I think all moms can agree that the amount of advice you receive when you're pregnant is overwhelming. Everyone wants to tell you what you should and shouldn't do when it comes to raising your child, and everyone is convinced they're right. But the most detrimental piece of advice? When other people tell you to "cherish every single moment, because they are all precious." All that cliche does is leave me wondering if I am a bad mom for needing a break from all these "precious" moments.
It doesn't matter if you're a working mother, a stay-at-home mother, or a combination of the two. It doesn't matter how old your children are, if they are well-behaved, or if they are troublemakers. It doesn't matter if you have one child or ten, if they're in school all day, or if they're old enough to make their own sandwiches. What does matter is this — motherhood is exhausting.
Motherhood is a state of being where you are constantly giving parts of yourself away. You are giving away your attention. You're giving away your love, your focus, and all of your energy. It is a constant position to be in and it requires literally all of your patience and stamina. Who wouldn't need a break from that?
But mothers are constantly told to cherish those moments. "They won't always need you," people say. "They won't always want you to read to them or hold them or rock them to sleep." Moms are made to feel guilty for needing one night away from their children; one night to eat a meal in peace and to not cut up anyone else's expensive chicken fingers they aren't going to touch or try to distract a toddler without using an iPhone. Celebrities like Chrissy Teigen are blasted for daring to step away from a newborn baby, as if having a child means you are to become one with your kiddo, spending every literal waking moment with them so you don't miss a blink, a breath, or a cry.
When I need a break from my toddler daughter, I'm not begging for a three-night stay in a hotel with unlimited room service and all the uninterrupted Netflix I want. I'm asking for an hour to myself, where no one is going to touch me, where no one is going to make me take a crayon away from them so I can scrub a wall, where no one is going to throw their food on the floor and then cry for it.
Does that make me a bad mom? Should I feel guilty that I give up a few hours with my daughter on a perfectly fine Saturday so I can have margaritas with a friend? Am I supposed to be angry at myself for letting her watch an extra episode of Sesame Street so I can drink a hot cup of coffee instead of reading her another book? Does it mean I'm not cherishing every moment with her? Will I wake up in 30 years and regret going to Target alone while she was perfectly happy playing blocks with her daddy?
Motherhood is an incredible, beautiful journey, but you know what? It sucks everything out of you. And as a mother who needs a break, all I'm asking is for a little time to myself to be myself. I'm not asking to give up my life as a mother. I'm not saying my child isn't worth it or that I don't love my time with her. All a break means is that I need to reconnect with who am I beyond being a mom. And if that means going grocery shopping alone or out with a friend, then so be it.
I am a better mother with a break. I am a mother who feels replenished, who is no longer on the edge of losing it. Having a break not only revitalizes me, but it also gives me a chance to miss my kid, to want to come home with her and read 18 more books.
It's like what the airplane security demonstrations say — you have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help others. And that's exactly what it means to need a break as a mom. All you're asking is that you help yourself breathe a little easier so you can be the best mom possible for your kids. And if that deserves a guilt trip, then here's my ticket. See you on the other side.