Things They Can’t Say: Literal Mom

“MY time.”

“When my husband gets off the golf course, I’m walking out the door to get MY time.”

“He goes on business trips all the time, I need a girl’s weekend so I can get MY time.”

“I’m dying for a Girl’s Night Out.  I need MY time so badly right now.”

“I can’t wait for him to get home – I am totally passing these kids over and getting some of MY time.”

Have you heard any of these?  Said any of these?

I have.  I hear them all the time.  And I’ve said some of them.

But I don’t like it.

I don’t like this feeling where the “score” has to always be even.

Missy and her husband

If he plays golf for 5 hours, I get 5 hours out of the house.

If he goes on a poker night, I get a girl’s night the next night.

If he travels, I’m going to travel too.

If I take care of them all day, he takes care of them all night.

I don’t consider a “partnership” to be where we tally up who’s spending what time away from home and then try to make it equal for ourselves.

Scary Mommy says (paraphrased from her book), “Motherhood shouldn’t be a competition.  The ones who run the fastest are the ones who lose.”

And I feel that same way about how we parents approach our time away from kids.  Time away from your kids shouldn’t be a competition.  The more you try to even the score, the more likely someone’s going to lose.

Whether it’s you because you can’t get enough time and you’re angry about that, or him because he resents your need to get away the moment he walks in the door, or the kids who see a revolving door of parents in and out of the house.

You want to know something about me?  I’ve slept away from my kids less than 5 times.  In 10 years.

But that certainly doesn’t make me someone who is with my kids every hour of every day.  Both are in school all day and a typical week has a babysitter in our house 10-15 hours for the commitments I have outside the home.

And maybe that’s why I don’t have the need to take MY time with my husband. I get plenty of time during the school day and a couple of nights a week.

And my kids are older now, so they’re easier.  (Well, easier in the care giving sense.  The issues are significantly more complicated.  As they get older, they require less physical time, but more emotional time.  But that’s a whole different post for another day.)  

So what’s my point today?  Guest posting at Shell’s place – one of my favorite bloggers out there?  

It’s this:

We all need time.

We all need to refresh if we’re going to be effective parents.

Just be careful how you go about it.  It upsets me to see moms sending the message to both their kids and their husbands that “you all make my life so hard I can’t wait to get away from you.”

That can have repercussions you may not want down the road.

Literal Mom

 

Missy Bedell encourages all parents to be thinking parents at her blog, Literal Mom.  She combines wit, humor and even tears to share her life with her community.  You can follow her by RSS and email at Literal Mom, on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.  She will love you forever if you do and only give you public displays of affection of you want them.

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Comments

  1. says

    Just be careful how you go about it. It upsets me to see moms sending the message to both their kids and their husbands that “you all make my life so hard I can’t wait to get away from you.”

    I second this. :(
    Cathy recently posted..OpportunityMy Profile

  2. says

    Nice to see you here, Missy. While my friends think I have vats of “Me” time (aka time when Kiddo is in school), it’s really just time when I’m alone, working. While that is good, I still miss adult conversation, and yearn for some “adult time.” I suppose we really should just figure out some better sitters so Hubby and I can get out together more. My family doesn’t make my life “hard” ( Kiddo was pretty darn easy even when a baby) but sometimes I think I need a time out to feel like someone besides “Mom.”

    P.S. Stunning pic of you & your husband! (He looks a bit like Sting – I’m sure you get that a bunch)
    Vinobaby recently posted..Wild Locations: Trifecta and Write On Edge PromptsMy Profile

    • says

      Totally agree.  On the days when I can be home working all day long (ie: have nothing taking me out of the home), I’m very happy to be productive, but by the end of the day I just need to talk to some adults!  Thank you re: the pic!  He’s never gotten the Sting reference, but there’s an older lady here in our community who thinks he looks like Brad Pitt. 
      Missy | Literal Mom recently posted..Things They Can’t Say – I’m So There TodayMy Profile

  3. says

    Great perspective, Missy. I do think yes, I need my time. But I sacrifice sleep to get it :) Not the best solution, but it works for us right now. We both have huge commitments (him to provide for us, me to be there for the kids & run the home), so really, there is no score to even. To his credit, he does try to give me small breaks from the kids when he’s home & I don’t even have to ask. Win/ win.
    Alison@Mama Wants This recently posted..This BodyMy Profile

  4. says

    Missy this is a great post and so true! We all need our time but we shouldn’t be keeping score, and we should enjoy our family. It’s not always easy and we need to vent but we shouldn’t always looking for “me time.” Great post!
    Natalie recently posted..Oh How the Time Flies…My Profile

  5. says

    Excellent post. I don’t (and never) have felt the need for my leisure time to be equal to my husbands leisure time.  When I feel I need a break and a girls night out (or maybe just an uninterrupted hour with a book) I say so and we work out when it can be.  When parenthood turns competitive resentment grows and the partnership weakens.  I want a strong marriage, not a competitive one.
    Stephanie recently posted..The Memories I Want CapturedMy Profile

  6. Shell says

    I often say that I need “Me time.” Because I really do. It recharges me to get that time when I don’t have to worry about taking care of the kids or dealing with the house or work or anything else.

