By Tonilyn Hornung of tonilynhornung.com
I never understood makeover shows. I’d watch these frumpy women get unfrumpted and think, How did they let that happen? Couldn’t they just brush their hair, put on some lipstick, and buy some jeans that fit? I don’t get it. I get it now.
Me practicing self care with a toddler and a husband who both have the energy level of The Energizer Bunny is about as likely to happen as Gwyneth Paltrow slaughtering and killing her own beef. It doesn’t happen. Much.
I’m an introvert who needs down time, so I need alone time to decompress. This way I can move through life without feeling totally overwhelmed. Without it I slip into anxiety, and the panic attacks of my early 20s are a scary reminder of what happens when I consistently put myself last.
When I only had a husband, it was easier to fit in my weekly yoga class, write every day, mediate, or take a long bath to unwind—although this didn’t always go smoothly. (The bathing part was never a problem. The husband appreciates a clean wife.)
My hubby loves my company. Generally in a marriage, this is considered a good thing, but when I’d choose down time over him time, oftentimes he’d playfully coerce me into changing my plans of self care. “Can’t you go to yoga another time?” he’d tease. A lot. Sometimes I’d cave. A lot. Sometimes I’d go to yoga. But there were the times that I’d cave.
Some days he really was less than thrilled that I’d chosen a yoga class over a potential date night. I’d get a chilly shoulder and a sad face as my yoga mat and I left for class. The whole way there I’d feel like I was choosing between making my husband happy or making myself happy.
My husband has needs as much as I do. We try our best to meet each other’s needs, and I just want to feel supported in mine like I try to support him in his. I love that he wants me around all the time, but when I try to make plans to take care of myself and he tries to sway those plans (even if he just loves my stellar company), it makes me feel like my needs are totally undervalued. Now that we have a son, this pattern has only become more intense.
These days it’s like my needs are on indefinite hold with the DMV. I’m the last caller in a long line of callers and suddenly my phone goes dead—it could be weeks before I get the service I need. If I’m not with my son, I’m with my husband. I am constantly with one or the other, and I love them. I love being with them, and of course they need me.
The problem is I need me, too.
One date night several months ago, we were supposed to go a concert. I just couldn’t do it. I was drained. I was on the verge of crying in the corner, so I told my husband to go to without me. He wanted me to go. He asked me to go like 10 times. But I couldn’t. I convinced him to go without me, and he did. That’s when it started happening: The babysitter comes over, and my husband and I have date nights—by ourselves.
Since I’ve started passing on our date nights here and there, my husband can see a difference in me and in our relationship. Sure, there are times he still tries to get me to go with him, and there are times I feel nervous in saying no. But my husband is learning to support me in this, and that’s a big help in allowing me care for me—and our family. I want to be the best mother and wife I can be, and I need the time to rest and recharge.
On my own date nights, I’ve even just taken the extra time to wash and dry my hair and put on lipstick with no intention of going out. (I still can’t fit into my skinny jeans.)
Suffice it to say, I know now how to end up The Queen of Frump on a makeover show. With everyone else’s needs so present, it’s easy for me to ignore mine.
But sometimes it only takes a date night with yourself to remember.
About the Author
Tonilyn has always preferred writing in her room to playing kick-ball outside.She is the author of the humorous self-help book How to Raise a Husband available where books are sold. Her essays have been published in Cosmopolitan, Elle, Redbook, Harper’s Bazaar, Woman’s Day, Scary Mommy, Today’s Woman Magazine, Underwired Magazine and other magazines her husband has never heard of. She was a blogger for Skirt! Magazine and Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine. She lives in Los Angeles with her two dogs. one cat, one husband, one little boy, and never enough closet space. Follow her on tonilynhornung.com and on Facebook.