So many articles and blog posts have you believing a misconception about motherhood
This post has been on my mind for a while now. It's been in my heart for several weeks, but it's been in my mind for years, actually. Ever since I became a mom and started reading "mom articles", for lack of a better term. I'm nervous to write it and have it forever stored in the dark corners of the Internet. I'm worried it will get taken the wrong way, and I'm not a worrier. But this particular narrative is one that's missing from the masses of "mom articles" so here I am, attempting to be bold enough to write it. There's a narrative about motherhood out there, and it's just plain false: That as mothers, we're always supposed to miss our kids. Always.
My children spent nine days in Arizona with grandma and grandpa. And I didn't miss them. Not even once.
I face timed with them! I wanted my mom to send me photos of them, and updates on how and what they were doing! But I didn't miss them.
My husband few with them out to Arizona, as he had a work conference in the same city. I was supposed to go with them, but this year, his company cut spouses from their annual meeting (jerks). So we changed my flight to head to the east coast to visit dear friends of mine who I hadn't seen in nearly three years. I helped my husband check the car seats and baggage, kissed them all goodbye at the security check point, and had to hold myself back from dancing all the way to the car.
Free at last, free at last, God Almighty I was free at last!
I went home to a QUIET house. I packed my things for my trip without having little hands unfolding and unpacking my things, nullifying any progress I made as I went. I took an hour long shower. I went to bed and slept soundly, knowing there would be zero chances of any cries waking me up in the night. I woke up early for my flight and actually had time to curl my hair. I put on a full face of makeup, something I haven't done in over a year. I sipped HOT coffee.
And then I realized: This was the first time I slept by myself, alone (ok, the dog was with me) in my own house since 2013. I have not been alone overnight, in my home, in YEARS. There is always someone with me, and odds are about 99.99% that it's a little person who's needs always trump my own. This was the first time I didn't have to wake up hours early to get everyone out of the house; I could sleep until just I needed to get up to get ready. I wasn't going to be derailed by dirty diapers or someone else's hunger or realizing I forgot a beloved toy.
My trip only lasted the weekend, then I returned home to have the house to myself for the next five days. Five days! My husband thought I'd for sure go crazy and miss the kids. I did too. But I didn't. And every narrative or article on motherhood I've ever read told me I SHOULD miss my kids. But I just didn't feel that way. My mom friends who were at home with their children all said, "Oh my gosh, I bet you're having the time of your life!" And I was.
I worked on blog posts. I went to fitness classes. I was able to attend my first paid event! Had my kids been home, odds were good (as in, VERY good) I'd have had to decline that event, as I've declined EVERY paid event offered me, because I'd be home with the kids. I was actually too busy prioritizing myself and my work for the first time in years to have a second to "miss" my kids.
So many articles, blogs posts, op-eds, you name it, about motherhood will speak to the challenges of it. But they all seem to end with, "But it's SO worth it!" and whenever a mother travels away from her kids, she feels the need to insert, "But it was SO hard! I missed my kids SO much!" Well, I'm here to tell you I didn't miss my kids. I'm around them all the time. I knew they were coming back. I was glad they'd be coming back! But no. I didn't miss them.
And that's ok! It's ok because when mothers work or go on vacation, it seems like society guilts them into tacking on a clause about how much they miss the labor of motherhood. "I'm going on a girls trip to wine country, but leaving my family was soooo hard!" Ummm, really? Because if I was going on a girls trip to wine country, I'd skip out of the house in rapid speed.
Why do women feel the need to tell people how hard it is to be away from their families? Men never do this. My husband never has to qualify his business trips with, "I'm at this conference, but man I wish I was home with snotty noses and poopy diapers! I'm missing those goofy smiles." Sure, he likes to be with his family, but his time away isn't wasted trying to prove to everyone how good of a dad he is by telling colleagues how much he misses us.
But that's the thing. The false modern mother narrative found all over the internet and in print tells us that if you're a work outside the home mom, you spend all day missing your kids. If you're a stay at home mom, when you do get a break, you struggle with it because you SHOULD be missing your kids.
And that's just not true. My mom told me that when she went back to work as a nurse, working was her break. It was her adult time. It was her free time. When I got my time off from motherhood, I was able to focus on my business. I got things done at a reasonable pace instead of rushing around everywhere. It was great! And the strange thing is, this narrative seems to only exist in media. If you talk to a fellow mom friend, she'll congratulate you on getting away. In person, moms can talk about how they truly are thrilled at the chance to get away and get some time to themselves, but in the media? Oh no, we have to talk about how hard it is, how worth it it is to spend all our time with our kids and how guilty we feel to get away. What rubbish!
So there it is. I didn't miss my kids. It's a break to get away, and all moms need a break! I wish I'd read more motherhood narratives that said, "heck yes I got away from my kids and it was awesome!" Because it is. Moms, it's ok to not miss your kids. Nobody, at least not me, is going to think you're a bad mom. And if they do, who cares? It's not for them to judge. You know your relationship with your children. So let's stop talking about "how hard" it is to occasionally break away from our families, and start rewarding moms who take time for themselves instead.