    I think that the danger lies in feeling like it’s something we are owed. Or when we are keeping score: Hubs gets 5 hours at the golf course, so I must get my 5 hours somewhere. That just seems dangerous to me, to keep score like that. B/c then someone ends up feeling like they are losing.

  7. says

    Really love your perspective MIssy. I totally agree that we all need our time to reset and recharge so that we can be good parents. I’ve totally caught myself running down that path of tallying up and keeping score and it just does not create a nice environment in the household to say the least. I agree with Shell in that it slips into dangerous territory when we start feeling entitled and owed our time. Hope that makes sense. Thank you for sharing this here.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Bloggy Boot Camp PhillyMy Profile

  8. says

    Great perspective! I do need a break. I’m home all day every day with 2 little ones and then 2 big ones after school. It’s exhausting. But I would never ever ever want to send the message to them that I can’t wait to get away from them. My “Me Time” usually consists of a hot bath, a good book and a glass of wine at the end of the night when the littles go to bed. When Husband comes home, we spend the evenings as a family and I would never want to miss out on that. Great post!
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  9. says

    I’ve been waiting 3 months to find out if my youngest is accepted to preschool next year because I am looking forward to having time during the day to do what I want (AKA Me time) because honestly I don’t get enough of it. My husband works so much it’s always on me with the kids. I’m not okay with his work habits but thats because he is missing out on the kids. I like being home with them, and I know that if I really desperately need “me time” away from the house, he will give it to me, without question. I’m just hoping and looking forward to being able to write undisturbed in the fall. LOL
    The Drama Mama recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: Too Pooped to MoveMy Profile

  10. says

    Oh, how I love seeing Missy here.  Yet again, we see eye-to-eye on a parenting issue.  If I stop and think about my groom’s extra “stuff” outside our family life vs. mine?  He gets a lot more.  But for me, it’s not an issue of whether I get the same amount of hours away.  It’s whether I feel satisfied…as a mom and as a person.  And I do.  So that’s all that matters.
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  11. says

    I do say I need ME time. Because being a full time stay at home mom with two toddlers is HARD. But I agree with Shell, the problem lies within the “keeping of score”. My husband and I both need time out with our friends, and time out together. I think its important. So while he may go out for an all-night drinking sesh with his guys–I am perfectly fine with an hour of relaxation via mani and pedi.  Its just about being someone other than Mommy and Daddy, otherwise we lose ourselves.
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  12. says

    I definitely agree with this and I think for the most part my hubby and I do a pretty good job of managing our “me” time. I never feel like either one of us is keeping score. And honestly he is so super supportive of any time I am away because I think he knows it makes me a more patient and more loving wife and mother. With all that being said I think that when the children were little he definitely had more me time. He often went away for boys weekends, etc. I felt very tied to the children when they were so little and almost never went away. Now that they are older I don’t feel as much of a need to be there physically as often (so agree with what you said about the differences between the needs of younger and older children), but my hubby is so involved in all their sports activities that he hates to be away and miss anything. It is really interesting how things have worked out.

    • says

      That is totally interesting how it’s shifted in your house.  This is a whole other post to write, but I think there’s no question some dads make better “baby dads” than others.  My husband is an awesome “older kid dad,” but didn’t quite know what to do with them as babies.  Hence, we had a similar situation as you when they were younger.  
      Missy | Literal Mom recently posted..Things They Can’t Say – I’m So There TodayMy Profile

  13. says

    You make some really great points Missy! I think what you said about you getting “me” time while the kids are at school and your evening commitments makes perfect sense. It can be really hard to balance that time for yourself when your children are little (that is where I am now) and even harder when your spouse travels most of the week (again, that is where I am now) while you work FT from home AND care for the kiddos (still there).

    Life is complicated and messy and what works for one family doesn’t work for another. I really do agree though that it is important that children don’t feel like their parents are in a revolving door. I do find that this guilt associated with the revolving door can be very heavy though. I feel like there are times in our lives as parents and spouses where we just require more of an escape. Like anything, these times come and go and in the end balance out. We all do what we need to do to be good parents and be “present” with our children. I just hope that in the process women remember they can still have “me” time and can still be who they were long before children came into the picture. 

