I’m a hard one to beat on this wifing/mothering thing. The kids were spit shined at all times. The hubs looked like he belonged to somebody. The house was always ‘on’ just in case. It’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it. And for a long time I looked like the CEO of Haggard & Worse.

For all that I’d done for my clan, I had severely lagged on myself. I hadn’t had hot food in months, surviving on whoever’s plate wasn’t eaten clean. Ginormous breast-feeding bras eclipsed coordinated linger-ie LONG after the milk dried up. Ivory soap and Vaseline was all I could muster for a spa bath. The old me had become too much to maintain.

Nothing will set the record straight like a father’s love. One return home for the holidays and his look had already said enough but he couldn’t hold back. Uh, baby girl, you look like hell! Everything alright with you? “Of course it is! How ‘bout you; gotta go potty?” Now, it wasn’t that severe but pretty close. I caught myself mid-fall the day I signed a check ‘Victoria’s Mom’. What was my name? What did I like to eat, do, watch? Didn’t I have a favorite color? No, it is NOT purple. In fact, I hate Barney!!!

A lot of today’s keeping up with the Joneses involves keeping up with their kids – from the “right” schools and activities, method or Montessori, hot lunch/packed lunch, canned goods or kitchen garden? – so I know how I got to that place. What I needed to figure out was, how to get back to right.

At first it was pure brazen selfishness. Stuff like:

Hubs – Smells like steak for dinner.

New Me – Yep.

Hubs – You know I’m not eating red meat anymore.

New Me – Cheerios. Formula. Steak. You eating or not?

Hubs – Who drank up all the Kool Aid!!?

For once, and unapologetically, I had! Common sense soon wrangled me back to a happy medium for all but I’d had a taste of life and have savored its flavor since. I may lean to the left more often than I’d like but now, I certainly know right from ridiculous.

Here are 10 STOPS I made along the road back to Me:

• It sounds horrible but take care of yourself first. If you can suck air before your child(ren) on a plane in front of 200 others then why can’t you do so at home?

• Stop Mrs. Martyr Butim Amom dead in her tracks. Go ahead, buy that new lipstick. You’ll feel pretty when dragging your kid out of the toy aisle kicking and screaming. Kind of Joan Crawford-esque. Do it ashy and someone will call protective services straightaway.

• Stop tedious repetition. Suck up Barbie shoes, Pollypockets, Legos and the like in the vacuum. You could go blind and lose your hip trying to find missing toy pieces or bending over to pick them up every time you cross the living room. My kids aren’t afraid of me but they know my man Dyson ain’t for it.

• Nix full course dinners. This alone put bubble baths back on the schedule. Meat, potatoes, grains, veggies AND dessert? After 6pm this is too much food for a healthy diet anyway. Focus your energies on a hearty breakfast and well-planned lunches. In fact, dinner, proportionally, should be lunch-sized.

• Get some rest. You don’t have to be sick to take a nap. You don’t have to be upset to want to be left alone. You don’t have to be the last one to bed every night.

• Take back your bedroom. I didn’t know mine even had a lock on the door until 2 years ago. Last Sunday’s paper strewn about the bed, laundry baskets covering your chaise, dry-cleaning on the ironing board. Wait, IRONING BOARD? Nothing resembling work should even be in the bedroom. This is the one place you and your hubs have rightful dibs to – Master bedroom.

• Honor yourself. Call it snooty, bougie, or puttin’ on airs but I know that I am worth every syllable. If you know favor then you’ll know that you are worth whoever you are and then some. Not whatever but the essence of you. Find it, own it and hell yeah, let folk talk about it!

• Exercise. Nothing is more empowering than the feel of your own body pushed to the limit – for good reason. Here are three: your heart, your lungs, your brain.

• Fake it ‘til you make it. Getting my groove back took some faking at first. Feeling unattractive tends to show in your work. But hey, I’ve faked much less: Louis, Gucci and Pucci yet, ain’t nothing like the real thing. Be that third wife. Hire out for the other two.

• Wonder Woman is a myth. And she looks trashy. Next.

Comment and share the stops you’ve made on the way back to YOU.

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