I Want

posted in: Motherhood 90 comments

Yesterday, I exchanged emails with Kir, who very kindly asked me how I was.

I’m pretty sure she did not expect my verbal diarrhea-like reply, where I told her how I was struggling to find balance and rhythm with two kids. But gracious as she always is, Kir took my words and offered me her heart. Bless you, my friend.

From that conversation, I found myself telling her that this (and I quote directly from my email):

“I want to go workout. I want to go eat ice cream by myself. I want to have coffee with a friend for two hours without worrying about anyone.

I also want to be with my baby, soaking it all in because he’s my last baby. I want to make him smile all day and inhale his gorgeous baby smell. I want to go swimming with my toddler. I want to play trains with him. I want to cuddle with him after he wakes up from his nap and sing him Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Is it selfish? I don’t know. I veer from feeling “Yes, I can and should have wants,” – to “My children need to come first. Always.”

A jug fills drop by drop. ~ Buddha

My life jug is filling up daily with the joy of my children. Despite the challenges, the exhaustion, the guilt – they fill my jug.

To be whole though, I feel the need to fill this jug myself. By doing things I love. By looking after myself physically, mentally and emotionally.

So perhaps I have my answer.

It’s not selfish. It’s just jug-filling.

See how I rationalize things?

Little White Whale

My friend Sarah of little white whale, a gorgeous blog filled with her beautiful pictures (she’s a photographer!) and thought-provoking words, provided me with the inspiration for this post, with that quote from Buddha. It’s her weekly  the spill linky. You should check it out.

How would you fill your jug of life?

Link up with Galit and I for Memories Captured here between June 18-22 (linky closes at 9pm Eastern), and you could win a *Sony Bloggie video camera for one lucky linker, thanks to our wonderful sponsor, ThisLife!! ThisLife is the best home online for all your photos and videos. It’s the best place to save all your captured memories in one place, from your camera, phone and social networks. You can even share an account with someone else (like your spouse). Their facial recognition capability is awesome AND they even have iPhone and iPad apps so you can take photos and store them on the go. If you haven’t already, sign up for a free beta account with ThisLife now. (*color of actual camera for the winner may vary)

Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, Alison traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison's writing has been featured on Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, and DrGreene.com. She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. In 2012, she founded Little Love Media, a social media consultancy specializing in blog book tours, and because she doesn’t sleep, is an editor at BonBon Break, an online magazine. Alison lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins).

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  • June 22, 2012 angela

    You are NOT selfish! Without balance your jug is just going to tip and spill all those good drops all over the floor. And I KNOW you don’t need something else to clean up 😉

    angela recently wrote…The Pre-PartyMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      Haha, you’re right, I don’t!

  • June 22, 2012 Robin

    I cannot – and do not – function if I don’t get to do those things. I don’t think it’s selfish at all. I really don’t think we can give up everything to satisfy our children’s needs – there has to be a balance.

    The first little while with a baby is really tough and it tends to be that way to some degree for a while if you’re breastfeeding. But I think little man #2 is getting to the point where his mama can go work out without feeling guilty about it. 😉
    Robin recently wrote…Happy HeartsMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      Thank you and hear hear! Right now, it’s the logistics that’s bogging me down with working in some exercise into the schedule. But we’ll work something out soon I hope!

  • June 22, 2012 Crazy Kwistin

    Great post! It is so hard to find the balance. They drive us crazy but make us so happy at the same time. It is why I LOVE blogging, it is for ME 🙂

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      Yes, me too! Despite being crazy busy, I do still make time to blog, it’s my sanity saver.

  • June 22, 2012 Laura

    You are so not alone. There are days I get so upset because I don’t know when I’ll ever get another moment to myself. I want a night out, desperately. I want a quiet coffee break.

    I hope you are able go take some time for yourself to replenish your jug. Xo
    Laura recently wrote…Get Out That DoorMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      I’m so glad you got out and did that run, Laura!!

      I hope to work out some exercise time in soon. Wish me luck 🙂

  • June 22, 2012 Kimberly

    I have those same thoughts. Though my kids are my life, I still need to do things just for me.

