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Are you all-mama, all the time?

Last weekend, I was away.  For four days.  A loooonngggg time for this mama to be away from the offspring.  I went back east to spend a girls weekend with my soon-to-be-married sister-in-law.  I thought about my kids back home, every moment.  I missed them painfully.  My heart hurt to hear their sweet, sweet voices over the phone (funny how the voices are so sweet on the phone yet so irritatingly shrill in person!).  I missed the smell of their hair, their silly antics, their annoying tendency to not listen to my direction.  I missed it all; it was overwhelming.  While I was surely having some fun, there was also this underlying sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I am not very good at leaving the children.  It took me until each was age 3 before I left them overnight for more than a day.  Now that they are so much older, I still have a hard time: mama separation anxiety, perhaps?

In the company of the other ladies over the weekend, all of them at least a few years my junior and all of them unmarried and childless, I felt like my mama identity was a one-tracked.  I could think or talk of nothing but my children.

Am I the only one with this syndrome?  Any tips and tricks for easing the mama separation?  We have a nutty family calendar coming up, which involves a total of 10 days away from the kids over the next few weeks.  I am bracing myself.

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I'm totally with you. I have enviously seen some of my friends take off for weekends and leave their kids with family overnight at age 3 and 4 and only this past year have we left our son (now 6) for sleep overs with relatives. I'm not sure why it makes me so uncomfortable to leave when others are ok with going away and having a break for a few days.
Four days however, is a long time and I think most parents would feel the same way as you.
However, after doing it a few times now, I'm learning to appreciate my time being an individual because I won't be in this role forever. I am actually looking forward to my upcoming weekend visiting family all by myself.

Every time I spend a few days (with kids) away from my husband we always say, "Let's never do that again!" But then something comes up and that's that. :) I just love it when we're all together, which, fortunately, is most of the time! We only left the kids once when we went for a week to Ethiopia to bring home our other children. They were almost 3 and 5 and it was awful for me to leave them that long, even though they were in really good hands. So, I think really that when it comes up for me it's just something to be endured. My daughter has spent the night with friends or cousins, but that's the only time we've been apart (she's almost 6). We homeschool too, so we really have a lot of together time. I think that's also the reason I really, truly do not feel like these 6 years have flown by. They feel exactly like 6 years because I've been there for every moment. Anyway... not much help, but I sure can sympathize!

I feel like it is pretty normal to have these feelings. Our children demand so much of our time and energy when they are babies and we sacrifice a lot of the things that are just for us. Then as they get older and maybe don't need us around so much we're left with a bit of a gap. I try to make it a point to keep some of my non-mama interests alive. Even if it is one activity a couple hours out of the week. Maybe a yoga class, reading the paper and having coffee (by myself!), an outing with a friend.

I have a 3 and 7 year old and last year decided it was important for them to have a mom who has an identity outside of just being their mother. To that point, I had let just about all my pre-kid interests fall away and it wasn't working for me. As the saying goes, "if momma ain't happy ain't nobody happy". Having this new mind set really freed me from the guilt of taking time for myself. Showing them that I value my friendships enough to take an afternoon away is setting an example that will hopefully be remembered when they have their own kids and are trying to navigate.

It's not to say I don't have separation issues still. I got my son to bed every night (didn't miss one) until he was 18 months old. I also have the nagging worry voice when they are away, but have gotten pretty good at silencing it before I get too out of hand. Also, have yet to fly anywhere without them.

Yes! This post hit me right between the eyes. I left my career to stay at home and be mom to our kids and have loved, loved, loved it...wouldn't have traded these years for anything. But I think that our strong relationship has made me a bit more unable to separate from them. They are on my brain 24/7.
I think that alot of this is due to the fact that since they were babies, we didn't have the awesome resource of having family nearby to take the kids, and let us getaway...it was pretty much us (happily) parenting, and rarely wanting to splurge for a babysitter. (too expensive)
Slowly, as opportunites arise, I am doing better at letting them do things, like playdates w/o me there, preschool,babysitting swap, etc. It does feel good to let them do their thing, and they enjoy it too.
This leads to a related topic that i've been thinking about alot lately...which is what it will be like when they're both in full time school (which will be here before I know it!) I need to get back to ME a bit, and quite frankly, I've kind of forgotten who that is.

