Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Myth of "Mom-Time"

"Two girlfriends and I are going to a spa overnight. We have already scheduled our massages and facials, manicures and pedicures. We will enjoy meals that somebody else has cooked and not have to wash the dishes or worry about cleaning up the spilled milk. We'll drink a little wine, soak in a hot tub, catch up on girl talk and stay up late if we want because we can sleep in the next morning!" says Melissa from the ivillage. 

Wow.  That sounds amazing, right, moms?  How many times in the last few days have you thought to yourself, "I just need some time to myself."  You want to read your book or chat with your friends or just go out.  And society says we deserve to have that time for ourselves.  I've even heard mom-time compared to the oxygen masks on airplanes--if you don't take time for yourself, how can you be there for your kids? 

I wonder, though, how many moms who have lost a child or who have an empty nest look back and say, "Man, I wish I had taken more me-time."  I look at how fast my children are growing up, and I'm overcome thinking that I don't have enough time with them.  What if today is the last day I'll have with my kids--do I really want to spend my day wishing for more ME time?  After all, isn't that desire for me time really rooted in selfishness?  We don't want to serve others--we want to serve ourselves.  Or, better yet, have others serve us! 

What if our kids or our husband or our friends couldn't wait to get away from us?  What if God needed Me-time?  The Bible says that we should "take every thought into captivity."  I'm going to start taking my selfish thoughts into captivity.  I'm going to start thinking about how much I love to spend time with my kids--how I can't get enough of my kids! 

Need some quiet time?  Wake up an hour or two earlier--like a friend of mine.  She spends a quiet morning with her coffee and her Bible every morning to prepare herself for the day.  If you're a night owl, put your work away when the kids go to bed.  Instead of watching tv or checking facebook, take a bath and read a book.  Your time is in your hands--and you only have so much of it.  Spend your time wisely, giving of yourself so that you don't regret the moments you missed when it's too late.


Lynn said...

It sounds so easy to be able to 'wake up early' or take time after the kids go to sleep...great advice and I know friends who do it. But I've had a baby on my lap since 5:30 this morning because no matter how quiet I move around, he's an early riser, too! And because I'm an early riser and early morning is my time to 'do things', I can't stay up much past my kids at night..and if I do, it's to get something put away more often than not.

I think what your post misses is the 'why' of Me-time for Moms. For most of us (I suppose I can't speak for 'all'...), it's not a selfish act. It helps to recharge us so that we are better Moms the other 99% of the time...when Momma's happy, everyone's happy. My 'me time' right now is singing with a small singing group in my congregation, serving on the Temple board, and an occasional party plan party or something like that...but I surely won't judge anyone who goes the mani/pedi route. That sounds good to me, too!

Also remember...'me time' for Mom is many times the only chance Dad gets to get his own time with the kids..I know when I'm around, my husband leaves everything up to me and asking for his help doesn't necessarily result in his full participation. When I'm not there, he gets to experience the diaper change, packing school lunches, or even taking the kids somewhere to have FUN with him. I can't be so selfish as to not give him this joy and sense of accomplishment as a parent, also.

I am with one or more of my children pretty much 24/7, and I keep a ridiculous work schedule just so that I *can* be with them, so no one can say that's not important to me! But I'm pretty sure that in my last days, I'm not going to be begrudging myself a couple of hours here or there where I did head off for a little Me time. I'm going to be remembering the short, wonderful years I got to spend with my children before they wandered off from the nest into their own adult lives...and hopefully many occasions together afterwards. Who knows..maybe one day my daughter will be leaving her children with their Dad for a couple hours to take some Me Time with me. I'd even treat. :)

Kelly said...

I had to take some time to think about this post. My first thought when reading the first few lines is, "why didn't you invite me??" I was caught off guard with the twist! We are all different. I've read somewhere the definitions for introvert and extrovert as this-introverts are recharged by spending time alone, where extroverts are recharged spending time with people. In that regard I am a definate introvert! However, since my son is with me nearly 24/7, that recharge time is difficult. getting up early, for the morning person is a great idea. Staying up late for the night owl is too. What happens when mom is a night owl married to a morning person and doesn't get enough sleep because she hears everything he does when he gets up and can't go back to sleep? In this situation I am not able to stay up much past my son's bedtime. When I do, it's certainly not "recharge time"!

I agree with Lynn, I don't see the problem with some time off. That's going to look different in every family. As for me, when does the cruise leave? ;-)

worryfreemom said...

I'm not saying that we shouldn't do things we're passionate about or that we should spend every single moment with our kids...but feeling deprived because we don't get to go to the spa for the weekend seems pretty petty when someone has just lost their child. I'm sure that mother would have traded every mom-time moment that she 'desperately needed' for another one with her baby. My point is that life is short, and we don't know how long we'll have with our kids. I understand where you're coming from, Lynn, with the cranky baby, and I don't think there's anything wrong with spending time with your friends. It's the idea that we have to have time away from our kids in order to be fulfilled that doesn't make sense to me, and it seems to be a modern notion. I'm not sure that women even 100 years ago were begging for spa time.

sasicas said...

I completely agree with you! There is a difference between going and singing at church or hitting the grocery store alone from time to time or reading a book in quiet when the kids are down vs. the new type of 'me' time where women (MANY women) would rather spend time alone than ever with their children. I know one woman in perticular who did not need to work but chose to do so because she did not want to be around her children. That is selfish, that is the 'me' time I do not want and surely would not want my children to grow up realizing that they were not a top priority.

Kelly said...

Was that a hypothetical loss of child or do I need to read all 8 pages of the iVillage story to know what you're talking about? I don't spend time at iVillage, it's probably a whole different view than what we're talking about here. Feeling deprived if you can't go to the spa is more than just selfish, but taking the other extreme likely isn't any more healthy. Good discussion starter!

worryfreemom said...

I know several people who have lost a child recently (not on ivillage), which, in combination with my own circumstances of having to go back to work this semester, sparked my thoughts on this one. I knew it would be controversial--but that was sort of the point--to start a dialog. :-)

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