Friday, March 9, 2012

To “Me Time” or To “We Time”? That is The Question.

This weekend, my husband will be going out on Saturday night and Sunday night to socialize with his friends. He will also probably go to the gym for an hour or two at some point on Sunday. Me? I’ll be no more than two feet away from Emmy, for the 60 plus hours that stretch from Friday night to Monday morning.

But don’t read resentment in the tone of that statement. There honestly is none. The fact of the matter is, my husband asked if I wanted to hire a babysitter so I could go with him on Sunday night, and I said no. My husband would also be MORE than happy to watch Em if I wanted to take a break and go join a Zumba class, or take a walk, or just go lie down for an hour or so.

So what’s my issue? It’s simple. I have an acute case of the “working mommy guilt complex”. I just can’t let go of “we time” in order to grab some well-deserved, much-needed “me time”. It’s crazy! I get jealous whenever I overhear other women talking about their plans to get together with their friends for dinner and drinks, or go see a show at one of the local theaters. But if one of my girlfriends calls up and tries to make plans with me, I start stuttering and pacing around, coming up with lame excuses as to why I can’t join in the fun.

This is how my inner conversation goes, every time I consider going out SANS Emmy on the weekend:

Non-mama self: Hey, mama! So, going out to dinner and a movie with the girls sounds like a GREAT TIME, doesn’t it?

Mama self: Yeah, that sounds terrific! Let’s do it!! (Pause)Um… except…

Non-mama self: Oh lord, here we go again…

Mama self: But I only have 60 hours to be with Emmy before I have to go back to work again! I have to make the most of EVERY frikkin' minute!

Non-mama self: By the time the evening rolls around, Em is going to be sleepy and cranky anyways, so you aren’t going to be missing out on much “quality time," you know.

Mama self: But I’ll miss feeding her dinner – it’s so much fun feeding her dinner! And what if she learns to say a new word, like “pasta”, and I’m not there to hear it? I will feel SO bad. Oh, and getting Em into her pajamas while she is screaming bloody murder? That’s always tons of fun. I wouldn’t want to miss that.

Non-mama self: Seriously, don’t you MISS the parts of you that are not defined as “Emmy’s mama”?

Mama-self: Well, yeah, but I get a break from being “mama” 35 hours a week!

Non-mama: That’s called work. That’s hardly a break. You NEED “you time”! If you don’t get “you time”, you will begin to begrudge Emmy for requiring all of your energy. Plus besides, your friends will start to hate you for not hanging out with them.

Mama-self: But I don’t begrudge the time I spend with Emmy. Sure, I’d like to get to the gym, and hang out with the girls, and work on my art projects again, and go on more than a once-a-month date with the hubster. But if I don’t spend the entire weekend with Em, I’m worried that I will get to the office on Monday, and feel like I didn’t get my entire “mama fix” satisfied. I’ll have to go through another FIVE WHOLE DAYS before I get another opportunity for REAL one-on-one time with the little one.

Non-mama self: You’re crazy. I give up. I’ll come back when Emmy is twelve, and SHE doesn’t want to spend any time with YOU. Maybe you will want a social life THEN.

This debate happens ALL THE TIME. Every once in a while, the non-mama part of me will win the argument, and I WILL go to the gym, or on a date with my husband. But most of the time (by quite a wide margin), it’s the mama-self that wins.

What about you? Do you go through this same (or a similar) inner battle of “me time” vs. “we time”? Who wins, your mama-self, or your non-mama self?

And yes, I am totally looking forward to being told I am crazy by all the working mamas who still manage to have a social life and an active gym membership, who feel guilty about nothing.


  1. For the record, I don't think you're crazy. I do miss you though!

    From what I hear from the mama's I'm friends with, know from the gym, the ones I read about and what not is that they feel like they are better mama's by getting a bit of time to work out, decompress, be with the girls, etc. One mom decided that she had to go back to work because she worked hard for her education and she wanted to model the type of woman she wanted her daughter to be. One mom makes it a point to work out while her kids are at swim lessons because she says she can't teach them that physical activity and fitness is healthy and they should do healthy things if she's not doing it herself. I've heard lots of similar examples from other moms too.