Last Summer, I flew to New Orleans to be a bridesmaid for my best friend and left our then 4.5 year old in the capable hands of her Dad. I was gone for five days. Although I missed my family every moment, I also valued the reminder that I am not one-dimensional mom, but a fully faceted person with my own friends and interests that I don't share with my daughter or even my husband. It was also invaluable to recognize my partner as an equally capable parent, giving him the respect and me the freedom that we both deserve. And my daughter? Well, she was ticked that she wasn't able to come to the wedding (it was an adults only affair), but she had a blast with Dad and she's long since forgiven me ( :

For me it's not guilt, I just miss my son when I'm not with him. I want to spend as much time as I can with him, and I enjoy our interactions. I learn a lot from him, and putting off other things like going out with friends is not an issue for me. I like going out with friends and my son. And since he's in daycare more (waking time) than he's with me, it's good for him to know that being with him is important and fun for me. I think the feelings are natural, and there's no reason to fight them. Right now is a fleeting time where I get to relish the development of a young child who is part of me, and for me that's both intellectually and emotionally satisfying. When he's older, we'll share activities sometimes, and do our own sometimes.

I had parents who ignored us a lot. They traveled a lot by themselves, left us with relatives, went out to dinner and parties and functions a lot by themselves. They made us walk and take the bus if we wanted to join activities, and in the 'burbs in the '70s and '80s that wasn't easy. And, they basically never did anything with their kids that was for their kids' interests and not theirs. I knew from an early age that my parents weren't interested in me or my sisters. It sucks. And it makes for a disconnected family. I think it has a lot to do with why teenagers *hate* their parents. And it's probably why now, I'm not interested in my parents.

I think parents should look at it from the kids point of view, and on what kind of a relationship it's building, and what they want. From what I've seen, you can't have it all, a dashing, exciting social life filled with things that exclude kids, and kids who are happy. I realize that a trip away now and then is not the same, but if it's what you do with your weekends and vacation time every year, I think that's different.

I haven't done it yet. She is 1 1/2 year. Even a few hours is hard one me. I just try to go out with other moms because they understand the need to talk about your children

keenbeen:

I,too had parental units that didn't do anything with me. Or volunteer. Or chaperone. So, I spent as much time with mine as I could being a working single parent. Now she can't get away from me fast enough. And I REALLY okay with it. kinda. mostly. "I'm trying to keep you AWAY from my school!!!!" ouch.

Teenagers: They still hate you no matter what you do when they're little. There no less "hate" from her than her friends whose parents made vastly different choices than me. She may still snuggle here and there but 2 minutes later she hates me.

so don't count on not having hateful teenagers.

no matter what you do.

for those of us that tried to parent differently than we parented, it can be a particularly bitter pill.

I went to California last summer to celebrate a (childless) friend's birthday and left my daughter who was about 20 months old with her dad for a long weekend. I missed my daughter, of course, but when I did miss her I tried to focus on the things I was able to do that I wouldn't have been able to do had she been with me, like read an entire magazine or sit in the hot tub for an hour.

I have thought about this A LOT. My daughter is 4 and I have NEVER spent the night without her. But my mother has been begging lately to let my daughter come spend a few days with her (she lives about 4 hours away). At this point, I don't think I have anxiety about the idea of being without her - honestly, I think I just don't want to be left out of the fun! But I think we'll make the leap very soon and I'm sure it will be wonderful, for both of us. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, right? As if that is even possible... :)

Protest Mama speaks the truth. I have got one on the cusp of teenager-hood and I can see the hate lurking behind her eyes. It's an inevitable rite of passage. It's how they separate themselves from us so they can go join the world as independent people. It's the ones that don't have even a tiny bit of contempt for their parents that scare me!

