I’m going to say something a mother is never supposed to say.
Hyperbole and clickbait, yes, but also, in this case, true.
My partner took our kids on holiday for a week and I was happier without them.
Sidenote: Things people never say at kids’ parties. Post continues below.
I missed them, yes. I was aching to see them when they came back, yes. But while they were gone for those eight days, I was objectively Happier.
I smiled and laughed more. I un-scrunched my forehead. I felt lighter. I was a more productive and creative person. A better worker. A better friend.
I was reaching around for the words to put around how I felt and I just kept coming back to: I feel like myself.
Typing these words, I am in a figurative defensive crouch, in fear of rage and judgement. I am hyper-aware that I’m writing about the temporary separation from my beautiful kids – who are 9 and 7 – from a position of privilege. For a start, it was entirely voluntary – not the case for some dear friends of mine who are separated, who are often aching for their children while they’re with the other parent, and who want to flatten anyone who says to them, ‘It must be so lovely to have a weekend off!’. And from the position of privilege that my kids are healthy enough to be away from me, unlike some I know who need to be constantly present and vigilant for life-threatening health issues. And from the very fact that my children are earth-side, here with me. And, of course, from the position of the privilege of being someone who is a mother at all.
Those are my disclaimers, and they are necessary.
No, I got a week “off” because my partner, Brent, needed to take the kids to visit his family in New Zealand, and I had a lot of work to do so I stayed behind. Also, we were trying to save a few dollars. So I stayed behind.
It was the first time I have been alone in my home for almost 10 years, and I had completely underestimated how much I missed it.
Acres of words have been written about women’s loss of identity in motherhood. About that door you step through when you become a parent – the invisible barrier you cross between who you were before an enormous part of your life was swallowed by relentless obligation to care for someone else before yourself. There’s so much beauty in that transition, and so much growth and so much joy.