The topic for the most recent meeting of my Moms Group was Time: Who has it? Do we have enough? How do we get it (shuttle the kids off to the grandparents? Come up with enough cash for a sitter?)? And what would we--as mothers--do if we had more of it?
Answers to that last question ranged from:
"I'd give anything to sit in silence and read during daylight hours" to "more time with my husband" to "a week at a detox health spa" (that last one was mine, btw. Cause my body can't take another grilled cheese, but I'm too pooped to cook extra meals just for myself. Gwyneth would though...and then she'd do some Tracy Anderson method, which I'd like to do, too...and which apparently I *should* do because those ladies promise that any mom anywhere can find the time to do their exercises and have a Hollywood body. Way to make me feel even lamer, G.).
One particularly interesting notion that came up was the need to decompress. As in, a free half hour materializes out of nowhere and it ends up getting wasted because Mom needed to just putter around in peace. Most moms at the group agreed that this happens because for the most part, we don't usually have the option to waste time anymore and because all of our To Do lists are long and daunting...and most of the tasks couldn't be accomplished in a half hour anyway.
My main gripe (um, contribution to the discussion about Time) was the strange experience of literally not having the time to take care of some of my own basic needs when the kids are around. For example, last week I took my 4 year old to the nearby mountain for ski lessons...and dragged the two year old along to play in the snow and lodge until ski school got out at lunchtime. In some ways, I kinda felt like a supermom--getting up there, showered, lunches and ski gear packed, kids all dressed/fed/ready all for an 8:30am chair lift. But then it started to snow, and the 4 year old didn't have goggles, and I had to trudge through the deep, slippery, fresh powder from the ski school to the lodge (about a ten minute walk) carrying the screaming, miserable two year old...and I started to have my own personal minor medical crisis (which sounds mysterious--and will have to stay that way. Because it's a little too personal to share here. Suffice it to say, it wasn't major, but it was super uncomfortable). And yet there was no possibility of me taking the time to care of myself.
No one at Moms Group seemed to really identify with my anecdote, which I thought was weird because I've actually had lots of experiences over the past four years like the one I've just described. Then I read an article from The Guardian by a British author named Rebecca Asher, who's recently published a book called Shattered: Modern Motherhood and the Illusion of Equality, and in describing the changes in her life from Before Kids to After Kids, she wrote this:
"My devotion to my son was unshakeable but I was now faced with day after day in which, for 12 or more hours, I was solely responsible for an infant who was entirely dependent on me, utterly resistant to being put down and never minded to take a nap. Abruptly, the severe challenges of new motherhood were brought home to me: the loss of autonomy and the self-abnegation were instant and absolute. The independence, sense of recognition and daily purpose that I'd been used to gave way to gruelling, unacknowledged servitude. My life became unrecognisable to me. The uncertainty I'd felt about having a child had vanished – I loved my son – but a new emotional complexity took its place: despite this love, I came to resent motherhood itself. The coexistence of these two apparently contradictory feelings defined my days."
See that bit that I bolded? Yeah. That really hit home for me. Cause I feel like that a lot. And then I feel bad about that, too. And while Asher doesn't specifically address a mother's quest for personal time in the quote above, it seems directly connected to the issue I have. (She goes on to brilliantly outline the differences in experience men and women have inside and outside the home if they opt for the traditional set up where the husband goes back to work and the mother is the primary parent whether or not she's at home full time...and that, friends, will be next month's topic).
So what's the upshot of all this??
1) The need for personal time is something that moms--at least those in my moms group--are still struggling with. And
2) I'm not a total freak or bad mother for wanting to have time care for myself, too. Yay.
After writing this, someone (Thanks Libby!) brought a *really* good post to my attention about the exact.same.thing.
Please check it out: http://www.itsjessicaslife.com/2011/02/i-am-not-super-woman.html
And another good link about carving out more time: http://www.dumblittleman.com/2011/04/how-to-find-time-for-yourself.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DumbLittleMan+%28Dumb+Little+Man+-+tips+for+life%29
And yet another great blog post about loving family life, but being tired of momming it up at times....