I’m a very happy stay-at-home mom. I LOVE spending each day with my little man [and I'm beyond grateful that I have the ability to do so]. But a recent trip to the gym made me realize [once again] how important and necessary “me” time is on a regular basis and that I’m still struggling with this concept after 11 months of being a new mom.
This past Friday, I wasn’t in the mood to battle the winds on my run (30+ mph winds) and since my husband was home from work for the day, I decided to go to the gym. I had this amazing sense of freedom as I drove along Hylan Blvd, singing to Christmas music on the radio. I wasn’t worried about waiting too long at a red light (my son is great until we stop at a long red light) or preoccupied with singing nursery rhymes to keep him entertained. I wasn’t looking in the rearview mirror every 45-60 seconds to check on him (okay, maybe I still was – but that’s only because it’s habit). It was extremely liberating to know that I was alone and driving someplace to do something that I wanted to do. And I was going to be alone for the next two hours! JOY!
When he was first born, I felt that I was a bad mother if he cried or if I thought about doing something other than staying home with him. My “job” was to be with my son – I was his source of nourishment, his provider. In my mind, that meant that I had to be with him 24/7. In the first few months of his life, I didn’t do much of ANYTHING except stay home and take care of him.
As a new mom, I NEVER wanted to leave his side. I was breastfeeding on demand – so anytime he fussed or cried, I would offer to nurse him after checking his diaper and/or rocking him for a bit [regardless of when he nursed last]. When he was hungry, I fed him. This meant that I always had to be “on call”. My son did not take a bottle until he was 4 months old, so pumping and leaving milk for my husband was not an option.
I wouldn’t leave for a run unless he had just been fed AND was asleep. At that point, I would head either to the gym in our apartment complex or outside where I’d stay within 2 miles of the apartment. And even when I did manage to go for a run, the time was not relaxed and enjoyable. I ran with my cell phone and would receive a call the moment he started getting fussy – so I was constantly checking my phone and worrying that he was up. I didn’t go anywhere without him either – he was attached to me (literally and figuratively) for months.
There were plenty of people [family, friends] who told me to make time for myself – to ensure I was relaxing and taking a break. But I had this perception that I needed to do everything and be with my son 24/7 in order to be a good mom.
Sometime when my son was four or five months old, I reached a point where I was stressed all the time, losing patience and becoming way too frustrated (with my son and family), and sad because I was not enjoying motherhood. Thankfully, I have amazing an amazing mother and husband who helped me realized that I needed make a change with how I was approaching being a mother.
Over the last several months, I’ve made time for myself. I run 5-6 days/wk, my husband and I have attended several weddings or work functions (including two out-of-state overnighters), we’ve had nights out together, and I’ve gone out to dinner with friends. And despite doing all these things without my son, I know I am a good mother.
I’ve learned that a daily break from my son does not make me a bad mother – it allows me to clear my head and provides me with the opportunity to return calm, full of patience, and more willing to devote my complete attention to my son.
Did/do you have a hard time leaving your child or doing things without them? How do you spend your “me” time??