Moms, put YOU on the to-do list!

A few weeks back the dog groomer told me that my dog was suffering from allergies and needed to see the vet.

I went home and immediately called the vet to set up an appointment for the dog.

I hung up the phone, itched my eyes, wiped my nose and realized that I had needed to see the allergist for weeks but never fit myself into the family schedule. I put everyone in our family before me – even the family pet.

I went to the gynecologist on Jan. 30 and brought home the paperwork to set up an appointment for a mammogram but I never called. The paperwork sat on my dresser for several months until I finally moved it to a hanging organizer so I wouldn’t lose it. But it continued to sit.

I finally made my mammogram appointment Tuesday for today. The last thing I can fit in before the kids get out of school.

During those five months I took kids to countless pediatrician appointments, orthopedists appointments, physical therapy appointments, swim meetings, church meetings, birthday parties and play dates. I volunteered at church, at school, helped neighbors, taught school, served on an honors thesis committee but never found the time to take care of myself.

My husband thinks this is just procrastination but I don’t think so. I think it’s prioritization. I think mothers put themselves at the bottom of the to-do list and only take care of things when everything else has been accomplished or if it becomes urgent.

I know that I am not the only mother doing this. I know many of you are not making appointments to have odd moles looked at or odd periods checked out. I know many of you aren’t making time for exercise each day but are getting the kids to every single soccer practice.

Moms need to move themselves up on the to-do list. We don’t have to be first but we shouldn’t be last every single time.

What appointment have you put off? Why do women have such a hard time taking care of themselves but not everyone else?

43 comments Add your comment

elgrunir

May 22nd, 2013
12:05 am

Because too many women abdicate being a person when they become mothers. It’s all about worshipping and treating their children as these highly-fragile Faberge eggs that need attention 24/7.

The mothers that are the best role models, in my opinion, are those who still lead some sort of a balanced life. If your kids are the center of the universe every minute of every day, they will expect the same from the world at large. It’s not good for the mother and it’s not good for the kids.

Mayhem

May 22nd, 2013
6:55 am

Up until the time my babies went to school, I put EVERYONE before myself. That’s what I thought mom’s did. Once you have children, your entire world changes. Now you are responsible for this little baby.

I would say, within the last 10 years, I have taken better care of myself. I’m not just talking about doctor’s appts., etc. I’m talking about taking time for ME. Like taking Girlfriend Weekends with my girlfriends. Going out one night a week with friends, with or without hubby. If I go out one night, he goes out another. I think that’s the healtiest (sp) thing do to in a relationship.

My kids/family will always come first. BUT, I also take care of me. I still, to this day, schedule “Pajama Weekends”, where I stay in my house clothes all weekend. Don’t go anywhere, just stay home for 2 days. Those weekends are so relaxing and we just putz around the house/yard.

But too many women play the martyr card, and over work, over schedule themselves. These are the women who burn out at an early age.

As we get older, we need to slow down, and sometimes just STOP and smell the roses. And from reading above, TWG is a major candidate for burn out.

Mother of 2

May 22nd, 2013
7:22 am

I remember well how difficult it was juggling everything when my kids were small. I truly believe that time spent with your family is precious and should be tops on the priority list. Now, my children are in college and high school. I am grateful for all of the volunteering I did, putting my kids first. I took my role as a stay at home mom seriously, and put as much energy into this job as I would have if I was at a company, working for a paycheck. I wouldn’t have a 9-5 mentality, no matter what I did.

I always wanted to be a positive role model for my kids. Staying at home, running the house and caring for the kids was more than full time job. My kids have fond memories of all the things I did with them. And we are a close family because of all the quality time we spent together. I was fortunate to have both quality and quantity of time.

Now that my kids are older and driving themselves from place to place, I have much more time for me and my husband. He and I have plenty of common interests, and we have settled into our roles as older parents quite nicely. We both cherish the time we spent with our children, running from sports activities, to plays, to music events.

It’s easy to put yourself on the back burner. But think of doctor visits as time well spent for your children. A little preventative maintenance is time well invested. Schedule your doctor visits when the kids are in school, and consider them as important as parent teacher conferences.

