24/7 Devotion vs. The Need for Breaks

As I was catching up on my internet reading just now I saw it again.

The accusation that any mother who wants some time off is a bad mother who doesn’t enjoy her children. Why did she even have them?

This time it came from the comments (I know, I know) on a poll about what we really want for Mother’s Day.  One of the options was “a day off to spend however I wish.”

This strikes a nerve for me because of all the things on the list, that sounded like the best option to me.  I have plenty of days I get to spend with my family.  I am grateful for those days.  I don’t get so many days that I can just go where I want to do and do whatever I want to do.  I get times here and there, but hours at a time that I could just do whatever I wanted?  That sound luxurious.  I probably wouldn’t want that day on Mother’s Day, especially since a lot of stuff is closed on Sundays, but it does sound nice.

This is obviously not the first time I’ve encountered this.  I recently ran into this attitude on an AP board I read.  I’ve seen it here and there.  Sometimes it is an attitude about mothers who work outside the home, but often it is extended to any mother who wants to do something without here child/children.  I even saw that attitude expresses about women wanting “date nights” with their husbands.  For some of these women making comments like this, it is as if anything less that 100% of waking hours (and probably sleeping hours too!) devoted to your child is an indication you don’t really love them.

I’m calling BS on this.

There are times in motherhood where you really do have to put your needs and desires on hold.  Sometimes there is a little person who needs something from you and it cannot wait.  Sometimes that means giving up something you want to do or something you need temporarily.  I don’t think that means you need to spend 18+ years denying you have any of your own interests, needs, desires, or relationships outside your children.

I guess the other thing that bothers me about these comments is the implication that whether or not you do have time away from your children, there is something unnatural about wanting any time alone or not wanting to be with your child 24/7.

I’ve tried to figure out where these women are coming from because apparently they really earnestly feel that they want to be with their children constantly.  My theory I’ve come up with is that they are extroverts.  They need other people’s company to feel energized and happy.  If that is the case, I guess it makes sense that being around their children constantly keeps them happy.  I’m an introvert though.  So while I love my son and enjoy his company and have fun playing and reading and snuggling, I also need some time to myself.  I need that alone time to clear my head and re-energize.  I usually end up missing him and am always glad to be back with him again.  That time alone (or not so alone and with my husband) allows me to refocus and keep it together.  It allows me to have the patience I need for life with a toddler.  It keeps me happy and pleasant instead of short-tempered and cranky.

So if you are a mother who desires to be with your children 24/7 and can’t understand the need to take breaks, I will try to remember that it is your personality and personal needs.  In exchange, please try and understand that those of use who desire some breaks and some occasional time away do love our children and enjoy them, but those times away help fulfill some of our personal needs too.

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