Angela Henrie is an artist, designer and mother of (8) children whose jewelry has been featured in InStyle Magazine. When Rebecca Menzie introduced Angela to me, I immediately asked her — how do you do it? Perhaps you were wondering the same. She writes, “I make the time to be a mother because I LOVE being a mother. I make time to be a designer because I NEED to create. But it's not easy…” In Angela's below entry, she shares with us how difficult it is to do both. By projecting herself twenty years into the future and writing a letter to her children, she talks of her ongoing tussle with guilt, and lessons learned.
I hope you didn't think I was a selfish Mom. Even if I did things for myself, it was so I'd be a happier Mom for you.
I didn't necessarily ENJOY doing things for myself…O.K., yes I did. But I did feel guilt. I was always afraid I was being selfish and that you would think I was being neglectful of my motherly duties.
Looking back, I see the importance of doing little things for myself — I wish I could go back and enjoy those times more — they made me feel like I still had my individuality. Not only was I Libbie, Hunter, Brock, Sophie, Dylan, Tula, Wynnie, and Gigi's mom, Cameron's wife, Gil and Pam's daughter, I was Angela. The Angela that liked to be creative, liked to bake, nest, garden.
But sometimes I needed more. A little boost. If I could offer any advice, it would be this: Do things for yourself now and then. It's O.K. You know — things like I did. Here are just four:
This was the most obvious. And it was also the hardest for me to do. I hated when you noticed my new toe nail color. I knew what would come next: “You got a pedicure without me!” Yes, I did. If I took you, I'd have to take all of you girls. A $25 pedicure was so much more affordable than $25 x 7! I could have told you that “when you get older, YOU will have the money to afford yourself pedicures.” or “I never got pedicures when I was your age!” But then I would sound like my mother. No one wants to sound like their mother.
So I would apologize and tell you I would take you next time. This helped ease my guilt. I didn't want to feel like I was not sharing with you or putting you first. Remember, I told you I didn't really enjoy pedicures and you would roll your eyes?
But it was true. So true. I did enjoy them. BUT, I hated feeling the guilt of leaving you out. But now I realize it was just a little luxury I needed. Yes, you can “need” luxury. Everyone deserves that. Including you. And me.
Dad and I had a standing date every week. We needed that reconnection time. Alone time. (Alone time was very difficult to come by at home. So we HAD to leave.) I didn't like to hear your question, “So, are you and Dad going out tonight?” I felt like it was a loaded question, like you were really asking me, “You're going out again and leaving us at home with macaroni and cheese for dinner while you eat gourmet pizza and see a movie on the big screen!” You probably didn't even mean it like that, I just let the guilt get the best of me and put CRAZY thoughts into my head. “Do you want happy parents?”, I would ask you. “Because parents who go out on dates come home happier parents.” There. I gave you all something to think about. Who wouldn't want happier parents?
Source: NY Joe's Pasta Pizza
I NEEDED hobbies of my own. I loved to paint, sew, bake, make jewelry. I could sit for hours working on a project and you would sit beside me doing your own project. You learned not to touch Mom's paints and beads. You grew up around “projects”. They were my outlet. Therapy. I felt the least amount of guilt here. Maybe because it helped pay for your dance lessons and clothes. It was “killing two birds with one stone”; I was enjoying myself and at the same time helping contribute to the family finances. It made me feel successful and gave me self worth. It helped my ever-suffering self esteem. I hope you never felt like I was ignoring you when I got lost in my little creative world. I needed that time. I needed to exercise my brain.
Courtesy: Angela Henrie Designs
It was the most femininely decorated room in the house. Dad and I would joke that it was MY room and he was a guest there. But, deep down, I really meant it. Is that wrong? Because I felt a little guilty that I did, indeed, feel that way. But it worked for us. He spent more time in there than I did. He didn't seem to mind the floral sheets and pillows, the pink chairs, the dripping-with-pearls sconces. I'm so relieved he didn't resent me for that…I don't think I could have handled any more guilt in my life!
Courtesy: HGTV/Shelly Riehl David
In retrospect, I wasted a lot of time feeling guilty. I should have enjoyed moments more and not pondered so much the negative reactions I might or might not have gotten from you. I treated you all with respect and unconditional love. You all knew you could come to me with ANY problem you might have had, ANY request, ANY question about life. Those are important things I think every child should grow up with. Being a Mother always came first and I would never change that. Doing things for myself only made me a better person to be around, and a better mother!
Oh — how I love you!
If you were to write a letter to your children, could you identify 2-3 things you do to help restore your sense of self? If you can, what are they? If you can't, would you like to be able to write this type of a letter in a year or two?
Do you have a sanctuary–A place of where you can go to dream?
How are you doing at saying ‘no' to your loved ones in the near-term so that you can say ‘yes' to them long-term?
In our back-and-forth prior to Angela's guest posting (yes, I do welcome guest posts — but fair warning — I'll push a bit so as to get your best work!), Angela talked about creating a workspace large enough to accommodate her children, bringing them along as she dreams. How can/are you doing this?
Is it just me, or do you also find yourself wanting to make an appointment to get a pedicure when you see the above photo? There is something so nurturing about having our feet washed, rubbed — isn't there?