People may criticize you for putting your children first. But I’m living proof that behaving as you do will pay off in life long family closeness. You don’t have to be perfect for everyone else. Just do what’s right for your family.

motherjanegoose

May 22nd, 2013
7:38 am

TWG, yes it is hard to do. If your family is a tree and you are the roots, you need to take care of the roots or the tree will topple. Good luck!

FCM

May 22nd, 2013
7:41 am

There is nothing wrong with putting your FAMILY first. The significant other/spouse & not just the kids should be first. Putting them first does not mean not doing for self. Mom has to be healty so that she can do the things that make up her day/her home.

TWG, you are lucky you do have a husband who earns enough to support the family. You are lucky to have a job that allows felxibilty to be there for your children.

You have many blessings from God.

My mother put her career on hold for 18 years and says to this day she does not regret it.

My children have a much differnt life than I did, due to my being single parent. I do not regret one moment of putting them first in my “down time”. The time is fast approaching where they will be the ones heading out and then I will have the “freedom” to go do the things I put on hold (date, girl weekends with friends, etc).

FCM

May 22nd, 2013
7:43 am

Proverbs 31:10-31

TWG….I read that again today….I think you fit at least 90% of it.

K's Mom

May 22nd, 2013
7:57 am

My kids are very young and we are at the stage where they have to come first and because of my husband’s career, I do often come last when it comes to doctor’s appointments and if I am sick. I had a very hard pregnancy with my first and was never convinced I would bring a baby home until I heard him cry. I went a little nuts his first 8 months and almost never left him. I woke up one day and realized I adored this child, but I had to have something of my own. I got a part time job and that helped our entire family tremendously. I no longer bubble wrapped my child and could talk to my husband about something other than K.

Now with 2 kids that are 3 & 1 and a husband who works about 70 hours a week, I still have trouble doing stuff for myself often, but I do go get pedicures occasionally, do stufff with friends occasionally, have monthly date night with the hubs and read frequently and let my kids play with their dad. They all love it. I also let my husband do things his way when I am gone and do not question what my kids ate and what they are wearing. That let’s me enjoy my time away.

Simple Truths

May 22nd, 2013
9:06 am

Mom’s put their husband at the bottom of the list.

Jeff

May 22nd, 2013
9:18 am

This is a joke. Men’s health is in the tank and every health article, if not directly aimed at women, uses the phrase “especially women”.

At what life expectancy gap will our country actualy say “hey, we might need to try to do something” about the health of men.

And before you even start, do the men in your life feel like YOU care more about the health of women you don’t even know than you care about theirs?

Ann

May 22nd, 2013
9:26 am

@ Iggy – Are you proud to be known as a “creepy stalker”?

Mayhem

May 22nd, 2013
9:30 am

@Simple Truth – my husband is at the top of my list. I’m sure I’m at the top of his too. We take care of each other.

@Jeff, my husband takes excellent care of his health. Although I am the one that makes the doctors/dentist appts, etc. He goes! I am a FIRM believer in “preventive medicine”. We get yearly physicals, and go to the dentist twice a year. We don’t really “exercise” but we are not couch potatoes by any means. We both work full time jobs, and we both work around the house and in the yard. TOGETHER.

Ann

May 22nd, 2013
9:40 am

@ Jeff – To some degree, it’s because they are trying to “catch up”. Historically, for many decades, illnesses, such as heart disease were only “researched” on men and were considered male diseases. Then, they finally learned that it was common in women, but the symptoms and treatment are not necessarily the same. So, now we have more articles trying to educate women about the symptoms, because there is still a cultural perception that women do not have heart attacks or heart disease. The symptoms are less obvious, so there is more education about what to look for. HIV and AIDS is another example. Most articles in the first few years focused on men, then they would make a point to mention women to educate the population that it affects women, too.

I am not sure why you view most health articles as about women. Every week, I see articles about smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, colon cancer, sports injuries, Alzheimer’s disease. Many of these are not focused on any particular gender and address both men and women. There have been tons of articles about prostate cancer in the past decade. And, just about every week now, there is an article about concussions and football, or baseball and chest protection. Could it be you are hanging out on women’s sites more, leading to that perception?

FCM

May 22nd, 2013
9:46 am

@ Jeff…I know my Mom asked my Dad to go the doctor for years. He however only went when it became urgent. Now that he has had the stroke, triple by-pass, and so on, she makes sure he goes. She told him he is too important to her to not take care of, and he is not the breadwinner–she has been for more than 10 years.

