Selfish Mother? No. Just, no.
A little while ago my good friend (and size twin) of almost 30 years posted a wonderful blog about taking an opportunity to have a weekend away and find herself again as an Artist after having her second child. It’s a beautiful post so have a nosy.
I wanted to share it and add a few thoughts of my own. I dropped her a line to check she was ok with this, she was happy for me to share it but said she had wondered if it made her sound selfish. This woman who has carried, birthed, fed and cared for two little humans over the last five years is worried that people will think she’s selfish to spend a weekend away while her children spend some time with their Dad. (I should add that she also donated a truck load of breast milk for premature babies).
Before having my own children, I hadn't anticipated the levels of guilt and worry associated with being responsible for a tiny, helpless little human. I was so anxious in the first few weeks about all sorts of things, that the baby might fall out of the pram if we walked downhill or perhaps be sunburned at the slightest exposure to sunlight! Sleep deprivation, for months was hellish – forming sentences and telling the time didn’t come easy some days (let alone getting out of the house!).
So, when my eldest was two there was a chance to have a weekend away with a friend. It took a while for me to put aside my anxiety and guilt but I finally decided to do it. Most friends and colleagues were encouraging but there were some comments that made me feel ashamed and a terrible mother...I think they went something like "Goodness things are SO different now, I would never have jetted off when mine were that age", the tone was slightly incredulous. Mothers spend enough time guilt tripping themselves over the smallest (and biggest) of things, they really don’t need to hear that sort of thing from anyone else.
Having a baby changes EVERYTHING. All of your time and energy is poured into meeting baby’s needs, so much so that your own needs are put on hold and often neglected . Aside from the basic human needs, to be fed and watered and to get a decent amount of sleep(ha!), emotional needs suffer too (when our innate emotional needs go unmet for extensive periods we can feel stressed, anxious and depressed). The need to feel a sense of autonomy and control, privacy (ha!), connecting with the community, feeling happy with our status. A mother’s day to day life is dictated to by what baby needs. Any sense of control you think you might have usually goes out the window. Privacy consists of a quick pee and maybe a shower if you’re lucky! Getting out of the house is a major operation. ‘Mother’ is the new status and can take a while to get used to, it can feel like who we were before baby is hiding somewhere deep inside, waiting for the opportunity to be found.
Then, there’s a chance to have a day out, a night away at a hotel (sleeeeeeeep), or even a weekend away to sketch some mountains, chat with friends, drink Champagne and just be. A woman who takes that chance has EARNED that break! If she has managed to set aside her own guilt so that she can get the rest she desperately needs, the absolute last thing she needs is for someone to do is set it back in front of her.
Mum’s need fun, they need some time and space to be who they are outside of being a mother. So please support them, lend them a hand, treat them to a break!