    Thanks for the insight and great reminder ;) 

  14. says

    My husband and I joke about “free” time away from our daughter. Each of us need time alone, away from kid and husband/wife once in awhile. It’s a great way to rechrge your batteries but we don’t make sure if I got something he gets the equal amount.
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  15. says

    Wow, thank you for the eye-opener. I am so guilty of saying to my husband “what about me? don’t I get a break?” The resentment is just growing and growing. Somehow in reading this post a light bulb went off. FINALLY. I resent him not because of the me-time he takes, but because he is aware enough to know he needs it, to ask for it, and to take it. I so often try to be Superwoman (er, bad move!) and not take the me-time, or ask for it when I need it. Thank you so much!
    The Orange Rhino recently posted..Is it really worth it?My Profile

    • says

      I used to be very much like you describe yourself here!  I wouldn’t often say it out loud (because of that desire to be Superwoman), but I would think in my head “What about ME?  Don’t you see what I NEED?”  And that would impact everything I did – I’m sure it came off of me in waves.  And now I don’t.  Somehow I got past the need to do that (kids getting older definitely helped).  And we are much better for it.  Thanks for the honest comment!
      Missy | Literal Mom recently posted..Things They Can’t Say – I’m So There TodayMy Profile

  16. says

    Interesting point. My husband and I don’t compete in that way. I’m pretty blessed that he seems to get my need to get away occasionally. I do agree about talking about getting away from the kids in front of them should be done carefully. I said it once when my son was eavesdropping, that led to an awkward convo, for sure:)
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  17. says

    That is a great perspective. I know I fall into the trap of wanting equal time and making everything even. I had no idea how complicated things would get with kids and how much I would want a break. And I’m realizing that I do get resentful b/c I’m always saying that I need a break, I need this and I don’t often see that he’s working hard for our family in other ways–maybe not so much kid time, but working, managing our bills, fixing things around the house, etc.

    Great to see you here, Missy!
    Rach (DonutsMama) recently posted..Life’s Lessons: School’s Out!My Profile

    • says

      Thanks, Rach!  You’re at a hard time too, because Donut is so young.  But you are exactly right – everyone in a family works hard (even the kids!) and it’s good to see that.  

  18. says

    I certainly agree “my time” competition can be so harmful, pitting spouse against spouse.  That being said, I’m definitely one of those moms who needs some space.  I’m a total introvert and while there is nothing I adore more than my husband and children, I need about 10 minutes everyday to just be alone, with me.  These 10 minutes can be in the car, the shower, hiding in the closet (ha!), or when I’m working out.  I’m such a better mom when I can refresh.  I’m also incredibly aware of how blessed I am to have married a man who gets my need for space–who doesn’t make me beg and plead for it.  Does he get more “me” time away from the kids?  Well, sure.  But his “me” time generally looks like commuting, going to school, being a full time lawyer, returning calls and e-mails … he doesn’t just take hours to play video games and golf.  Like me, his “me” time happens in the quiet moments on the way to work or watching TV before we go to bed.  As for getting away, we do tell our children that mom and dad are “going” away to make sure we have a strong marriage because our strong marriage makes our family strong.  So we’ve spent a week at a time (generally two times a year) away from our children and when we get home they are generally irritated we are making them leave grandma’s house but end up saying something to the effect, “can’t you just go love each other some more?  We were supposed to go to the fair today …”
    Where is the ME in Mommy? recently posted..F is for FeelingsMy Profile

  19. says

    I knew a couple like this. She ran the strings on the “power purse.” “Oh, you want to go out with the boys to the game? I don’t think you’ve earned enough fun tickets to go. Perhaps if you do some of those projects I’ve been nagging you about I’ll let you go. You can go anyway, but you KNOW I will make your life miserable if you do so without my permission.”

    It got so that we wouldn’t want to spend time with them because there was a constant power struggle.

    My concern with this whole quid pro quo arrangement—it’s MY TURN to get away— is that it clearly shows the kids that every relationship is based on winning or losing, not about moving forward together and giving 100% to your spouse because it’s the right thing to do.

