I love my children. I love their spunk, their personalities, their joy at the little things, their unpredictability, and their curiosity for the world. But, honestly, I cannot spend every minute with them. The same things I love about them also can become the things that make me want to hide in my bathroom (which I have done). They are my babies, and I will treasure them until my last breath; that being said, Momma needs her space.
Enter the magic and wonder of childcare *cue heavenly tones.*
When I had my oldest, I thought that I would never want to be apart from her. She was so small, vulnerable, and most importantly, mine.
How could I leave her with someone else? After six months, I was ready to take back some of my own time. I enrolled in college classes and left her at daycare. I shed a few tears that first day, but this was short lived. I realized that I missed having my own time, even if that time was spent in a classroom. I enjoyed playing my music as loud as I wanted, stopping for coffee and not worrying about a fussy baby, and even the simple moments of silence.
With each subsequent child, I feel less and less guilty about leaving them in the care of responsible, capable caregivers. I find that my time, the time where I can do whatever it is that makes me feel more like myself, is just as valuable as the time spent with my children.
I think this is especially important for military spouses. When your partner is frequently away, and you are shouldered with all the responsibilities of the family and the home, you need a few hours or days for yourself. Every time my husband was deployed, I utilized the free or reduced childcare at our base child development center; even if I spent the time sleeping, it was a little time where I could let go of the stress and worries.
Currently, I work five days a week, but when I have a day off, I still take my children to their daycare. I spend the free time doing things that I want to do or cannot do with my children.
I return refreshed and recharged, and my children are unharmed and happy. We mutually appreciate one another with a little distance!
I learned very early in motherhood that this time is often deemed “selfish” by society and other mothers. You are a mother, first and foremost, and your whole life should revolve around your kids – did anyone else infer this of motherhood? To me, I feel like society has told me that mothers are supposed to be everywhere and be everything. They are to be available all the time and to sacrifice everything for any need their children may desire.
I am the oldest of five children, and my mother was (and still is) constantly giving to my siblings and myself. She sacrificed a great deal to make sure we were given the best childhood and start in life possible. I thought this was so amazing as a child; but now that I’m a mother, I wish I could have told her to take more time for herself! She was always exhausted and worn out from working, parenting, volunteering, and giving everything for us.
I did learn from my mother and have tried to find a balance in motherhood, marriage, career, and personal life. I know that in order for me to be the best I can at all these roles, I need my own time.
If this means that my children are enrolled in childcare a few hours longer, so I can go to the gym, that is okay. If this means that my oldest babysits so I can have a date with my husband, that is okay. If that means that I take part of my day off to sit in a coffee bar and read, that is okay.
I am Rachel — wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, employee, Key Spouse — and because of all these roles, I need some time away. No one will make me feel guilty about this – and neither should you.