    I find this ironic because just 2 weeks ago you and I had this conversation except the roles were reversed. I was struggling and you were the one talking me down from the ledge, encouraging me to do things just for me and to take time for myself. You need this, and it does not make you selfish. At all.
    Kimberly recently wrote…BrothersMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      Hah, that’s right! I should practice what I preach 🙂

  • June 22, 2012 vanita

    Alison, if you don’t take care of you, how can you function to take care of anyone else? I say this to myself often, because if i don’t remind myself of this, and i go two weeks without doing for me, i get super pissy. and though i hide it from the kids as best as possible, i do have pissy thoughts in my head and they can feel it. i think it makes them pissy too. taking care of you is taking care of your kids. mothers have been known to slip into depression and have nervous breakdowns from being ALL FAMILY ALL THE TIME. and then someone else has to take care of their kids while they’re finally taking care of themselves under medical attention. it’s a reality. take care of you girl. once you do that, everything else will come naturally.
    vanita recently wrote…Create An Ebook in 6.5 hrs (when a blogger insults you)My Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      You’re right of course, and I know that too. And I just ate ice cream by myself, I’m so pleased, hee!

  • June 22, 2012 Rachel J.

    I hate feeling guilty and selfish for wanting time to myself, but I do! And I NEED that time. I think it makes me a better mama – makes me more focused when I am with them. Jug filling…absolutely. I love that!
    Rachel J. recently wrote…Life LatelyMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      Yes, doing something for ourselves cannot be a bad thing if it makes us function better as Mamas. No more guilt!

  • June 22, 2012 Melanie

    It’s not selfish. Taking time for yourself is a must for all Mamas, otherwise we will burn out and a burnt out, exhausted Mama is not what our babies need. When you are refreshed and happy, you will be so much more present and happy for your babies. So go for it, fill that jug yourself. It’s the best thing you can do for you and them.
    Melanie recently wrote…Yes, It’s Goldfish For Breakfast…My Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      Thank you Melanie. I think I’ll do just that. 🙂

  • June 22, 2012 My Inner Chick

    –Mama A,
    jug filling is NOT selfish. It will make you a more effective mother, wife, writer, & person <3

    Love. Xxx

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      Thank you Kim. I hope you’ve been filling your jug too. xo

  • June 22, 2012 Mark

    Dude, if you’re a good Mother, and I suspect you are, these feelings never go away. As a “professional” parent for over 12 years now, I can tell you to just go with the flow. My jug isn’t nearly full.
    Mark recently wrote…The SettlementMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      I went with the flow, taking your advice. I made out with some ice cream ALONE just now!

  • No you are not selfish to want! We all want. And being torn by the wants for ourselves and the wants for our children is what makes us all mothers.
    Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes recently wrote…Wordfull wednesday : summer delightsMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      This mothering thing is such a hard gig to figure out 🙂

  • June 22, 2012 Missy

    That Kir . . . she’s such a giver, isn’t she? I’m glad she was able to help you. This is a hard time with a new baby. As your jug fills little by little, it’ll get easier – little by little.
    Missy recently wrote…3 Pinterest Inspired Clean RecipesMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      Kir is the BEST. Truly.

  • June 22, 2012 Kir

    SELFISH? YOU? No way, not ever.

    But mostly, I am weepy because I shout out to ME, here on YOUR blog is like a FANTASTIC FRIDAY for me.

    Take some time for YOURSELF, you know that a happy mom means happy happy kids. I’ll bring the cupcakes, you get 2 spoons ready. And ANYTIME you need to chat or vent or talk, I’m here for you sweet friend.
    Kir recently wrote…Memories Captured: Capturing SummerMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      You inspired this post, my friend. Love you. xo

      (spoons are ready!)

  • June 22, 2012 Barbara

    Definitely not selfish, we all want this. We are mothers first, yes, but we don’t stop being people and individuals.
    Barbara recently wrote…Dear Nathan….My Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      Sometimes, I forget ME, you know? Being so caught up in the children, it’s easy to lose ourselves.

