This is a guest post from Sarah Faulkner. She is a homeschooling mom in Washington state. She has five kids, ages 13, 11, 9, 5, and 2. 

I am still feeling rung out from my decision to put my kids into Homelink.  It has been such a long week, I feel like a piece of paper that has been wadded up and thrown in a garbage bin.  So, I thought I would pick myself up and go visit a friend.
I should know better.  I am always a better mom when I’m not around other moms.

The Price of “Me” Time
My friend is amazing.  She is kind and caring and everything I am not.  I feel sorry for my kids. I wait to share my writing news with her.  I am nervous to share because deep down I feel selfish for writing.

How can I put my kids into a government run program, just so I can write!  Why can’t I be content to wait until they are a bit older?  It’s only 5 or 6 years. Really, I should put my kids first. But am I putting them first by not participating in these programs and keeping them home? They might really enjoy a day of fun classes, and grow up thanking me.  Then I wonder if I am just doing that “self-justifying thing” because I seem to have these same conversations in my mind before a big purchase….

Selfishness vs. Balance
I think the problem is my motivation.  It’s not whether they will be scarred for life it’s “Am I a bad Mom for doing something for me?”  What is the difference between a Selfish Mom and a mom who “knows how to balance herself?”

I ask my friend.  It’s taken hours for me to build up telling her.  She’s a conservative Christian and I worry she will think less of me because I enjoy Penelope so much. I think it’s pathetic at this age I still care what people think.  Her response is, “Well, I have always heard good things about Homelink.  Of course it was never from die hard homeschoolers.  I don’t know any that have tried that program.”

Am I a sell-out?

Picture Perfect is Mental
It was easy to balance my self and my kids before I started raising my two youngest. They are special needs, mostly through behavioral issues.  I would go to the store with my first 3 and strangers would tell me what a great mom I was.  People would interrupt us at the restaurant to comment on how pleasant it was to “see parents raising their kids right.” I never felt guilty for having “me” time in those days.

We are still the same parents, but my youngers couldn’t be the same children as the rest, and the comments turned to under-the-breath judging about how “a little discipline would go a long way.” I think that’s what started to make me feel like a Bad Mom, and I thought if I poured more of myself into them I could bring back to the accolades I like.

It didn’t work. My youngest two have forced my self-esteem to stop relying on others and I have begun to find it within myself.  And I suppose that is the beauty of being selfish. To be selfish, but not in the way of ugliness, in the way that produces beauty.  I am pretty sure I can’t find it, if I don’t do something freeing for me. Maybe that’s the key, self-sacrifice isn’t 24/7, it’s a balance with selfishness.  That’s what makes it ok.

Now, I’m off to make popcorn for dinner.