There was a blog post that made the rounds last week on facebook that I couldn’t stop thinking about. It’s written by a SAHM, who was essentially writing to dads objecting to moms asking for a break. My husband has never given me a hard time about taking time off from parenting, disappearing into my room or out of the house altogether when I need a little alone time. He’s always happy to send me off somewhere when I actually verbalize a need/desire for a break.
But I don’t often do it. Not because I can’t, exactly. But I don’t.
I completely related to everything this mom was saying. But I almost never actually do anything about it. Being at home with the kids is all encompassing. Even though I do other things while I’m here, I do all the housework and cooking, I write, I read, I talk to people on the phone – all of it is done while I’m also monitoring three (sometimes four, five or six) kids. I’ve stopped writing this paragraph twice, once to take cinnamon buns out of the oven and once to go deliver a notebook and crayon to my toddler so that she can play Blue’s Clues with Steve.
I’m not complaining – after all, this is what I wanted. I love being home with my kids, I’ve wanted to be a mother since I was old enough to comprehend that it was an option, and I’m achingly aware of how LUCKY I am. To be able to have gotten pregnant easily, carried my babies thru healthy pregnancies and to be able to stay home for their childhoods. I know how blessed my life is, and I also know that the fact that my day includes so many other things, like reading and cooking and baking, and talking with friends and sitting in the sunshine makes complaining about it just seem silly.
But the thing is, even though I get to do all those things, a part of my mind is always AWARE. Vigilant, to some degree, ready to drop everything to go solve the latest potty crisis, get a drink, break up a fight, find the crayon. That’s what I mean when I say that I want a break. I want to not be in charge, for just a few minutes, I want to have a small window of time when I’m just me. When I can be in the car, with the radio up as loud as I want, not because I’m trying to drown out kids screaming but because I just love the song. When I can read a whole chapter or two without stopping.
Parenting is hard. Not in the little ways, but the big ways. It’s not hard to change a diaper or do a feeding. It’s not hard to help with homework (unless it’s geometry) or do a carpool, reading a bedtime story or singing a lullaby. What’s hard is the constant and unending sense of being NEEDED. Of knowing, at any moment, all the time, you need to be ready and aware and on-call. Of putting everyone’s needs first, because that’s what you do.
The post made me realize that it’s really up to us to take the time. To recharge, to be able to reconnect with the person we were before becoming a mom. To remember, even if it’s just for a few minutes, what it’s like to NOT be in charge of everything and everyone. In order to do that, in order to not burn out completely, we need to take those “breaks.” I need to do that more. I’m a better mother when I come back from a solo trip to the store, when I’ve had a little time when I could just completely relax without wondering what’s going on in the next room.