  • June 22, 2012 Alexandra

    You are smart, little one. With my first, I realized when things had become dire, that I needed to fill up my own jug first.

    Just like they tell you on the airplane: put your air mask on first. Then you put on those of the ones around you.

    If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
    Alexandra recently wrote…What Drew You To BloggingMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      Love the mask analogy. Must. Remember. That.

      This is why I blog. It’s something for ME, it fills my jug.

  • June 22, 2012 Kerstin

    Ha! Alexandra just said what I was going to tell you – my favourite analogy is the one with the airplane, you always have to put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others….
    Just take it one step at a time, you’ll find your balance. Even though my kids are 14 and 10 I can very much relate to you – I still struggle with it. And you don’t have to do all the things you want, if you only do one or two that will already make you feel much better!
    Kerstin recently wrote…Star Wars, Einstein’s Relativity Theory and reading…My Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      I did! I ate ice cream by myself just now!

  • June 22, 2012 Runnermom-jen

    Oh yes, you need to fill your personal “jug” too, Alison…otherwise you’re no good to anyone. Why do you think I run so much? 😉
    P.S. I wish we could meet for a cup of coffee…or a cocktail 🙂
    Runnermom-jen recently wrote…Soak Up Every DropMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      Running is on my list of jug-filling activities 🙂

      PS: I wish we could too!

  • June 22, 2012 Sarah

    Alison, I have definitely been exactly where you are with your thinking, your wants, all of that. You HAVE to look out for yourself. It took me a few years into having children to realize at least right now, a lot of their happiness and well-being depends on my happiness and well-being. It just does. Once they are out in the world a bit more it won’t matter as much, but for now–I have to take care of ME so that I can take care of them. You’re giving your children a gift by meeting your needs first. No shit.
    Sarah recently wrote…The ONE TRUE way to tell you’ve picked a good Baby Daddy–the spill linkupMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      I love that perspective – of us giving them the gift of our jug-filling.

      Thank you for the inspiration, my friend.

  • June 23, 2012 Life As Wife

    I relate to you so much, friend!

    My issue though? I think I’m filling my jug with the wrong things: stress and worry. They’re taking up all the room do that I’m not getting the good drops.

    Hoping we both sort out our jugs soon!
    Life As Wife recently wrote…Family Summer of Fun: Farmer’s Market & Splash ParkMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      Yes, you need to fill your jug with good things!! Good luck!

  • June 23, 2012 Hopes

    Not selfish at all. Just human! I know how you feel. I’ve been doing, doing, doing, for my boys and my family for so long I fogot what it was like to do something small for me. I’ve neglected me, and that can’t be good for my boys either? Damn balance and it’s impossiblity!!! We will get there right?
    Hopes recently wrote…What a Difference a Mountain Range MakesMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      Yes, yes, we will!

  • June 23, 2012 Jessica

    You are not selfish or rationalizing. You are a human being with needs – go work out! xo
    Jessica recently wrote…What I Wore for My BirthdayMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      I WILL!!

  • June 23, 2012 Erin

    You are not selfish! I understand how you are feeling though. I find it very hard to step away, too. I just don’t want to miss anything and what if they need something and, and, and. I could give you a million excusses. My husband usually has to push me out the door. Take a break. Get some me time. You deserve it.
    Erin recently wrote…Zoo, Where Are You? – Read. Learn. Explore Link upMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      You have a good husband, Erin!!!

  • June 23, 2012 Heather's Happenings

    That’s not selfish at all. I feel the same way all the time. I would love to get away from the house a hour or two without the kids. Sometimes we just need that break 🙂
    Heather’s Happenings recently wrote…She’s Pre School BoundMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      And I hope you get that hour or two sans kids, Heather!

  • June 23, 2012 Katie

    Ok the world will tell you you’re not being selfish. but you are. AND THAT IS OK.

    It really is.

