dreamy but, alas, I know none of those things are in the cards any time soon. Don’t get me wrong — my husband is amazing at taking care of our little one for a while in the evenings so I can get a few things accomplished — but lo’ and behold, that obligatory shower generally wins out in the election process! I imagine you can sympathize.
And I don’t want to ignore the fact that my husband should have some downtime as well. He gets up at 5:00 every morning and works until 5:00 in the evening. Daddies need quiet time too! Sometimes, to take the edge off, we try to combine household projects with activities we enjoy.
For instance, Brad often fires up his iPod with a favorite music list and mows the lawn. Combining the outdoors with tunes and physical labor makes him zone out blissfully. Other times, he irons while watching political discourse on his computer. Of course, I can’t swear this relaxes him, per se. I’m often surprised his work shirts don’t have holes burned into them in the shape of certain outspoken, ostentatious commentators. That said, at least he’s found a way to enjoy the mundane task at hand.
My mom recently flew in to visit us for two weeks and I can’t express how grateful I was for her assistance. She offered that my husband and I take advantage of her presence by doing a few things for ourselves. As heartbreaking as it was to leave our daughter for an hour or two, we took her up on it and went on a beautiful dinner date.
I also got to do something special that I’ve been hungering for … I had a massage!!!! I’d set aside some money I received for my birthday in May, and swore I’d eventually get around to using it for that purpose alone. Talk about quality “me-time!” I almost wept with relief as the massage therapist worked my shoulders and back. Breastfeeding definitely takes its toll! It was an incredible blessing to enjoy such an extravagance, and I can’t thank my mom enough for making it possible.
It has been a bit of a struggle, but I’m learning to appreciate and accept the help that is offered to me. I want to be Supermom, but I know sometimes that means allocating some time to concentrate on my own peace of mind. I’m often too quick to turn down proposals of assistance, because I fret about taking advantage of friends or family. I worry it means I “can’t handle” my own life. But that’s probably just my ego talking.
Hearing about a growing number of women with postpartum depression makes me recognize my own demand for quietude. Reserving personal time for my needs is crucial for my health and helps to cut down on my stress level. This means I can be a better mother to my daughter and a more supportive wife to my husband.
I’m not even remotely claiming to be a doctor, but I imagine most of them would be avid proponents of mommy me-time … even when it is tough to come by. Sometimes I think the most selfless thing you can do is concentrate on yourself for a few minutes. It may seem counterintuitive, but it allows you to attack the day with a sense of calm. I can certainly speak to that. I know I’m a more confident and even-keeled parent when I have a few minutes to recharge my emotional batteries!
In a way, contributing to this blog (as well as my weekly blog, The Cradle Chronicles) has become an integral part of my me-time maintenance. I covet the moments I am able to devote to purging my thoughts onto paper. If you’re wondering why my posts are typically so long-winded, there’s your answer! I long for the moments spent furiously typing away on my laptop. This has become a comforting creative outlet that I treasure, and I appreciate you being a part of it with me.
Reading with Ruby – Courtesy Jenna von Oy
Wishing you all a few moments of blissful respite this week…
– Jenna von Oy