Our children change in the blink of an eye. As a parent, especially a first-time parent, there are so many moments you don’t want to miss. I've been so fortunate to see all of my son’s firsts: his first smile, first laugh, the first time he rolled over, the first time he stood up; I fed him his first solids, even saw his first steps. These are moments I would've been devastated to miss, and I consider myself lucky to spend so much crucial time with him. Having said that, however, lately I’ve strongly felt that even though I'm a new mom, I need some alone time, damn it! Society seems to have so much to say — and none of it good — about new moms who spend time away from their babies within the first few months. But the way our culture treats new parents who take a night or day off to themselves couldn't been any further from the truth. Calling me "selfish" or "negligent" for taking an hour or two away from my kid? You can go ahead and GTFO, thank you very much.
As much as I hate to admit it, I know the way people would react to me if I took time off from my kid has actually held me back from taking any guilt-free alone time from my son. As a single mom, it’s my personal opinion that obtaining that alone time is especially difficult, not just because I don't have a partner to hand my kid off to, but because of the stigma associated with being a single mom. I'm lucky enough to have the help of my parents as co-parents while I work nights, but that often makes me feel like asking them to babysit so I can go and have a day or a night to myself really feels like I’m pushing further than I should. The truth is, I may be a first-time mom, but I still need a break. Really, really bad.
I’m talking about the kind of alone time that includes a 15-minute (or more) shower, a trip to the toilet without hearing the wails of my son, a full on all-day binge-fest of literally any show streaming on Netflix.
Don’t get me wrong, I've already spent some time away from my son, but it's usually with a group of friends for a birthday or bachelorette celebration. And even though I had a night "off," I spent the entire time on my phone checking the nanny cam, or obsessively checking in with my mom to see how things were going. Getting a "break" isn’t a common occurrence for me, nor is it the sort of alone time I yearn to have, but I take what I can get when I can get it. There is, however, a special kind of alone time my mouth waters for: I’m talking about the kind of alone time that includes a 15-minute (or more) shower, a trip to the toilet without hearing the wails of my son, a full on all-day binge-fest of literally any show streaming on Netflix. Seriously, I'd kill for the ability to give all of my attention to Stranger Things. I want to work out without having to cram it in between nap time. I want to go the movies! Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve gone to the movies? Ten months!
But you know what the worst part about expressing all of this? Just how guilty I feel for wanting all of these things so damn badly. I feel like, because I’ve chosen the mom life, I now have to relinquish all the pleasures that I enjoyed in my life, such as alone time, before I gave birth to my son. Acknowledging the fact that yes, I do need a timeout makes me feel like I've somehow failed, or that there is something shameful about not relishing in spending every moment with the little person who calls me "mommy." The mom guilt is so strong in me that it's kept me from asking for the help I need.
I know how ridiculous it sounds to feel bad about needing some alone time from my child. Truthfully, everyone is entitled to it, and logically, I do realize that as parents, we need it to maintain a reasonable level of sanity. Even though I know there's nothing wrong with asking for what I need, I can’t help but feel get the immediate urge to start listing all of the wonderful things about my child as a disclaimer. I feel like I have to say, again and again and again: It's not him — he's perfect! — it's me. It's me. It's me. It's me. And that’s just it, isn't it? Wanting alone time is about me. So why do I feel so ashamed to admit that?
I need time away from my role as mom to recharge from the constant, non-stop, unending care of my baby. I need time away from the nonstop reality that I need to work to survive. I need time away from my parents. I need time away from pretty much everyone. I need time to remember who I am, what I want, and what I need. Honestly, I just need a damn break. My son is the coolest lunch buddy, but one of these days I’d like to eat a meal without catching toys as they fly across the restaurant. When I stop and think about it like that, is a little time to myself really so much to ask?