    Great post!
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  20. says

    I definitely agree with you on this post. Don’t get me wrong I definitely love getting in some “me time” but I plan for it in advance. If my other half is out with the guys I don’t bombard him the second he gets home so I can leave. We both get our time when we get it. Simple as that :D
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  21. says

    Good points, Missy. My husband and I do a good job of making sure we have little breaks during the weekend, but what we need more of is time together outside of the house. We’re trying to do a better job with that.
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  22. says

    Oh yes. Lately “time” has been a big issue for us, and my daughter has been known to say, “I feel like you don’t have enough time for me.” It stabs because it is true. I work outside of the home and I DON’T have enough time for her. It sucks and I hate it.
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  23. says

    I know I’m in a very lucky position because I have time alone during the day when the kids are at school. So instead of “Me” time, I want time with my husband…

    Which makes me double-lucky because my kids are old enough to be left alone.
    So I don’t need time away from them.

    I need time WITH him.

    Bottom line to kids with young children: They grow sooo quickly. You’ll be alone sooner than you think.
    (Sniff.)
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  24. says

    I really enjoyed your post over at Shell’s place. She is one of my favorites, too. I’ve just taken up blogging again after a long and much needed break. But it’s good to be back and connecting with other moms who sound a lot like me.  Now that my kids are 12 and 15, they are old enough for me to have plenty of regrets. And my biggest regret is that I focused too much on unimportant things and distractions and didn’t just relax and enjoy being with them more. I’ve worked hard to reverse course over the past 5 plus years. They deserve our attention and the feeling of being important. I hate to tell you that you’re right. Your kids need for your emotional energy does take a dramatic spike as they get older! Hang on tight!
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  25. says

    We have never lived where we have extended family around to make it easy to get a break from the kids. I stay home (and homeschool) and my husband works full time. I honestly don’t resent him when he goes out with co-workers, and he’s fine if I need time for a Mom’s Night Out. Honestly though, I like to be with my family. The person I want most to talk with when the kids are in bed is my husband. I married my best friend. I would never want to give my kids the message that I can’t wait to escape from them. I have friends, but family always comes first.
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  26. says

    Yes, me time is something I need daily, but the way I get it is to do something I like during nap time or after the kids are down for the night. Keeping score wouldn’t work for us. I actually get more time to myself than hubby does; he works 7 days a week (personal choice) and I wish he were home more so we could spend time together.
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  27. says

    Very well said!  I think some SAHM somedays might think – they were dealing with kids all day so they deserve a break as soon as the dad gets home- but it isn’t like the dad was off playing all day he was working and needs breaks too.  We all do and we just need to be better about expressing what we need and working together.
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  28. says

    Missy,

    This is a real hard one for me. I don’t keep score per se, but especially lately I have a lot less “me time” than husband does. I don’t count the hours, but he has many hobbies (i.e. golf, football season fix, baseball season fix, and races his car several long weekends). This in addition to being a surgeon, working long hours, taking call, and being away. I love being a mom, but it gets hard sometimes. Plus he works out a LOT. So his time hands-on with the kids is substantially less than mine. Yes, he does some fun things with them….but I feel like it’s a constant battle. I don’t know how to rationalize it, but I know the way I am thinking isn’t cool. But it’s also not cool for him to do all these “hobbies” all the time and I get BlogHer and the occasional girls’ night out. Sigh. I am probably exactly the kind of parent you’re saying we shouldn’t be in this post. But i’m being honest and putting it out there….xoxo
    erin margolin recently posted..ReconciliationMy Profile

    • says

      Erin – I don’t count the hours either, but there’s no question my husband has more.  And maybe that’s why I took this stance many years ago.  I knew it would always be uneven, so trying to “make” it even would have just caused resentment for both of us.  

      Also, totally understand the long hours – mine works a ton of hours too.  And that does put a lot of pressure on us as almost 100% caregivers!
      Missy | Literal Mom recently posted..Things They Can’t Say – I’m So There TodayMy Profile

  29. says

    I could not agree more! Even though the kids may drive me crazy some days, I don’t want them feel like it. It’s really my problem not theirs. I never go anywhere, and I kind of like it that way. :)
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  30. says

    I’m in the same boat as Erin. With a husband that has many hobbies that take up hours and hours of family time, I do ask when is it “my” time? Fortunately, my kids are old enough to understand that me time is about me getting to write or shop without breaking the bank because they are with me. I do need to make sure that I never say, “I need a break from you kids” even if I might say it to my husband because, just being honest, sometimes, I do. Definitely something to think about.
    AnnMarie recently posted..Things I Never Thought I’d SayMy Profile

    • says

      “Getting to shop without breaking the bank because they are with me.”  SO glad to know that’s not just me – what IS it with that?  I don’t buy them goodies either.  It just seems like I spend more when they’re with me (and it sure as heck takes longer).  