@ those who would not put their spouse first: I have never heard of a strong marriage producing “rotten” children.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

May 22nd, 2013
10:01 am

Hey FCM — I will look up the verse — I need all the help I can get —

Part of the reason I am not on as much is that I am just running all the time — also part of the reason is the trolls are so negative it’s no fun to be harassed.

The kids do want privacy. Walsh will say things like “and don’t put that in the blog.” They are older and I am trying to respect their privacy and boundaries.

Ann

May 22nd, 2013
10:07 am

I do think that there are some men who hesitate to go to doctors. My husband and father, though, are not that type. They visit doctors frequently for a variety of reasons.

I think that Moms sometimes delay appointments because we are simply very busy, in general. I had a friend who delayed getting her colonoscopy, which you should get at age 50 (or earlier if you have family history). She waited about two years and was diagnosed with colon cancer stage 3, when she had the procedure. Don’t procrastinate on the important things. Some also delay colonoscopies because they think it is unpleasant. I had one recently and it really wasn’t that bad. The procedure itself is pretty easy, and you only spend about a half day beforehand drinking cleansing fluids. I found this article from the New York Times very useful 10 Questions You Need to Ask About Colonoscopy. The article has good information about split dosing, which leads to a better exam. The first doctor I visited did not even mention split dosing as an option and they gave me traditional prep instructions. After reading this article, I found another doctor that only does split dosing. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/24/health/esn-colonoscopy-expert.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1369234985-jidrBqulS1a9JQozXEIodw

Techmom

May 22nd, 2013
11:13 am

Comment got eaten

south georgia mom

May 22nd, 2013
11:50 am

TWG, your children know what you do for a living, right? They know you get paid to write columns based on the life of a mom (and that includes discussing what the children do/say). Why are you letting your children dictate what you write or don’t write about? That’s an awful lot of power you are handing them.

If you truly want to respect your children’s privacy, then quit this job and do something that doesn’t require you (and your family by association) to be in the media spotlight. The name of your blog is Momania. But if you don’t write about your children, or life as a mom, then you are simply left with the cut-and-paste topics that many have been complaining about lately.

Perhaps a mom can relate to something your children said/did. Or perhaps the mom thought she was the only one who experienced thus and such, only to find through your blog, that someone else experienced it as well. We will never know the impact potential of your blog as long as you allow your children to dictate your subject matter.

jmb

May 22nd, 2013
11:53 am

Jeff, I have been trying to make it to the DR for a check-up for the past 6 mths. but everytime I do, my husband pulls a muscle or gets cut etc. and he goes instead. I fianlly had an appt. for this past Monday morning but my boss called Sunday night asking me to come in early for a deadline and I had to yet cancel another appt. I think what Ann said was correct and that more healthcare related articles are written these days and apply to both genders.

HB

May 22nd, 2013
12:11 pm

“Why are you letting your children dictate what you write or don’t write about? That’s an awful lot of power you are handing them.”

Yeah, the power to say what in their private lives they are uncomfortable having published on the web where anyone can read about it. You shouldn’t have to be 18 to draw a line for yourself in that respect — of course Theresa should respect their wishes!

There are plenty of good blog writers who do not write primarily or in too much detail about their own children, and there’s no reason why they should have to. They often offer up news stories about other families’ experiences for discussion or anonymously share stories of people they know. Theresa shares a bit about her family’s vacations, activities, party ideas, etc, including what the kids did or didn’t enjoy — that’s appropriate. But honestly, some of what she shared in the past (is daughter entering puberty? was coach that made son cry too mean?) made me cringe. Kids, especially ones with tech-savvy friends, shouldn’t have those personal experiences shared with the world on a major city newspaper’s site. Good for them for demanding their privacy!

FCM

May 22nd, 2013
12:31 pm

@ TWG it is the proverb of the virtuous wife :)

FCM

May 22nd, 2013
12:44 pm

@ South GA Mom….would your children want you to publish what they are doing and saying on the internet.

Great example:

I was in the drive thru not long ago. The child meal had 2 different prize options that they were delgating based on gender. The sales person said “boy or girl”

I said “Oh she wants a boy toy”

…and immediately turned bright red, my 13 yo stared at me mortfied. My 11 year (whose meal it was) just put her head in her hands….Mind you this is the drive thru it is unlikely anyone they know would have overheard this event.

