How do we balance work, wifehood, motherhood and self-gratification in the world we’re living in? I find this an immensely difficult question. See, I grew up with both my parents working, but when they got home it was family time. We had family dinner every night (including weekends for the most part), we took family vacations where we didn’t bring friends, and we did everything as a family. I don’t remember my parents really having a life outside of “family”. I remember a few times when I was younger, having a babysitter and watching my parents come home a bit more giggly and “touchy feely” than usual, but it wasn’t enough times to make me wonder what was going on. I still thought I was the center of their universe and I think my brother and sister can attest to the same feelings. So where is the balance?
My husband and I were just discussing this issue last night after putting our son to bed early so we could get some quality marriage time in. Is it a product of our upbringing that we think we should have a life that is independent of the family? Is it because I was the center of my parents’ universe that I still get a tinch selfish from time to time? I work out in the mornings, by myself, one night a week I try and fit in Pilates by myself. Zach is trying to find his “by myself” moments and in the midst of this discussion I got to thinking about my own parents. I would not change a thing about my childhood. I have the most amazing parents, the parents I aspire to be every single moment and yet I don’t want to wait until my last child is out of high school before I start having parties again and making new friends. Let’s be honest, making friends is exhausting and who has time for that after raising children?
At a time when over half of all marriages will end in divorce, should we be carving out more “by myself” time? Will this end the rash of seven-year itches, or midlife crisis’s? One of the times Zach seems the happiest is when he comes home from playing basketball, he’s sweatier than anyone I’ve ever seen, smells like an old boot but yet has the biggest smile on his face. He almost bounces from room to room, after two hours of non-stop running, he has more energy to give us when he comes home. It’s the same for me too; when I work out in the mornings there is a vast difference in my attitude. I sing more in the shower, I wrestle more with Trysten, I am a more agile Spiderwoman, and the list goes on! And isn’t that what all the professionals say…it’s about quality not quantity? But when we talk about which nights will be “by myself” nights, I can’t help but feel guilty. Will Trysten miss me, will he remember his dad, are we horrible parents for wanting to be away from him and will we get divorced because we don’t want to spend every waking moment wrapped in a lovers embrace?
Absolutely not. I don’t care what they say. I know it works for other parents to make child rearing their only priority but I will not have that be what defines me. I am a woman, I am a wife, I am a mother, I am a Christian, I am an athlete, I am a professional, I am too many things to be “okay” with focusing on one. If I let any one of them go I might as well let them all go because each one makes me too happy. I still very firmly put Zach and Trysten's desires before my own; however, I still find time for making sure I'm happy too. I don't have all the answers, but the parents Zach and I are, the ones that like to have “by myself” times as often as we can, are doing the best we can. And really, I don’t think we’re doing too badly.