By Heather Miller

For seven years I was a stay at home mom. I did absolutely nothing for myself. I did everything, however, for everyone else. At the time it was fine. I was in the mindset that I was supposed to be putting myself last and that I was doing the right thing for me and for my kids. I looked around me and noticed that I was not the only mom who was putting herself last, so that must be the way that things were supposed to be, right? Well, while this may work out well for some, it was not working out for me. I was in a marriage that wasn’t at all right, and I was miserable, because in all honesty, I love making myself happy, and at that time I was anything but happy.

Please don’t get it twisted, I love my kids and to see them happy, which they were. That wasn’t enough, though. I needed to be happy, too. I left the security of having my bills paid and being able to give 100% of myself to my kids and moved out, with my kids, into a two bedroom apartment in an area that I always wanted to live and started to really take time for myself. I didn’t do this without judgement, however, and that, to me, is the sad part.

My kids are still more than well cared for. I am there to bring them surprise lunches when I can, and attend field trips, make sure their homework is done, and take them to Girl Scouts. I am also there for myself now. I let the housework go and head to happy hour when I can. I take trips to see my friends on the weekends when the kids are with their dad, and let loose like I did ten years ago. I stay up too late and pay for it the next morning and it feels so so good! While this may not be the life for every mom out there, it is for sure the life for me, and it is well balanced, which my old life was not.

It is so easy to lose ourselves when we become mothers and make ourselves someone that we are not meant to be. I did it for years. I thought that in order to be an amazing mom I had to change who I was completely. This made me miserable. It made me feel like I had to stay with someone who was so obviously not who I was meant to be with. It made me feel like I had to turn in at 10pm each night in order to get up and be fresh faced in the car line. It made me feel like my children would resent me if I gave myself any attention as it would take away from the attention that I could be giving to them. In my case, none of that was working to my advantage. Or to theirs.

I encourage you, fellow moms, to please do what makes you happy, regardless of any judgement that you may receive. We are given one life, and I promise you that the happier you make yourself, the happier your kids will be. My life is far from a traditional one, and I am more than OK with that now, even thought it took me a while to get there. My kids deserved to see their mom happy, which they now do, and that is the biggest success I have had as a mom. It isn’t about what others think that you should be doing, it is about what works.

So whether it is a night out every other week or a weekly photography class, sometimes it is OK to say, “This is all for me.”