I can’t remember what triggered it. Was it one of those times my kids wouldn’t let me go to the bathroom? Or when they woke me up while I was sleeping? Or maybe when they ate my piece of chocolate after they ate their own? What I do remember is that I suddenly lost control and shouted out, “Mommy is only human!”
Frustrated, I looked at their confused faces. Then it dawned on me: this information was new to everyone, including me.
It wasn’t always like that. I thought about the time when we lived in Mexico and I only had my eldest son. I wanted to be a housewife, so I quit my full-time job when I was eight months pregnant. But when my son was four months old, I started an online study advice course and before my son celebrated his first birthday, I had my first client.
I was a wife, mother, student and also a starting entrepreneur. And with so much family around me in Mexico, I was also a devoted daughter who helped her mother pick out a dress and a dutiful daughter-in-law who invariably attended weekly family visits. I was also a sister, granddaughter, niece, and friend. Sometimes, when I wasn’t busy with my social life, study or work, I even found the time to play sports.
I also had a resident helper. A great woman who cleaned the house, cooked and took care of my son from time to time. She was a great reason why I could lead such a versatile life.
Everything changed when we moved to Switzerland. By the time I lost control, we had been living there for two years. My eldest son was four, my second son was 18 months and I was pregnant with my third.
I had no family on this side of the ocean, except for my husband who worked more than 40 hours a week and traveled a lot. I had no nanny. And childcare was prohibitively expensive, just like the cleaning lady who came once a week.
I can’t say I’m proud of yelling at my kids. But I am proud of the moment of revelation. Although I’ve been going on like this for two years, I realized I couldn’t go on like this. I had to find a way to put my needs back on the map – otherwise my husband and children would have to come and see me in my home port in Mexico.
Around that time, I was reading a self-help book in which the author stated that self-love is the highest form of love. If you want to give the best of yourself to the people you love, you must first learn to love yourself.
This immediately appealed to me. On my own, on this side of the ocean, no one would make me put my needs first. And if Mom wasn’t in her right mind, everyone would suffer.
That was the day I signed up for a yoga class every Wednesday night. My husband rarely came home before 7:00 p.m., but I firmly told him to be home early on Wednesdays.
After a while, I switched from yoga to tennis, then to zumba. Eventually, I found the time to take on more work, usually when the children were in bed. Despite my exhausting task of motherhood, this gave me plenty of energy.
A few years later, I took online classes again. Although my life looked totally different than in Mexico, I gradually found a way to be a versatile woman again. And my whole family benefited from it.
Thanks to the frenzy of motherhood, I still have moments when I put my needs down for weeks, or even months. But then I think of my life-changing revelation and call the babysitter, so I have a few hours to focus on myself again.
As for the chocolate, I don’t let my children eat my piece anymore. Call me selfish, but mommy also loves chocolate. And mommy’s only human.