Giving Myself Permission

Let me start by saying – I have a wonderful husband. (All the best blogs start that way, right?) He’s a great father, funny and patient and full of love. My son and I are lucky to have him. This isn’t about him. It’s about mommy culture. Partly other people, and let’s be honest, a lot about me.

The double standard between moms and dads – has got to go.

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When my husband takes our son to the grocery store, he always gets him a cookie, if not a donut. Sometimes, he even shares a decaf Frappuccino with him. The other shoppers think it’s cute. “Aw, look at that sweet dad shopping with his boy!”

I’m not mad at him. But when I let my son eat a donut while shopping, I can feel people’s eyes burning into the back of my head.

“I can’t believe she gave him all that sugar!”

“Is she going to wipe off his mouth already?”

“Oh, the empty calories!”

I don’t dare let him near my Starbucks.

And then – there’s the “babysitting.”

My cousin tells me how he was on his own to watch his twin girls one night. His boss says to him, “Oh, so you’re babysitting?”

“No,” he responds. “I’m parenting. Because I’M THEIR PARENT.”

When dads go to work on the weekends, they’re just putting in the extra time needed to support the family. When I do, I feel like a terrible human being abandoning my child.

I think we can all agree we’ve gone through these emotions. But the real question – is why?

No one says anything to me. My husband doesn’t say anything. My son sure isn’t going to talk me out of giving him a cookie. My co-workers have never been anything more than supportive when it comes to parenting and working.

If I can’t blame them, then that leaves…

Me.

I saw RBG the other day. The documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is fantastic, I highly recommend it. One of my many takeaways was how hard of a worker she is. While studying law at Harvard, she was raising a one-year-old baby, supporting her husband as he fought cancer, transcribing his class notes so he didn’t fall behind while out sick, and still made her way to the top tier of her class. Her family says she’d get two to four hours of sleep a night.

And here I am, watching a movie at the theater with my friend, when I could instead be spending time with my son. Or cleaning my house. Or working out. Or cooking a healthy, gourmet dinner.

What is wrong with me? RBG is an incredible human being, that’s why she gets her own documentary. What a ridiculous standard to hold myself to.

So are all those Pinterest pages and perfect Facebook profiles. Models in magazines, actresses on the red carpet and moms in sitcoms.

I’m allowed to go to a movie.

I’m allowed to warm up leftovers for dinner.

I can sure give my kid a donut if I want.

And I can work all the hours I want – or don’t want – in the work-life balance that works best for me.

I don’t need anyone else’s permission. What I need – is my own.

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