Monday, June 18, 2012

Guest Post: If Momma Ain't Happy...

The Semi-Organic Mom's Note:  I am pleased to welcome Carly Leotti, AP DOM on board as a regular contributor!  She will be writing for us a few times a month.  Carly is not only my sister-from-another-mother, but she is also a Board Certified Acupuncturist and has some very unique insights.

It's Monday afternoon and this is my third patient who has sat down in the recliner across from me and started crying. “What's wrong?” I ask; “Life” she replies, and the details of an existence spread far too thin pour out.

Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence. I work at my acupuncture practice three days a week and, every single day, there is at least one patient who comes in crying. All are women, most are mothers, and all have forgotten the existence of a very important person: themselves.

Sometimes, I think we women are born with it: this innate desire to care for everyone else around us and to place their needs above our own. Some seem to be able to overcome this draw to absurd selflessness, but for the rest of us, we find ourselves curiously torn between a need to feel fulfilled and the guilt that accompanies the pursuit of that need.

To each woman who sits across from me in tears, I have the same conversation (there are variations for mothers vs. non-mothers):

Me: What's your schedule like?
Her: Well, I get up with the kids and get them ready. I go to work. Pick up the kids, figure out dinner, put the kids to bed, spend time with my husband, and then go to bed.
Me: Ok. Do you have any “you time”?
Her: Oh of course! Once or twice a week I get out of the house for an hour or so.
Me: (surprised) Oh good! What do you do?
Her: Grocery shop.

Allow me to clarify: braving the teeming hordes of WalMart, the patchouli laden aisles of Whole Foods, or the crowds at Publix is not, I repeat, is NOT “you time”. The conversation continues:

Me: Hm. Well, what is something you like to do?
Her: Umm...well, hmm.

This is the saddest part of the conversation for me. The woman has become so wrapped up in the well being of her family, her friends, her co-workers, that she has forgotten (or maybe has never found) the things that she likes to do. Her existence has been defined as belonging to someone else; she is someone's employee, someone's bestie, someone's daughter, someone's wife, and/or someone's mother.

Please understand, I am not saying that we cannot be happy and find joy in being a daughter, wife, mother, or friend. I am proud to be a wife to my husband and a mother to our son; they bring me intense joy. What I am saying is that, before jobs, husbands, and children came along, we were an individual with our own desires, needs, and dreams. There were things we did that made us happy, that we did for own selfish enjoyment. Somewhere along the line, we lost sight of those things, replacing our own desires with the needs of others. At some point, going grocery shopping became “me time.”

We cannot be good employees, good wives, or good mothers if we cannot be good selves. How can we truly give to others when we cannot give to ourselves? How can we really care for someone else's needs when we refuse to tend to our own?

So, what's the takeaway? Simply that, when making out your to-do list for the day, don't forget to schedule some time for yourself. When deciding on your priorities, get yourself on the list (even if it's at the bottom- everyone has to start somewhere). Do one thing every day that is only for your enjoyment (even if the only thing you can do is run potty by yourself). Show yourself the same patience, the same mercy, the same love that you strive to show everyone else. Love yourself more and you will love others better.

Carly Leotti is a board certified acupuncturist and mother to an amazing little boy.  She practices with her husband Dominic in Fort Myers.  Their website is  

1 comment:

  1. Carly, you are one wise lady. I'm a lifetime past letting caring for family consume me--so what am I doing going out and hunting up others whose needs will take all my time?

    Really, I do understand what you are saying and I agree, but I've just never learned how to do it. Should we declare this attitude an addiction and start a support group?