Moms want everything and nothing at all. We want to be everywhere at once and also nowhere to be found. We want to impress everyone, handle every chore imaginable and spend every waking second bonding with our children. We also want to totally escape from life. Failure to accomplish this leads to immense guilt and, occasionally, foul moods.
I work long hours. When I’m not at the office, I can most certainly be found running (well, attempting to run) my household and raising my daughter. I often long for a day alone, or just a few hours to myself. When offered the opportunity to flee the chaos and pressure, though, I never take it.
I’ve talked to coworkers with children, and I know I’m not alone in experiencing this sense of working-mom guilt. Women whose children attend daycare or school five days a week while their mamas bring home the bacon seem to feel like they should devote every non-working second to their children. After all, it’s our only time to spend with them.
Frequently, my husband suggests I skip out on a Sunday afternoon and meet up with a friend, head to the mall, go see a movie or simply take a walk. I’m always so tempted by his offers to watch our 2-year-old daughter so I can decompress for a bit, but I never take him up on them.
Every time, I pause to consider the fact that weekends are my only time to spend with my little girl. I already miss out on watching her grow up five — sometimes six — days a week because of my job. If I’m absent on a weekend day, too, then I feel like it’s not fair to my child. I have the time to spend with her, but I’d be choosing to spend it alone instead. And so I stay.
And I’m tired, irritable, cranky and overwhelmed. But at least I’m present, right? Although sometimes, I’m sure my family wishes I wasn’t.
When life gets to be too much and moms still refuse to take a break, they get snippy, forget things, make mistakes and misconstrue constructive criticism as a personal attack. Trust me, I know from experience.
So, I’m beginning to wonder if wouldn’t be better — once in a while — to just step back for a bit and then return to the scene refreshed and ready to jump back into the thick of things?
My husband seems to feel no remorse for heading out to a nearby wing joint on Sunday afternoons for a heaping helping of deep-fried greasiness with a side of NFL, and I’m glad. I’m thrilled for a little one-on-one time with my daughter while her dad enjoys a chance to catch his breath. I, on the other hand, won’t even go to the grocery story without our little one ... unless, of course, I’m just stopping by quickly to pick up a thing or two on my way home from work.
A friend of mine, who practices martial arts a couple nights a week after work as an outlet and a form of stress relief, told me his wife struggles with the same issues, despite his insistence that she cut herself some slack.
I’m betting my daughter wouldn’t miss me much if I ducked out for a few hours, maybe one or two days a month. I’d probably even be a better mother and wife if I paused to clear my head every now and then. Yet, I find it difficult to practice what I preach.
I worry my daughter will get upset when I try to leave and demand to go with me. I worry my husband is only offering to stay with our daughter to be nice and actually will resent my not being there. I worry the time I spend outside our house will prove to be a mistake when I’m later struggling to catch up on laundry and other chores I should have stayed home to tackle. I worry. It’s kind of my M.O.
Perhaps this is just a rookie mom problem. Currently, I don’t see a good solution because each side of the equation comes with its own set of negative emotions. It won’t always be this way, though. Eventually, Reese will be a teenager who can’t get away from me fast enough. Once she’s in the “Mom, you embarrass me in front of my friends” phase, I’ll happily sleep late or sip coffee at Starbucks while reading a book. T-minus 10 years and counting ...