    Now, I will not lie and say that I practice what I preach. I try really hard to though. Because I know that when I splurge to get a pedicure or let both boys go to daycare so I can just sit in my chair and read ALL DAY I will feel hella guilty (do people say hella anymore? meh), but it will also fill my ME jug.

    So fill up your jugs…I mean jug, friend.

    Eff that mom guilt.
    Katie recently wrote…on turning threeMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      Hah! You’re right, eff that mom guilt. If we don’t take care of us, we ain’t gonna be happy mamas, right?


  • June 23, 2012 Tonya

    You are anything but selfish, you are a mom and finding a balance is key, but oh so difficult. Hang in there, sweet mama. And above all go easy on yourself. xo

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      That’s the hard part – going easy on myself. 🙂

  • June 23, 2012 Christine

    I really like how you describe this – that it’s a combination of our children and family filling out jugs but that WE also have to fill it ourselves. It’s really hard and I know that so many of us struggle with this. I’m not sure that there is an answer but we just keep trying to do our best. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but we know that our intention is there.
    Christine recently wrote…TGIFMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      Yes, you’re right, we just got to do our best. I hope you’re filling your ME jug, Christine!

  • June 23, 2012 Jessica

    You have to fill your jug from many different things. Not just the kids and not just yourself. In that you will find balance (kind of).
    Jessica recently wrote…The Home That Is Always OpenMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      You’re a wise one, Jess.

  • June 23, 2012 Susi

    No need to rationalize. i have felt this way too many times to count. Always torn between them and me… I think, it will never change. But the jug will keep filling!!! 🙂
    Susi recently wrote…Follow Friday Four Fill in Fun #68My Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      Yes, it will! It must!

  • June 23, 2012 Carolyn

    You’re funny.
    I had the same tugs. I wanted to be around my girls 24/7. First JBird, in case I didn’t have another, then with Thumper because she was my last.
    Soon I realized I was suffocating myself. I do better when I take a little time for me.

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      It’s a fine balancing act, isn’t it, their wants and ours?

  • June 23, 2012 Robbie

    Do what you need to do to take care of yourself so you can take care of your family and enjoy the time you do spend with them. If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!
    Robbie recently wrote…Friday FragmentsMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      You’re absolutely right, Robbie!

  • June 23, 2012 thedoseofreality

    I love this post. I think it is so hard to “do it all”. But always put on your oxygen mask first. I try to remember that, especially when I feel like I am being pulled in a million different directions.
    And my other favorite: You are doing the best you can, and it is better than average. 🙂
    thedoseofreality recently wrote…Baby Registry Item #1: Good GirlfriendsMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      Hah third person to mention the oxygen mask analogy!! I will definitely NOT forget now 🙂

  • June 23, 2012 Kimberly

    That balance is elusive…and even when you manage to find it, it’s fleeting. But you’ve got the important stuff: awareness and LOVE. Everything else will come together. xo
    Kimberly recently wrote…Memories Captured: SixteenMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      Thank goodness for love. 🙂

  • June 23, 2012 bonnie ferrell

    beautifully written!

    stopping by from sits:)
    bonnie ferrell recently wrote…Just Sayin’ Friday ~ Airing your dirty laundry via FacebookMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      Thanks Bonnie!

  • June 23, 2012 Ellen

    Wow. I thought I was the only one that has last baby syndrome! Glad to know I’m not alone.
    Ellen recently wrote…The Killing Bugs TalkMy Profile

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      No, you’re not alone, Ellen!

  • June 23, 2012 Weather Anchor Mama

    Oh man! SO sad I missed the link up. I can sooooo relate. My blog is all about struggling to find balance between career and motherhood (among other things). I wanna work out too and spend time with Princess. It’s so hard. The truth is you can’t find that perfect balance. But, I still try to find some sort of it. The hardest part about being a mom is that you can’t always be there. Here’s my latest post of a nightmare of an experience with her daycare.

    • June 23, 2012 Alison

      As long as we try right?

  • June 23, 2012 Charlotte

    Gosh, I haven’t stopped by Kir’s place in far too long. Thanks for the reminder; she is such a doll, isn’t she?