Now do you really think Susie and Jane want everyone at their schools to know that incident was about them? Or that it was their mom who said that?

K's Mom

May 22nd, 2013
12:49 pm

@FCM your comment:@ those who would not put their spouse first: I have never heard of a strong marriage producing “rotten” children. Is spot on. We have made sure to put our marriage in front primarily because my husband was previously married and knows what happens when your marriage becomes nothing more than a roommate situation and all you do is dote on and spoil children.

We do not have a ton of extra money, but once a month we go and do something that is just the two of us!

real life

May 22nd, 2013
2:04 pm

My mother was widowed at the age of 41 and raised the 4 of us by herself. The one thing she never did was neglect her own health. As we became adults and started families she shared several bits of advice about having families and rearing children. One of those is never neglect your own health. No activity, work or school event is more important than your own health. Too busy is an excuse. Too many activities is an excuse. And so on. If you do not take care of your own health no one is going to do it for you.

catlady

May 22nd, 2013
2:07 pm

You have got to look at it this way, Theresa. If you can’t see doing it for yourself, straight-up, (you are worth it!) then do it for your children. You taking care of routine maintenance is your way of taking care of the family. Think how hard they would have it if you did not address these things, and postponed for too long and it seriously endangered your health, or killed you! I know you get a lot of validation from your role as Mom, and good Moms see to it that they will be around for awhile! No being a martyr–make the time!

On a health note, a former student has breast cancer. She is 36. Please remember her.

As for me, I do the mammogram every December. It is my Christmas gift to myself and my family. Perhaps you can “give” yourself gifts like that.

becky

May 22nd, 2013
2:23 pm

I bet Erma Bombeck didn’t allow her family to decide what she discussed in her books. But then again, TWG isn’t Erma Bombeck – she is a hellio mom with no life or decision making skills of her own. Bless her heart.

K's Mom

May 22nd, 2013
2:26 pm

@catlady, I have a friend who had her breast cancer diagnosis and mastectomy at 27 and another at 35. They are part of the reason I see my ob gyn every year!

Mayhem

May 22nd, 2013
2:28 pm

To rephrase an oldie “If Momma aint healthy, nobody’s healthy”.

dc

May 22nd, 2013
4:46 pm

there is no one in the world who loves and cares as deeply as the typical mom. That can of course cause them to demonstrate their love by sacrificing for others – which is fine, as long as they don’t push themselves to the point of doing stupid things, in reaction to giving too long.

In everything, some balance, right?

missnadine

May 22nd, 2013
6:49 pm

Boo hoo. Cry me a river. I’m sorry, but come on. Please stop playing the woe is me card, or better yet, the “sanctimommy”. You blame your kids for your inability to do anything for yourself. You know what: my kids ended up being very aware that they were not the center of my universe. They are independent and stopped relying on me to do everything for them from a pretty young age. I despise the helicopter parents, and I get mad when see stuff like this – millions of parents (yes, believe it or not, dads parent as well) take great care of their kids, take care of themselves, go to work, volunteer, and don’t go on and on about their sacrifices. Stop making excuses for your laziness.

Ann

May 22nd, 2013
8:43 pm

I didn’t see anything in Theresa’s article that said she was blaming the kids. She stated that “she” was prioritizing and put others first and that Moms should sometimes put themselves first or “higher up the list”. I believe she was taking ownership of her choices and the consequences and thinking about the changes that “she” needed to make.

missnadine

May 22nd, 2013
9:05 pm

Ann -maybe it is because my kids are out of the house, but there is a huge difference in the way kids are raised now vs 25 years ago. Kids picked 1, maybe 2 activities, and parents (moms mainly) were not driving their kids to numerous activities. These days it is rare to see a family where almost the entire focus is NOT on their kids and the activities. I think it is crazy for parents to spend every weeknight, and some weekends, to cater to their kids’ schedules. I know the activities part is not the main topic this time, but it has been raised so often before, but it does relate a little to the topic in question in the sense that TWG claims that she has no time to take care of even the most important aspects that could be detrimental to her health – like a mammogram! The whole concept of taking care of everyone else BESIDES yourself is not healthy for the mom or the kids, especially a daughter, who sees the mom as someone who caters to everyone else, almost subservient to the rest of the family, and someone who has in a sense given up on their own interests, ambitions, and even health and appearance.