I remember the first time I left my daughter - for all of four hours - to go get a spa treatment at the Olympus in Seattle. I was out with my favorite girls, doing one of my favorite things. But the whole time I was as heartsick as a love struck teenager. She had become such a part of me that I felt much more naked than I actually was, without her.

Now she is 2 1/2, and for the last 6 months, my mom takes her overnight, once a month.
It is easier now, and has become such a wonderful time for my husband and I to reconnect.
I just keep reminding myself that the relationship with our children is intended to grow toward separation, but not the relationship with our partners (or friends).

Okay, I'll admit... I've been all mama, all the time and now in the market for a little more balance. We've recently relocated back to my hometown, and while we are enjoying having grandparents and an auntie who love our kids almost as much as we do around, my husband has been entrenched in a new job working long hours and my kids have literally been glued to me for the last 4 months. I'm tired! Now that we've bought a new house, things are settling down for papa at work, and the kids are closer and closer to grandparents and extended family by the week I'm looking forward to a little more balance than we've ever had as a family. I worked very part time between my two kids and traveled every few months for that job, and while it was hard to leave the baby, I did really enjoy getting away for a night or two by myself and having just a few hours a week away from my mom-job was great for all of us. We are planning a 3 night getaway this summer for a wedding back in PDX this summer and I frankly, can't wait! I'm sure I'll cry when I drop the boys off with grandma and drive to the airport, but the boys will have a great time (and I know they are ready--I wouldn't do it if I didn't think they'd be ok) and my husband and I need the time to reconnect and have a few days to ourselves as well.

I work part time at a job I enjoy & while it is hard to leave the little guy (17 months, especially when he is crying (he is being left with Dad) the 'adult/me time' that is work really helps me maintain my sanity. However, I'm now looking at having to travel for a week in July & am dreading that. I spent one night away when he was about a year and no one got much sleep that night - although the baby actually got more sleep than anyone else.

I think for me it makes a huge difference who they're being left with. We have left the kids with my mother overnight several times and I have very little issue with it -- not only do I really value the break and time with my husband, but I know they need to have time with their grandparents...I think she'd feel insulted if I didn't trust her with them for periods of time. Other family would be fine too...my mother in law, sister or sister-in-law...I would miss them but would not worry at all.

It's harder leaving them with my very capable husband just because I know it's hard and less than ideal for him. And I know that I couldn't leave them with a regular, non-family babysitter...no way.

We've had our older son visit his grandparents for a week each year since he was 10 weeks old. Honestly, I don't think it makes me a bad parent. I work 50 hours a week as a teacher, my husband works at least that much as well. Sometimes I feel guilty about that because the work/life balance is off kilter, but I have never felt guilty about leaving the kids with the grandparents. I think it's important that my kids bond with their grandparents. We just took both kids to Hawaii last week and I was apprehensive about that but it went great and I'm glad we took them. I am also looking forward to some very important time alone with my husband!

My non mama time is what makes me a better mama. Going to work, having a family member watch the kids or just having daddy take them out for the morning so I can sleep in keep me from completely losing my sanity and identity. I am lucky enough to have family in town so my 4yo and 2yo can spend the night at Grandma's house once a month. With opposite work schedules, it's the only time Daddy and I see each other for more than a few hours. Date nights give us time to enjoy being a couple and spend time with friends as adults. We've never had more than 2 nights off but I wouldn't complain at all if I got the chance to take a short vacation. As much as I love my kids, my time off helps me recharge so that I don't get completely burned out and missing my kids makes me enjoy them more.

I love your honesty. You shouldn't feel ashamed or bad for feeling anxious when you are away from your children... you love them so much and when you aren't in your normal routine, it's no wonder they are all you can talk about! To help, I'd phone them regularly, make sure they are set up and in good hands while you are away, and then take several deep breaths and have some faith... after all, the separation is good for you and it is good for them... makes you all realize how much you (mostly!) enjoy each other! Good Luck!

Mine are 5 and 3 and I've never spent the night away. I don't mind it so much, although I wouldn't balk at a night or two in the near future! I think I'm finally ready. As they have gotten older, I've found it much simpler to bring my "non-mama" aspects back to my life, and it's been nice.

