Although I was absolutely exhausted and very sore and definitely delirious, the moment I held my son I couldn't have imagined wanting a break from him. In fact, when nurses needed to check him the first and second night he was in the hospital, I insisted on going with them. I didn't want him out of my sight or no more than a few inches away from me. Now that my son is a toddler? Well, I could use some space. Thankfully, my partner does all the things every grown-ass man does when his partner needs a break from parenting, and doesn't make me feel guilty or selfish or anything other than human, for wanting some much-needed (and, I think, much-deserved) alone time to focus on every other aspect of my life that doesn't involve motherhood.
In the almost-two years that I've been a mom, I have noticed that so many mothers are afraid to ask for the one thing they so desperately need: a parenting break. Wanting time away from your kid or your family is seen as selfish or, perhaps even worse, indicitive of how much you love and care for your kid and family. Motherhood has become synonymous with martyrdom, and now mothers think they need to sacrifice absolutely everything and push themselves to the brink of insanity and teeter on that dangerous line of utter exhaustion, in order to prove they're involved in their children's lives.
Yeah, I say enough of that. I am not ashamed to admit that I need a break from parenting every now and then, and I'm not above asking my partner to help facilitate that break so that I can be away from my son without worrying if he is being cared for properly. When you're part of parenting team and you're working together to raise a tiny human, well, there are a few things every grown-ass man just instinctively knows he should be doing. When it comes to giving your partner a break, here are some of those things:
He Doesn't Ask Questions
When a grown-ass man's partner comes to him and tells him that she needs a break, the last thing he does is ask her, "Why?" In all honestly, he should already know why. He should already be acutely aware of how hard she works and how much she sacrifices and how exhausted she is, so that when she does ask for that well-deserved time "off," he doesn't spend his time vetting her. He knows why she needs a break and, more importantly, he knows why she deserves it.
He Doesn't Assume She Hates Her Kid...
This country's messaging concerning motherhood preaches "martyrdom" as a sign of love or devotion or success. In all actuality, a woman shouldn't be forced to constantly sacrifice in order to succeed as a mother and, more often than not, constantly sacrificing actually hurts your ability to parent to the best of your ability. A grown-ass man will know this, and he won't associate his partner's need for some "alone time," as a sign that she doesn't care about her child.
...Or Doesn't Want To Be A Mother Anymore
And, of course, a grown-ass man isn't going to associate a break from parenting with the desire to skip town and never mother again. I can't tell you how thankful I am that my partner knows that when I need time alone or want to go out with friends or simply need a break form my child, it doesn't mean I don't want to be a parent. I love being a parent, I just also love peace and quiet and a nice book and a night out and some of the many things that I can't do, with a toddler by my side.
He Thinks About Other Ways He Can Contribute, So She Doesn't Get "Burnt Out"
When a grown-ass man sees his partner becoming more and more exhausted or frustrated or overwhelmed, he takes preventative measures by becoming more involved. Hopefully, he already describes parenthood as a two-person sport, and realizes gender stereotypes do not (or should not) determine who does what. Additionally, he'll know that relationships are rarely an even 50/50 split, and sometimes one partner just needs a little more than the other.
He Encourages Her To Take Care Of Herself
Instead of making his partner feel guilty or like she is ill-equipped for motherhood or that she is asking for "too much," a grown-ass man will encourage his partner to take care of herself and spend some time away from her family and work on facilitating her individuality, because he knows she is more than just a mother.
He Facilitates A Night Out/Weekend Away...
I vividly remember the first time I told my partner I needed a break. Our son was only a few months old and I was exhausted from the no sleeping and the constant breastfeeding and the drastic life-change I had just experienced. My partner not only encouraged me to get away from the house (and our son), he looked up movie times and he made an appointment and at our local salon and he booked me coveted hot rock massage. It was wonderful to know that not only was I supported in my self-care, but I had someone who was willing to facilitate that self-care.
...And Gets A Hold Her Friends
Of course, calling in the troops and asking them to help make any mother feel like "herself" again, is never a bad idea. Grown-ass men, take notes.
He Lets Her Vent About How Hard Motherhood Can Be
Sometimes I don't need to get away or spend time with friends or sit alone (although all of those things are wonderful), sometimes I just need to vent. When I am feeling overwhelmed by motherhood and, honestly, when I'm not even enjoying motherhood all that much (because those days do happen) I turn to my partner and ask that he just listen as I vent and say things I might not mean but kind of feel but will probably disregard in a matter of minutes. A good vent session can do wonders.
He Refuses To Think She's Selfish...
Sadly, we've started to associate self-care with selfishness. A woman (and especially a mother) who puts herself first and takes care of herself and values her mental health and wellness, is suddenly a selfish individual who can't seem to put the needs of others ahead of her own. Yeah, that's not true and is a detrimental message to send to women everywhere. A grown-ass man will be fully aware that taking care of yourself isn't selfishness, it's a necessity.
...And Understands That She Has To Take Care Of Herself, Before She Takes Care Of Anyone Else
Jada Pinkett-Smith said it best, so I won't even bother writing my own response. I will just steal her poignant, powerful words and remind you that a grown-ass man will realize the truth in her message, and the need to help his partner facilitate this necessity:
"You always have to remember to take care of you, first and foremost. Because when you stop taking care of yourself, you get out of balance and you really forget how to take care of others. And I think that we've been taught that taking care of yourself is a problem. And I'll tell you something about being a mother, and some of the messaging that we get in this country about being a mother; that you have to completely sacrifice everything. You have to completely sacrifice every single thing. And I think the re-messaging that we, as mothers, need to have and gravitate to is that: you have to take care of yourself, in order to have the alignment and the power, to take of others at the capacity that we do."