Since I am on my soap box, there is something else that is missing from kids’ lives – - when I was a kid, I had to volunteer with my mom (sometimes dad), at least once every other week. This volunteering would include soup kitchens, clothing drives, animal shelters, and an occasional retirement home. I did the same for my two. I just never see this anymore. The focus seems to just be one the amount of activities we can arrange for our kids, mostly so we can brag about it on facebook. There is someone sad, even pathetic, about the ragged mom who looks on the edge of madness, especially when a big part of their problem is staring back at them in the mirror.

elgrunir

May 22nd, 2013
10:10 pm

@missnadine:

You rock!

As my ex-mother-in-law would reply when her kids were bored: “I’m not your cruise director!”

missnadine

May 23rd, 2013
10:24 am

@elgrunir – I feel the same about you, and the comment you made to her blog.

jarvis

May 23rd, 2013
11:10 am

Put the blog on your “to do” list. I want a new topic.

jmb

May 23rd, 2013
11:49 am

:) Jarvis, it’s like this every Thursday

elgrunir

May 23rd, 2013
12:47 pm

Thank you, missnadine.

I needed that more than ever… I just lost a job this morning. I have other very part-time work, but it really hurts. Thanks for the lift.

missnadine

May 23rd, 2013
2:29 pm

@elgrunir… I can help you. Send your resume to info@spotonconsulting.com. I work for a resume writing company and can give you some free tips…

Ann

May 23rd, 2013
4:53 pm

@ missnadine – I agree with most of what you wrote. Many parents do schedule too many activities for their kids. I believe this is due to several reasons, including the increased media attention on child abductions, abusers, crime, dangers, etc. There was a concerted effort in the 1960’s and 1970’s in many communities to offer after school programs for latchkey kids to keep them out of trouble, such as Boys Club programs and other after school programs From that emphasis, it morphed into more and more “scheduled activities”, with families getting caught up in this foolish race to make sure their child is the best at academics, sports, music, etc. Otherwise, they think their kids won’t get into the right college or have the right career.. I find it absurd.

I do think there is a segment of the population, however, including our family who does not follow that type of rat race. My 8 year old is limited to two activities during any one season; but, since we homeschool there is more freedom to play and explore “unsupervised” than most school kids have. I really feel bad for kids in structured school, plus multiple activities. If my son was in a structured school setting, I think I would limit it to one weekly organized activity per season.

As for the parents, my husband and I both have hobbies/interests that we participate in weekly on our own, plus Mom’s Nights Out each month, and date nights occasionally. We try to balance the needs of both children and parents.

I do see some kids volunteering, though. Just this past year, my son and I have volunteered in several ways, including trash cleanups and helping a charity organize their toy donations. He helps an elderly neighbor weekly also. We are planning to work with Meals on Wheels in the near future. I know of other young kids and teens that are doing some volunteer work. I was disappointed, however, that one charity that we wanted to volunteer with only allows volunteers age 14 and up. There is a new organization on the Northside of Atlanta that matches up kids with charities and volunteer opportunities.

elgrunir

May 23rd, 2013
5:15 pm

Miss Nadine,

You don’t just rock, you -roll-!

I’ll send you an iteration of my résumé soon.

Denise

May 23rd, 2013
11:29 pm

TWG – I don’t know at what age this happened but at a certain point, I realized that my mother was putting everyone and everything ahead of herself and was unhappy. I also realized that it was her fault that she went without because she made sure we had everything we needed plus a lot that we wanted. She had enough to take care of herself better but played the martyr a lot. I didn’t appreciate my mother MORE for taking care of me at the expense of herself. I pitied her. I tried to get her to do more for herself. (Still do.) What I’m trying to say is that your kids will not look back and say “wow, mom was such a good mom that she even missed out on her mammograms for us”. And I won’t even get into enjoying yourself outside of Michael and the kids.

missnadine

May 24th, 2013
11:21 am

@Ann – your son seems awesome, and so do YOU.

missnadine

May 24th, 2013
11:23 am

@denise -what you are saying is so true. Kids will pity ther moms in these situations, and they just don’t look up to them at all, especially the daughters.