A short while ago, the Photo Addict posted an entry about her single friends. She described how she thought it was important to have those childless friends to go out with every once in a while and have some fun on your own. She got a rather aggressive comment on the post in which the commenter accused her of being selfish and even blamed Little C’s delayed speech on her not spending enough time with him.
Let me assure you right here, the Photo Addict is not out partying every night. Or if she is, she’s not inviting me, and if that’s the case then I shall stomp my foot and sever our friendship forever.
But beyond that, her post and the comment really made me think. As a Gen X Mom, I think it’s particularly hard for me because I had a very rich, full life before becoming a mother. I had friends, hobbies, interests, and was fiercely independent. The first time I picked up the phone and said, “Hi, it’s Mouse’s Mom,” it was shockingly bittersweet. On the one hand, Mouse was a long-awaited child and it was amazing to be able to call myself a mother, but on the other hand, I couldn’t help but think about how my identity is now defined in terms of another person. One I love very much, but someone who is not just me.
After a brief existential crisis, I decided I had no intention of ditching my own individual identity. I love being Mouse’s Mom, but I also love being The Scriv, and I don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. I think it’s important and healthy for moms to have an identity of their own. I’m not saying we should neglect our children, but getting out of the house or having something else to focus on not only recharges my batteries, it makes me a better mom. And I think it’s a good message to send to Mouse too. My family is absolutely the most important thing in my life, but it’s not the only important thing in my life.
But what does that mean, that I recharge my batteries, and how does that make me a better mom? Well, children take a lot of energy and patience. That last part is not my strong point. As a stay at home mom, most of my day revolves around Mouse, and while I love him and know I’m lucky to be with him, it’s also really draining to do the same thing over and over. It’s like I give, give, give all day until I have nothing to give anymore, and then do it all the next day, and the next. That’s what’s draining. And when I get drained, the first thing to go is my patience. So what does a drained person do to get refilled? The fun times with Mouse certainly help, but I also find that the best way to refill is to take, take, take. And to do that, I need something other than Mouse. I need to take it easy, take care of myself, take time to socialize with my friends, take a moment to savor that I don’t need to keep an eye on my busy boy constantly. That’s what refills me. And when I’m refilled and recharged, I have more patience and I’m much more able to recognize the positive than get bogged down in the difficulty.
So a couple of months ago I celebrated my non-mom identity. Three of my childless friends and I went up to the cabin for the weekend–just us girls. We tobaggoned, we sipped wine by the fire, we painted our toenails, we ate a lot, and I didn’t change a single diaper. Did I miss Mouse? Sure.
But I’m already mentally planning the next cabin trip.