    Obviously I can’t say that I understand from personal experience, though I see it with my friends all the time. Look at how little you write about things you want to do for yourself, but how much you want to do for your children? Obviously, you are a natural mother. And you put the needs of your kids before your own. But doing that also means that you aren’t taking care of yourself entirely, which is something I think that troubles the parents I know. The guilt. It’s not selfish. And you’re doing all that you can to find a balance. I wish you much continued success with this, momma. I think of you often. XOXO

    (and also: I have to ask, because I genuinely never would want to say something that might be misconstrued… but do you hate when non-mommies chime in? Because I know there’s something that you share and I find it do it often, just because I want to contribute and love leaving comments for my favorites, but I wouldn’t want someone to then think that I don’t understand personally, ya know? Anyway, just my random ramblings. Carry on!) 🙂
    Charlotte recently wrote…my chat with a psychic mediumMy Profile

    • June 24, 2012 Alison

      Sweet Charlotte. You always say the right things – which is why I LOVE your comments and I’ve never thought you shouldn’t be commenting just because you don’t have personal experience with motherhood (silly goose!).

  • June 24, 2012 anymommy

    It is jug-filling, but it’s also jug-gling and it’s hard. It’s not selfish to find time for yourself. Never. Kids need to see that you are important too because some day they will need to know that their needs are important despite others’ demands. At least, that’s what I tell myself when I flee gleefully to wine night 😉

    • June 24, 2012 Alison

      Stacey, I’m just thrilled you read and commented. And I love that you wrote jug-gling – yes, this. I’m still struggling with this. I do like your perspective, thank you!!

  • June 25, 2012 Stasha

    I can so relate to this. I always want it all, manage not near enough and get lost along the way. Luckily doing things I love. Not quite changing the world but….

    • June 25, 2012 Alison

      Doing things you love is important. Changing YOUR world is important 🙂

  • June 25, 2012 Lady Jennie

    What a perfect metaphor.

    Or … perfect words from Buddha.
    Lady Jennie recently wrote…Farms Are DustyMy Profile

    • June 25, 2012 Alison

      Perfect words from Buddha, yes.

  • June 25, 2012 Jessica

    No. You are not selfish for wanting to find space to breathe amidst the beauty of your very full life. That’s the challenge, isn’t it? Finding our space. I think with one child, I could more easily balance the me time and their time, but now I find that in many ways, it’s our time. I now workout with my girls. I eat with my girls. When my girls are playing, I read a page of a novel. This is working for me. I hope you find some balance soon! xo.
    Jessica recently wrote…Choosing a Camera: What to Look for in a DSLRMy Profile

    • June 25, 2012 Alison

      Yes, it needs to be our time a little more to get some kind of balance. I’m still trying to find a good way to do as much as I can for them AND for me.

  • June 25, 2012 Tricia

    Oh not at all selfish (though I often feel that way too). I love the jug-filling quote.
    Tricia recently wrote…The things we doMy Profile

    • June 25, 2012 Alison

      It’s a fabulous quote. Made me think. 🙂

  • June 26, 2012 Elaine

    It’s such a struggle because we still NEED time to ourselves. That’s why I have babysitters and pre-school on my side. 😉

    Buddha is so smart. And Kir is SUCH an amazing friend to have.

    Elaine recently wrote…Time together & MEMMy Profile

    • June 26, 2012 Alison

      And I’m fortunate I have my in laws 🙂

  • June 27, 2012 Natalie

    I know how hard it is to find the balance. It will come. It will. Until then, enjoy the ride!
    Natalie recently wrote…Seven MonthsMy Profile

    • June 27, 2012 Alison

      Yes! That I certainly am.

  • June 29, 2012 Galit Breen

    You are beautiful, not selfish. Always. xo
    Galit Breen recently wrote…So Very SorryMy Profile

    • June 29, 2012 Alison

      Thank you, you’re sweet as always. xo

  • June 29, 2012 Nikky44

    You’re nothing close to selfish!!
    Nikky44 recently wrote…Sisterhood Award: A smile in the darkMy Profile

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