      And I don’t feel bad about needing a break from “those kids,” we all do.  I just try not to say it in a way that’s hurtful to anyone in the family, you know?
      Missy | Literal Mom recently posted..Things They Can’t Say – I’m So There TodayMy Profile

  31. says

    Great post!  The power struggle and tallying of time away can really erode relationships for sure; I’ve witnessed and even felt this at times.  My husband and I tried to preemptively deal with this issue by forming a “kid contract” before my little one was born; something I talk about in today’s post, incidentally, that helped us discuss our needs for time away without the power issues coming into play.  We each get a night or time off during a week, and if we need to flex or change that time, we check in with each other.  That way the score keeping is minimized.  It is hard when needs go unmet and that can leak into the best of relationships without intentional efforts to respect each other and cut some slack when things get a little lopsided.  Or to speak up gently and express what we need without blaming or competing with each other.  Thanks for getting us thinking and for the good reminder!
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  32. says

    My husband and I have never agreed with “GIrls/Boys Night Out”. Many of our friends who did this are not together anymore. We do what we do without keeping score. And mostly we do things together or as a family. Luckily, he is my best friends.

    Loved your post!!

  33. says

    I couldn’t agree more. I also have a set up where I get some time on my own without needing to keep score with my husband and I feel that is so important. I’d hate to be sending a message to my husband or child that I can’t wait to get away from them.
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  34. says

    I need it, and I honestly don’t feel like I get enough of it. BUT it’s not a matter, for me, of keeping track of Ryan’s and mine and making it all even. And I am very careful about how I phrase it in front of my kids. I never want them to think I’m leaving them because of them.
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  35. says

    I love this post. Before I had kids I always hated how couples would say, “well if I go out for a night then he will want a night out”. Like the relationship had become a scorecard rather than a partnership. I try my best to make sure my hubs and I both get our own “me” time together and on our own without making either of us feel like there is a need to keep score.
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  36. says

    I have 2 kids, oldest will be 12 in July. In 12 years I have spent a night away from home, without my kids or husband, ONCE (besides the night I spent in the hospital when I had our 2nd). It’s just not something I get to do and I’m used to it. I do go have girl’s nights and such, but that’s it.

    I do think my hubby and I can be the tit for tat types and I hate it when we get that way.
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  37. says

    So…my husband never takes time for himself, or time to be with “the guys.” He works so much that, when he’s not working, he just wants to be with our kids. He doesn’t see the kids much at all during the week. So because hubs never wants “his” time, I never ask for “me” time. I feel too guilty. I feel bad asking for time for myself when hubs never asks for it!
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  38. says

    I agree. While I do get out once in awhile for “me” time, I never make the kids think that I’m running away from them. Of course I have told them they drive me nuts many times but I also make sure to show how much they mean to me.
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  39. says

    So, SO true.  Someone close to me who shall remain nameless says things like this all the time, often even in front of her children.  It bothers me for every reason you just mentioned.  It also bothers me because when our families are together, she wants to leave the kids with their fathers and go off just the two of us to get OUR time.  It’s hard to explain to her that I get plenty of my time, and I want to spend time with my kids and hers, actually.  And that we can still spend time together just the two of us after they go to bed.  Why must the kids see us running out the door every time we come over?  I certainly hope it won’t have negative repercussions with her kids later, but it’s already a constant frustration for me.  I’ve been trying to be subtle about it, but I think it’s almost time for us to just have a heart-to-heart about it.
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  40. says

    I absolutely agree, although I need me time, I’ve never once said any of those things…it’s not about evening the score, it’s when you need a break your partner should be there to support your mental health and let you go out for the night…
    Have there been times when I’m totally knackered and asked him to make dinner or something so I can lay down after he comes home from work? Sure, but never in a “you got to work all day and it’s not fair, I need time” kind of way, more of a “for the love of God please give me 30 minutes to regroup” kind of way…
    kind of rambly….but I think you’ll get what I’m saying…ha!
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  41. says

    I need time with my husband more than anything.  We don’t get away (or out) nearly often enough.  I would say I get much more free time than he does because I only work part-time to be home for the kids, but he still comes home and gives to the kids without complaining.  I think if he didn’t give so willingly, I might be tempted to keep score.
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  42. says

    Missy, I agree with you whole heartedly on this issue. I haven’t spent more than a handful of nights away from my children if even that much. I like to spent family time together. That means all of us… dad, mom and kids. My older two are at school most of the day and my younger is still home with me. I do get time to myself and enjoy that time for recharging but like you sadi, I don’t race out the door the minute my husband gets home!!!
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