As for overnights, my problem is that my husband and I see this differently, sort of. I've just let his hesitations take the lead and I haven't pushed. He was left with family members alot as a child and feels pretty strongly that he not give his kids the message that they're being dumped on people and not included in the family life. I had more balance and don't see a weekend at Grandma's in the same way. At the same time, I remember spending a week or so every summer at my grandmother's and being miserable. I was so homesick. I hate to think of my children feeling that way because it was awful.

My oldest are 6 and 4, and have been regularly spending the night with one set of grandparents or another (they have 3 sets) since they were each about 3 months old.

At the time, we lived within 20 minutes of all the grandparents. On the rare occasion (once every six months?) DH and I would go to a concert or whatnot, we would typically put the kids to sleep at grandma's and then pick them up early the next morning.

It seemed very natural. I knew the kids were well cared for (they were really asleep 90% of the time anyway) and they both developed strong bonds with their grandparents. As they got older they started building up to 24-36 hours with the grandparents.

When the kids were almost 5 and 3 we moved FAR AWAY from the grandparents. My mom eventually followed. The kids now have a sleep-over once a week at grandmas, and they travel back East in the summer for 2 weeks to visit all the other grandparents. The kids have been campaigning to spend a longer time with their grandparents this summer.

It's kinda awesome and totally scary when they're gone. It's like I get a chance to revisit the things I enjoyed about life pre-kid, but then I get to realize I really enjoy my life more now. And then, voila! Like magic, the grandparents bring my kids back and I'm so happy to see them.

I mention all this because, ironically, I now have a 13 month old baby also, from whom I have never really been apart. I am amazed at my former self for so nonchalantly handing over such tiny babies to sleep-over at grandma and grandpa's!

This last year I went to Hawaii for my sister's wedding and was gone for 7 days. I was really a mess before leaving especially the morning of the flight. I was crying to my husband that I didn't want to leave them. I really missed my husband and children and thought about them the entire time but it was good for me to have that block of time to myself. I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with my sister and mother and go to a place I had never been before. I also knew that my boys 8 and 5 were being well taken care of by their father. It is the strangest thing though to walk around without your kids. Anytime I am alone I always feel kind of naked or like I am missing a purse or something, it is just odd. I have been a stay at home mom for eight years now and I have been really looking at the fact that I need to cut the ties a bit more. I am having a bit of struggle knowing my little one will be in Kindergarten all day next year.

How I wish every single parent in the world felt the same way we all do...

Mamas, don't lose your non-mom identities!

I have a really different perspective than KeenBeen; my mother lived for nothing but us while we were growing up. The trouble is, when we turned into independent adults, she had no sense of her own identity. My youngest sister is still at home and my mother does everything to parent her like a small child (she's 14) and stilt her independence so that my mother can still feel relevant as a person. It's also very difficult for my brothers and I to have a relationship with her as adults, despite our gratitude for what a giving mother she's been, because she's such an unhappy, unstable person and she still treats us like children and wants to be in control of our lives. For our kids' sake, too, I think it's really important to have a strong, happy, functional non-Mom persona.

Of course, I'm not saying that having trouble separating from our kids equates to my mother's problems. It's just one factor, but one that I'm always wary of in my parenting.

That said, I think there are times in our lives when it's definitely really challenging to maintain balance. And I'm still not ready to spend a night away from my 18-month-old!

I had a fantastic 3 day weekend away recently from my 2 little ones. It was a much needed time for me with my girlfriends and I savored it. I was so happy to come home to my sweet babes.

Wow. I guess I'm surprised that so many moms feel this way. I anticipated a more even spread of feelings, but that's okay.

I miss my son from time to time when I am away, but I fully appreciate and need my independence. I agree with others who say it depends on who they are being left with. And I admit I have never left my son with anyone other than his grandmother overnight, and he adores staying there.

But, when my son was almost 3, my husband and I took a trip to Mexico for 5 days. Our son missed us terribly, and I missed him occasionally, but we really enjoyed our first real vacation EVER together and weren't sorry we went for a minute.

