When I was a little kid, my brother, sister and I would trail my mother everywhere. Mommy, I’m hungry. Mommy, where is my doll? Mommy, Bart won’t stop biting Cynde! Mommy, I need a hug! It’s not that my dad wasn’t around and couldn’t be helpful he just, well, he wasn’t my mother. Even when Mom was taking a shower, we kids would park our toys nearby and wait for her to emerge. There was only one place my mother would shoo us out of – the bathroom.
Now, it took me years to realize that my mother didn’t have some kind of chronic intestinal disorder causing her to spend inordinate amounts of time on the toilet. Rather, the bathroom was the only place she could truly be alone. When I think back on it, there were always magazines and books in her and my dad’s bathroom. I know now that my mother would use that time to catch up on her reading, make phone calls and or just grab some alone time. Never once did she scream, “Leave me alone!” though I’m sure she had to be thinking just that every now and then.
Before having D2 two years ago, I really never gave much thought to how much alone time I had or didn’t have. As professionals with busy careers, Dr. D. and I gave each other space knowing the other needed down time to recoup from the stress of work. Now as the mother of a toddler, I am struck by the fact that I am NEVER alone. Like I was with my mother, D2 is with me all the time, when I’m not at work. This really hit me last week when we were traveling to see my in-laws.
We were visiting Dr. D.’s aunt’s home in Florida and there were so many kids and adults in the house that I was able to sneak off and read the new Steve Jobs biography that I’ve been plowing through at a glacial pace. D2 was being thoroughly spoiled by his nieces and nephews, safely occupied thus allowing me to totally relax and not worry about whether he was sticking a chop stick in an outlet somewhere. It was heaven. Then I felt guilty about being happy I was alone.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I worship my little boy. Adore him. But that brief moment of respite reminded me of how little time to myself I actually have these days. My neighbor, who has two active little boys, warns me that once you have more than one child your chances of ever having any alone time go down to negative zero. I’d like to think that I can avoid that fate by communicating better with Dr. D. about needing more time to myself.
What do you think? Do you ever wish you had more time to yourself? How do you do it?
I am in thesame boat. My daughter wants me all the time. But see, I don’t remember wanting my mom that much. Growing up in Nigeria, we spend way too much time outside playing with the neighbors child, dog, etc. We spent so much time going on trips with aunts, uncles, etc that I cannot for the life of me remember stressing my mother the way my toddler is currently stressing me. One of the way I plan on getting my alone time is getting my husband, family and friends who love her to come over. This Christmas my in-laws are coming as well, and they will be taking over everything-Camille at home. This means, I also can finally read the Steve Jobs Biography, sigh. I can’t wait for my sister to have kids, so Camille can visit her for the summer. I did that growing up and I totally enjoyed spending the summers with my cousins. Back home (in Nigeria), mothers have it all.
That’s the way to do it, Blessing. I swear I’ve never appreciated relatives so much in my life as when I became a mother. All of a sudden there are lots of willing arms ready to take D2 for however long to give me a break. Oh, yes and the summer breaks! Looking forward to that. We kept my husband’s three nieces for six weeks and I know it was a huge help to their mothers. I need to use this (relatives) resource more! I hope you can finish the Jobs biography. I’ve been on the same chapter for weeks now but with a long holiday break coming up, I’m determined to finish it.
Are you kidding me??? I dream, fantasize, wish, long for, believe that I will never ever experience the word “ALONE TIME”. There is no solace for me even in the bathroom. I have nowhere to run or hide. For my sanity, I have completely erased the words from my vocabulary. Its easier for me to let the dream go, then make worthless attempts to snatch snippets of a “never-to-be-realized-again reality”. Alone time for me is to go to work each day. All I can do is count the days until I ship them off to college….if I can last that long. Just kidding…well only a little bit. 🙂
Oh, I laughed so hard at your response. With four kids I guess the idea of alone time might be more of a dream but I do hope that you can at least grab a little respite here and there. If not, I’ll see you at the spa after we get our kids off to college….
I do have some alone time when my son is at school, but the moment he walks through the door…..it is over. He sucks any energy I have left out of me. He is 4, so he asks 5 million questions and sometimes I just need him to be quiet so I can just remember my name. lol
I love my son and husband SOOO much, but I do enjoy some alone time.
Ah, yes, alone time. That scarce and exquisite phenomenon for moms. My mom reports that I was practically her shadow when I was young and that it drove her quite mad (I was the last of five children so I reckon she was excusably DONE with that scene.) And now with two trailing youngsters of my own, I get it. Actually, I got it before when my husband and I managed an emergency shelter for abused/neglected children ages 6mo – 18yrs. We had 120+ children in our care for up to a month each, and over the two years we were there and I was the one they needed – wanted – attention, assistance, comfort, entertainment from. I was the Mom of the house and although they sometimes didn’t even remember my name (one two-year-old sweetly and heart-breakingly called out “Lady! Lady!” if he needed me) they recognized the special yay even sacred role I played: Mother. They didn’t know me, but they knew they needed what I could bring to them. And my dear boys now know it. They call “Mom!” forty times an hour, even if Dad is sitting right beside them. And he is a phenomenal and massively involved father. (He was home with our first-born for the majority of the first year.) Several months ago I took a heart-stopping cliff dive into being a stay-at-home mom, and although I am with my boys more, I also have more precious alone time than ever. Before I pick my kindergartener up in the afternoon, my almost-two-year-old immerses himself in longer and longer stretches of imaginative play and I find myself surrounded by quiet…sunlight…uninterrupted thinking…breath. It is phenomenal and stands in such contrast to the harried, near-panicked two hours I savored with them each evening when I was a working mom. We all find our ways to maintain our equilibrium while maintaining our families. It is so important for us moms to tend to ourselves – alone, when we can – so we can tend to our loved ones when we must. Here’s hoping the best for us all. Thank you for your well-written blog, Portia. I have been a reader from the beginning. P.S. I am yearning for a Le Creuset dutch oven as well. Oh my.
Jeni, thank you for such a thoughtful response. I love the story about your work at the emergency shelter, so heartbreaking. Your description of alone-time sounds heavenly! And yes, those evenings are indeed harried as you know all too well. It sounds as if staying at home is agreeing well with you. Good for you. I think your larger point about tending to ourselves is critical. We have to find some way to find the balance each day no matter how brief.