    Just something to think about. xoxo

  2. my non-mama self wins. i think this is largely because i don't work full time, and at most, have 12 hours of childcare any given week. so i get puh-lenty of time with my kiddo. i've been thinking lately how different this would feel if i were working more. i hung out w/ a friend who works several days a week and during our time with the kids, she wanted to be so involved, playing with the marbles, coming up with new games and ideas. and i wanted to sit on the beanbags in the corner and watch and zone out. noticing that really struck me--i'd probably get in there a lot more if i had less time with J, but since i have lots, i often spend that time trying to get him to play independently so i can sit and stare. my overarching thought on this and most parenting things is this: the best thing i can give my son is a happy mother. and a mother that actively does things to stay balanced and healthy and happy. Do I always feel this way? Hell no. Do I work towards it? Yes. So when I am leaving him at daycare or with his dad and I feel that inner pang of sadness, like I should stay, I just remind myself that I need the variety. It makes me more THERE with him when I am there.

    1. Thank you so much for responding - your words totally hit home with me. As a working mama, I feel like when I am with Emmy, I need to be totally involved and "hands on" all the time (like your friend). Frankly, it leaves me exhausted, especially on Saturdays when it is just the two of us - which gives me a helluvalot more respect for non-working mamas who watch their kids so much more than I do mine :). I am completely, 100% sure that if I was with Emmy all day during the week too, I would feel exactly the same way you do, and would be encouraging Em to play independently so I could just zone out every once in a while.
      I also agree that a happy mom is a gift to a child (very well put). Its just a struggle for me to acknowledge, WITHOUT guilt, that other activities AWAY from my child may provide me with as much happiness and satisfaction as hanging out with Emmy does.
      I am going to try to be better about reasoning with that post-leaving-Emmy pang of sadness you talk about . I think the more I reason with it, the more it will dissipate, and the easier it will become for me to step away without being torn up inside.
      Thanks so much again for commenting.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts - it's nice to know I'm not the only one feeling like this! I'm right there with you-- a full-time working mama who can't wait to spend quality, uninterrupted time with her baby on the weekends, and has willingly set the rest of her life on hold for the time being. I've definitely declined plans with my friends and even skipped special events just to stay home with my little one and play on the floor together, have lunch together, go for strolls around the neighborhood, all things I miss during the week when I'm at the office. They're only this age once and I figure I'll have plenty of opportunities for "me-time" when they're 6 or 7 and at a friend's house or something.

    One thing that has worked for me is socializing with friends after baby has gone to bed for the night. Our baby goes down at the same time each night (about 7:30 pm) so I try to plan my rare girls nights out (or in) for after he goes down. That way I'm not feeling guilty like I'm missing out on quality time I could be spending with him. Perhaps you could give that a try?

    1. Wow, it kinda sounds like we are living parallel lives :) I go through all the emotions you talk about, and feel not just guilty, but like I don't even WANT to sacrifice all the big and little moments that Em and I share in order to hang out with friends, or do my artwork, or anything, really. I have begun to use the same reasoning that you do, telling myself that there will be plenty of time for me to rediscover and reconnect with all the things that have been put on the back burner once Em has grown into a girl who prefers to hang out at her friends' houses :)

      Every once in a while, my hubby and I sneak away after Em is already asleep, or is about to go to bed. That is the only way I can hang out with my husband WITHOUT being distracted by thoughts of what Emmy might be doing, and can concentrate on having real and romantic time with my husband. A few folks have also suggested that I should consider having people over to our house (like your "Girls' Night In"), so I can both hang out with my friends AND hang out with Emmy. Em's still not sleeping through the night, so I worry about the noise of company waking and keeping her up, but maybe that is just me making excuses. Have your "nights in" worked out well?

      Many thanks for your thoughtful and caring response,