April Jeppson: It’s OK to take a break for yourself, momma

Published 8:45 pm Friday, March 5, 2021

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Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

I read a thing the other day. It said, “Cleaning your house without kids is not a break. Showering is not a break. Grocery shopping alone is not a break. It’s chores and basic hygiene, but mothers are supposed to be grateful to do these things that literally everyone else just does. And at some point, we just break…”

April Jeppson

My youngest child is 7 and can do most things on her own. This morning she hopped in the shower and washed her hair without my help. They know how to pack their own lunches and how to brush their own hair. I’ve still got to double check their work, but they are doing it on their own. My life, right now, feels pretty easy compared to what it once was.

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Last night my youngest crawled into my bed after a nightmare woke her up. It doesn’t happen much anymore. It used to be common that a kid was in my bed or I was on the couch with one of them. Brian has woken me up and asked me to come back to bed multiple times after I’d fallen asleep in a chair next to a fussy baby. The level of exhaustion that mothers are running on most days would surprise those without kids.

I’m not sure how I got through some of those early days with little kids. A baby who’s up half the night crying. A toddler that decides 5 a.m. is an appropriate time to start the day. Potty training, tantrums, play dough — oh and the complete lack of privacy. I’ve had to open up fruit snacks while taking a shower. I’m pretty sure it was only in the last two years that I’ve been able to use the bathroom in my house without someone coming in or shouting at me through the door.

So when I read this bit about moms needing an actual break, it really hit me. I wish I would have understood this when my children were younger. I wish I would have reached out for help more. I wish I would have understood that mom dates and massages and just going for a walk on my own wasn’t selfish. It’s necessary.

I get it now. A few years ago I made it a priority to see my friends more. I’m currently packing an overnight bag so I can meet up with my friend in Des Moines this weekend. The two-hour drive there and back is pure luxury. Having the car to myself, having the radio to myself — ahhhh. I can make phone calls without having to tell my kids to stop fighting. I can pop in an old Weezer CD and sing as loud as I want without anyone getting annoyed or making fun of me. Some of you might take solo car rides for granted. Not me. I cherish every second.

If you see a parent who is obviously struggling, help them. Offer to carry something, talk to their child or maybe just give them a knowing smile. It feels very alone, frustrating and often embarrassing when you’re in that stage of your life. If you’re currently struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out. Take some time — real time — for yourself. Remember, a shower without interruption is not self care.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams. Her column appears every Saturday.