When I was 20 and my Mom was 38, my Mom decided that after twenty years of being what used to be called a housewife, she was tired. She went out and got a full time job and declared that Friday nights were hers. That on Friday night she was not cooking, cleaning or doing anything for anyone else other than herself. She was going to meet up with her friends and have fun! When she first made this declaration despite the fact that I was already out of the house, it caused huge ripples in my parents’ marriage and in our family. I mean why was she going out?
At the time, I admit it was rather confusing to me but it was clear that having one night a week that was hers and hers alone made her very happy. She still had one underage kiddo at home, my brother who was about nine or ten. But who was also at an age where not having Mama home at bedtime wasn’t going to cause him any great stress. My mom continued to work full time and take her Fridays as well as an annual trip to the Upper Peninsula with her girls until she died a premature death at 50.
As the years have gone by and I have gone through the ups and downs of navigating motherhood, marriage and a professional life; suddenly a night a week to myself started looking good. So last year I decided to follow in my mother’s footsteps and take Friday night for myself…the result? A happier mama/wife/ worker who revels in knowing that weekly I will get time to myself, guilt free time, where sometimes I get together with friends for margaritas or just relax with a coffee and a book. For me taking a break from the world allows me to better manage the stresses of daily life and if Mama is happy, everyone is happy.
I admit it took time to get over the idea that I was being a “bad” mama and doing something wrong by putting myself on the calendar every week. In today’s world of hyper-parenting it occasionally feels wrong to take care of ourselves because somewhere along the way, the parenting rules were rewritten and it seems mothers are only mothers. Too many times if we do something for ourselves, we feel the need to justify it and the question I have is why? Who said mothers are just mothers? We existed before our kids were born and as the mother of a 21 year old man, I am learning that we will exist after our babies grow up and have their own lives. For whatever reasons, the guilt that seems to be part of mothers lives is for the most part absent from father’s lives. Can we say double standard?
It seems last week when I was out playing the role of Grinch to poor kiddos, the Wall Street Journal published a piece on “mom bloggers” and insinuated that blogger conferences are nothing more than a “guilt free, child free” reason to leave home. Plenty of bloggers have responded to this piece and while I personally have never attended a blogging conference I have it on good authority that are more than just this “But they also will get decked out in ornate hats as they sip mint juleps at a Kentucky Derby party and will don capri pants for a 1950s-themed barbecue on a cliff overlooking the beach. Throughout the conference, they can stroll through the expo that will be set up to let event sponsors connect with attendees. Organizers hope the expo space has the feel of a French market: chalkboard signs, fruit and flower carts, cypress trees.”
Clearly blogging is work, with many women using blogging as a way to earn a living and expand their professional horizons. For many bloggers, conferences are a way to move their work ahead and yes they do provide a break from the usual routine since most bloggers aren’t traveling with their kids in tow. But even if a mom blogger is just attending a conference to catch a break from the daily grind and just wants to get decked out in an ornate hat and let loose …what is the problem?
Why must we as women constantly justify our choices to the world at large? Who is creating these standards that define us and put us in boxes? I am sick and tired of grown folks needing to feel any type of guilt over their choices. Frankly I think we all need breaks, but if someone else doesn’t feel that way, that is fine too. Variety is the spice of life and we all need to strive to live in a manner that feels intentional and honest to us without fear of judgment.
As for the Wall Street Journal, quit demeaning women’s work and creating an environment that stokes insecurity. Besides that piece was filled with assumptions and you know what they say about assumptions….