On Saturday I spent almost six hours away from my husband and children. It was bliss. Six hours are nothing, because as a working mom, I do spend more than eight hours apart from my family on a normal working day. However, our weekends are seldom spent apart from each other. Firstly because neither my husband or I have many friends outside of our “circle” so if the guys are doing something together, it’s likely that the females from the group are together and the two groups combine at some point or other during the outing. Secondly, and maybe it’s my guilty conscience, I try to schedule as few things as possible on weekends, that don’t include my children, because I feel the weekend is the only real time we have together. So on Saturday, I threw caution to the wind and met up with a girlfriend while my husband spent time with the kids.
This was probably the best thing I have done for myself this year and made me realise the value in making time for myself. Don’t get me wrong, it is wonderful and awesome and amazing (and all the other feel-good words you can think of) to spend time with your partner and children, but there are times when we, as moms, need to call a timeout. As a mom of two babies, to spend time in adult conversation, without the disturbance of feeding, scolding or changing a baby, is like a treat. And it’s just not the same thing as spending time with a girlfriend AND tagging the kids along. It was so good to be present in a conversation without my mind wondering off to other necessary thoughts like “I wonder why the kids are so quiet up there?” or “I hope she’ll give me a chance to discuss MY problems before I have to conjure up another snack for these kids” or “I have got to leave now, even though I don’t want to, but if I don’t get Hannah down for her nap, I’m going to pay for it later.” I was able to submerse myself in the moment, to focus fully on my surroundings and on my date and to enjoy and savour every bite of my meal. It was heaven.
Of course, my MG (Mother’s Guilt) levels had soared through the roof on my drive home. You know how we can cross examine ourselves, wondering if our children would suffer a mental breakdown because we had missed one Saturday afternoon together. My bravado had all but disappeared, and with each red light and poor lady with the baby on her back begging for money, I started to feel worse and worse.
And then I got home… I saw what fun they were having with their Dad – probably because Dad doesn’t care that they fill up the tea pot with REAL water and make cups of “tea” for him to drink with Hannah’s tea set , and if they spill it’s ok because it’s only water. Whereas Mom would be throwing a hissy for firstly using real water, (Barney teaches you to use your imagination doesn’t he?) and secondly for spilling it all over the floor, because who was going to clean up that mess? They had been to the park and had a ball, and even though I had to swallow hard when I learned that they had not applied sun block and that they couldn’t find their sun hats, I couldn’t help but feel relieved that I hadn’t been missed at all – weird I know. They had had KFC for lunch, even though I had instructed Dad that there were leftovers for lunch. Healthy leftovers. But it was ok, because treats like greasy food once in a while have yet to kill a kid, right? For myself, the short time apart had refreshed me and made me better at what I needed to do. I wanted to play too, I wanted “tea” and I wanted to make up for the lost time. This was a welcome change for the kids and for me, compared to the dragon who usually surfaces after five or so uninterrupted hours with children under the age of three.
I think time apart from our kids is healthy, if you aren’t doing it already, you need to schedule time NOW! It doesn’t need to be six hours (although push for whatever your partner or babysitter will accept!) but whether it’s an hour in a coffee shop sipping a Latte really slowly, or chatting with a girlfriend on the phone uninterrupted by little voices in the background, or taking a long walk without having to push a pram, I do believe that moms, more than anyone else, deserve this time apart from their fledglings. It makes our time together with our baby chicks that more special, because it’s true… absence from her children, does make a mother’s heart grow fonder.
Happy alone-time mommies!