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The Thing that Makes Me a Better Mother…that I Don’t Like to Admit

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I am with my child all the time. Most of the time, I adore it. We have a wonderful little routine that carries us from day to day. We see friends, we color, we play, and at bedtime, he has to give me about ten hugs and kisses before he’s okay with me going downstairs. It’s so cute.

I wouldn’t trade my relationship with him for anything. I love to have all this time with him. It’s amazing.

Except, sometimes, I need a break. And not a two hour nap time break, but a full day and a half, or an overnight….by myself.  I need to sleep past 5:30, (yup, my kid is an early riser) I need to take a shower without an audience, or I want to do things just for me, like going shopping for a dress, or going out to lunches that don’t include highchairs.

The first time my husband took my son on an overnight without me, I had tears in my eyes as they drove away. What would I miss? Would he need me and I wasn’t there? What if he didn’t understand and he cried?

But then, he had a great time, and when they returned, I was like a new person. That one night had given me just enough time to find myself a bit again, to play, to have a chat with a friend on my own time, and it was amazing.

It’s just so freeing. You don’t realize it, because it happens slowly, but when you have kids, you slowly retract into your new identity. Before you know it, taking twenty minutes to leave the house is completely normal. You think about the shoes you’re putting on only in terms of how much running you’re going to be doing, not how well they match your ensemble. You think about choosing restaurants in terms of “do they have highchairs?” And before you know it, you’re deep in the world of mom.

So, every so often, when my husband whisks my son away for some father/son time, it amazes me how quickly I remember what it used to be like. I still fight it. I still say, “I’ll come too, or I don’t need time alone,” but then, when it’s happening, I love it. Shopping in the middle of the day, bookstore trips after dark, and turning on the television whenever I want, feels so luxurious and awesome. It just feels great to take care of myself and my wants and needs for a day or so.

When they get home, my husband tells me how much fun they had, and for a minute, I’m a little envious. But then, I remember how much fun I had. And as much as I don’t want to admit it, sometimes, having a little space makes me a better parent.

This is one of the perks of toddlerhood. You can let go a little. As much as I resist it, it’s good for me, it’s good for my husband, and it’s good for my son.

Do you ever get time alone? How do you feel about it? 

5 comments… add one
  • Nicole August 5, 2012, 3:41 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I have 18mo twin girls and I’m just planning my first day & night away from them to go on a hiking trip with my BFF’s (what we love to do and I no longer get to do) and it’s tearing me up to think that the day I leave is quickly approaching. This makes me feel much better! And I know it will also be nice for my husband to spend that alone time with them as well.

  • Nikki August 5, 2012, 4:38 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I spend all day every day with my 16 month old, and in a few weeks my husband and I are going abroad for nine days! He will be in the best care ever, but you can imagine the angst I am feeling about this. Nine days is different than one. I am SO excited to go but cannot fathom how much I will miss him! I just keep telling myself he will have so much fun, so will we, and honestly a trip like this will probably never happen again. Ever.
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  • ME August 5, 2012, 6:17 pm

    It’s tough to let go, but when you do, they’re ok and that’s because you’ve instilled a sense of safety and security in them.

  • Wendy August 5, 2012, 10:44 pm

    Wonderful post and an excellent reality check. As parents we need to recharge and re-energize ourselves so that we can be all that more present with our children. Recently, I planned a “me” day and had a full body massage and got my hair cut…it was fabulous and relaxing. I wish I could do it every week but for now, I will settle for the treat once and awhile. My husband and I have a weekly treat when we each get to sleep in one day of the weekend. My day is usually Sunday and I look forward to it all week long. I usually sleep in until 10:30 or 11:00am and for this night owl, that is awesome. It also gives me time to do things much later on Saturday night too. I highly recommend it to any parent. I think what I have in the back of my mind is that one day our babies will grow up and that we will still need to know what it is to be more than a parent (still always a parent) but well-rounded in ourselves and know what we enjoy and have a hobby or passion and maintain friendships. So I think time for yourself serves more than one purpose and it is healthy. I want my daughter to see a healthy and happy mom (most of the time;) )

  • Meredith August 6, 2012, 3:46 pm

    Oh my–can so relate to all of this! Always feel so awful when I’m first leaving them, but then am so, so grateful for the break. And then I never want my alone time to end…! Since I truly thrive on and am restored by time by myself, I am finding the constant companionship of my little ones challenging…anyway, thanks for writing about this :)
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