Wednesday, March 23, 2011

mama time

It's something I long for on those long, long, crabby-toddler-crabby-mama days. It's something that sometimes seems impossible. For me, it's also something that I'm often befuddled by when it happens. Here's how it happens, usually:

The wonderful hubby says "why don't you take off for a few hours and do something alone." Then I start to find reasons that it won't work, including, but not limited to--
-I'd rather that we all do something as a family
-I don't know where to go/what to do
-What I'd really want to do would take more than a couple of hours (little day trip/ little weekend trip)
-I can't make plans with people on short notice

Most of these things are sort of true. For example, when this happened recently I thought it would be nice to go to a nearby state park and hike a little with the binoculars, see what spring migration looks like down here, maybe just sit and look at a stream and relax. When I pulled into the parking lot it was SWARMED with lots of people-- mostly bands of teenagers having a REALLY good time. Not too relaxing for me.

Sewing projects that I'd like to dive into just seem unattainable since I never have the right stuff on hand-- by the time I gathered it all up my couple of hours would be over (not to mention that the big box fabric store near us irrationally depresses me).

Last night I got together with some other moms for a knitting-night-out, which was the first time I've done anything of the sort. So nice, especially these days when a prenatal appointment with a midwife has started to be my only "mama time." No matter how much I love hearing that little fetal heartbeat and finding out that things look normal, it's really not much of a mama-time, you know?

Some of my friends have somewhat "scheduled" mama-time. Say every Saturday afternoon they plan to spend some sans-kiddos time. I know K. would be amenable to this situation, but for some reason I hesitate to do anything like that. I love our family day-trips on days off. I'm lucky to really love spending time with my dude, and taking our little guy to see something new. We really have a great time at museums, parks, or just visiting friends in our old town (Friday's photo was a nice visit we got to have with our friends at Shundahai Farm in Storrs). I wouldn't really want to trade these time for anything.

Or would I? Sometimes I think I undervalue the restorative power of having some quiet me-time, and by the time I feel like I'm cooped up and going crazy, it's a little too late to "get out and enjoy myself" because I'm so darn cranky that I just can't believe that I'll find anything good to do (n.b.: this is one of those things about this area that I haven't gotten used to--the seeming impossibility of finding a local AND quiet nature preserve where I can just roam and be). It's just that I seem to have a bit of a mental-block against it. It's a hurdle I'm struggling with. I also wonder if it's just that I feel like I am supposed to have "alone time" because people always say that it's important-- not because it's fulfilling any deep personal longing that I have.

What do you do for your solitary time? Is it important to you, or not so much?


  1. Hmm, this is very interesting! My sister-in-law and I joke about the "Maslow's Heirarchy of Motherhood." That when your kids are very little, your needs are very basic: Shower. Food. Toileting (alone). As my children have grown older, and she's had more babies, we joke that I am now at a higher level: Sewing projects. Exercise. Work. I had the same anxieties as you did when my children were younger -- I called it the "All Summer in a Day" feeling! Because of that, I never was very good about scheduling alone time, and that was fine, because that period of time passed very quickly and now both children are in school and I have hours (giddy!) to myself. And having been at a different place on the needs hierarchy not so long ago makes it all the more delicious. Go with the flow -- you're doing great! But do find a quiet corner (or fold-up cabinet) to set up as your sewing area. A must!

  2. But I think the point I was trying to make was that it's not realistic to benefit from free time if your other, more basic needs aren't being met. :)

  3. When the kids were little I would find and sign up for a class that met once a week. Because I paid for it and signed up for it I HAD to go. (as if that was hard for me!) Back then Uncle Paul always worked late so I had a regular baby-sitter come to baby sit. I LOVED my scheduled time out with adults. For years it was an adult ballet class I took (even when I was 8 months pregnant). Sometimes it was a class on stenciling or making pierced lamp shades. Later on I played volley ball on Friday nights with a women's league which always included a visit to Friendly's after with the girls for ice cream and talk. I really lived for that one evening a week when I could leave the house behind and laugh and have fun in the adult world. Find something you really want to do and just DO IT!!

  4. i keep commenting on your posts and having something go wrong and my comments evaporate. so frustrating! i think it's me, not you. still and yet, arrggh.
    well i had written a big long thing, but now the baby's crying. do what feels best. you'll figure it out

  5. When you four were in school, often on the first day of school I packed my lawn chair, novel and crossword puzzle, stopped to get a to-go coffee and "set up" in the sun in beautiful Mingo Creek Park. I basked in the quiet, the relaxation, and excused myself for the morning from all responsibilities. Those are among my most relaxing memories of all time. (I also loved being there when you came home from your first day of school.) Then it was back into action!

  6. BTW.......the advice to find one thing you really want to do and do it came from Aunt Barbara. She once told me when my kids were very small that every mother needs to take one night a week just for herself to go out and do something she really wants to do. It was good advice I was happy to take.