We frequently take overnight dates, and while we spend a lot of quality time with our son and truly enjoy his company, we definitely honor ourselves as individuals and as a couple and take time for that too. I feel blessed that we can.

I'm with you Briana. I haven't posted here because by reading these comments I was sure others would be "shocked" at the amount of times my husband and I have gone away without kids. I also go on girls weekends every few months. My kids are 4 and 5 and we've gone to Mexico for 5 days, many, many overnighters, 3 days to Seattle, SEVENTEEN days to Europe, 6 days to Florida. All without the kids. They are now at the age where we are excited to take them on family vacations (we've taken them to Hawaii as well as Mexico/California), but those trips alone with my husband were priceless. They always stay with one of their 3 sets of grandparents and they look forward to being with them. And no, I don't feel guilty. I'm a stay at home mom that devotes all of my time to them. And those early years with 2 kids one year apart just about drove me over the edge, so this time apart was good for all of us. I'm pretty confident my kids don't feel neglected or unloved. And, I think they've gained confidence and security by knowing that everytime mom or mom and dad goes somewhere they know we're coming back.

I am a mom, but that's not all that I am. Among other things, I'm also a wife in a very good marriage. My kids know that they are loved, but they also know that the world doesn't revolve around them.

I'm the same way as the most recent posters. My husband and I were together for 14 years before we had our kids, and it still feels very natural to spend time with just the two of us, even 3 years later. We are fortunate enough to have both sets of grandparents in town, and all of them are very dedicated to our girls. We have never had any issues with leaving them for over-nighters, and do so about once a month. It has saved my sanity on more than one occasion (including this weekend - I can't wait!), and our girls always have a great time. But that being said, we've never left them with anyone besides our parents, and anyone else would be a whole different situation. We've also never left them for more than 3 nights. That's about my limit so far.

I've always felt very strongly that it's important for a mom to retain her sense of identity when having kids. They won't be living with us forever.

Uh...no, I don't feel like this. I am actually leaving for an all girl trip to Vegas to pretend I am single again. I find the absence seriously makes me fonder of my BABIES {1 and 2) when I leave them to bond with thier father. I am a better mom when I have breaks.

Glad I'm not then only one who looks forward to a much-deserved break from my husband and kids every once in a while, Miss. White! My kids, ages 1 and 3, and their dad are heading out to visit his parents over Memorial Day weekend and I will have 4 days to myself:-)

After reading these comments, I realize how much I - as an individual - and my husband and I - as a couple - would benefit from some time away. I haven't taken even an overnight from my kids...in seven years. And we haven't been away together since before we had kids (9 years ago). *sigh*

But if you have no family nearby and several kids, who stays with them?

Hi Leslie, we are fortunate to have family nearby, but i have a friend who has a babysitter who has become like family. they pay her a set rate to stay overnight. they started out by going away (maybe to the coast and renting a house)with the family and having her come along to watch the kids. it does cost some money, but it has really worked for them. i also have heard of couples with same age children doing weekend switches. again, depends on having people you feel comfortable doing this with. good luck!

I am mamma all the time. Well, most of the time. My mom is not big on taking care of babies (mine are 1 and 2 1/2) and my mother in law as eager as she is has a hoarding problem and I doubt I would be able to find my children if left them at her place overnight. I do have a sister in law who is a great sport and has taken both girls 2x now. She gets a baby fix and my kids get to spend time with their cousins. I hope to be able to do a long weekend away next summer.

When my girl was a toddler and I was a single parent, I worked a night job and she would spend those nights at the sitter's house. I found that her experiences staying at different family member's houses as a little girl made her more confident and easygoing. Rather than panicking in new situations, she can fit into different circumstances much more comfortably since she learned early on that she can feel safe and warm without mommy, too. Just a bit of perspective from the kid's side, rather than just the parent's. Of course, I always miss my kid when we are apart (she is 11 now), but I've always believed that strong grownups make strong kids, and you can't be a strong grownup if your world revolves only around your kids.

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