Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Staying up late and being a mom

Those with babies might think I'm talking about the midnight feedings, the all-night cry sessions. Nope, I'm talking about my need to stay up way later than I should simply to get in enough "me" time. After dinner, I pretty much disappear. Occasionally, we'll do something together, but most of the time, we all take refuge in our rooms. The kids need their time now too. And I generally stay up past the time the kids go to bed (9:30-10 in the summer) simply because it's uninterrupted time. Even though the kids have their own things to do, they still seem to have questions--where's that book I was reading? where's my shirt for tomorrow? I need to feel I have some time away from that.

Last week, Laura at 11D wrote about how being a parent tends to make one unhappy. But I think most of that unhappiness comes from the lack of me time most people have as parents. For some periods of parenting, there's not really a way to gain this. When the kids are really little and still waking you up at odd hours, often staying up until 10 is a challenge, but eventually, you can put them to bed at 7 or 8 and have the next 2-3 hours to yourself (with or without a partner). Or, if you can afford a babysitter, that's another great way to go. Mr. Geeky and I went out separately a lot. We couldn't afford a sitter often, but we both had the need to be out of the house on occasion. Let go of the resentment and guilt and just do it. I see a lot of people who a) let their kids stay up until really late and/or b) never leave the house. Of course you'll be unhappy! All your time is with your job and/or your kids. No time to think, to watch that bad movie you wanted to watch, to read that romance novel. I honestly think my insistence on maintaining this time for myself has kept me sane, made me a better mother, and kept me happy.

A blog post this morning confirms this. A lot of the rhetoric surrounding being a mom when I started out was about sacrificing (eat wheat gluten, no chocolate) and creating a semi-perfect environment for your kids. I'm sure the rhetoric hasn't changed much; I just don't read parenting mags anymore. The very first thing on this list of "Things to do to be a Great Mom": do what you love. Don't give up the passion for knitting or writing just because there's another person in the house. Find the time. There's a link to an article for dads too. The author of this one sums up the mom/dad quandary this way:
I think that the biggest mistake dads make is that they become so absorbed in their careers that they do not spend enough time with their families. The biggest mistake moms make, in my opinion, is that they become so absorbed in their families that they do not spend enough time on their own passions.
So if you see a tired mom walking around, give her a break. She's trying to get her me time in.