Do You Expect Relatives And Friends To Give You A Break From Your Kids?

June 4, 2020  |  

Black woman holding baby daughter using cell phone

Source: JGI/Tom Grill / Getty

No amount of warnings could have prepared me for the fact that mom life is 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. I suppose it’s one of those things you have to experience to fully understand. There are no days off and it gets quite intense. My decision to be a stay-at-home mom and eventually, a work-from-home mom, only heightened the intensity. With the exception of a two-day training I was once required to attend for work, my daughter and I haven’t spent more than four hours apart since the day she was born. I do virtually everything — including working a full-time job and using the restroom — with her either directly by my side or somewhere close by. We live in a different state from the majority of our relatives, so with the exception of my parents coming by to visit, we don’t really have the option of someone looking after her. At this point, it feels normal because it’s literally all we have ever known. For this reason, a meme that recently began circulating on Facebook really hit home with me. The meme was targeted at mothers and read:

“I feel sorry for any mother who can’t get a break from their children. Having your kids 24/7 does not make you a great mother. It destroys you mentally. Separation is needed to grow.”

It stood out to me because, despite the fact that I don’t get breaks often, when I do, I can feel the difference. And while I don’t think having my baby 24/7 is something that’s mentally destroying me, I do believe that all mothers are deserving of and could greatly benefit from regular breaks. As I continued to scroll the comments, a mom, by the name of Brandi, raised a valid point that seemed to trigger a debate and ruffled quite a few feathers. In short, Brandi pointed out that while breaks are nice and moms definitely deserve them, parents should not come to expect relatives and loved ones to “rescue them from their children.” And I felt that as well.

Speaking from personal experience, my child-free years — primarily my late teens and college years — were filled with the negative experiences from relatives who felt like they were entitled to my time because I did not have children and they needed a break. One went as far as to send subliminal messages about me on Facebook. Another older relative took the route of emotional manipulation and called up my father to say that I did not love her child because I wasn’t always willing and available to watch her kid whenever she felt like it. It was not a pleasant experience and I would never want to make anyone feel like they were obligated to look after my child.

My husband and I frequently tell once another “We’re all we got.” We don’t say it to discount the sacrifices that our village has and continues to make for us, but as a way to pump ourselves up and remind each other that this is our child that we made the conscious decision to create and at the end of the day, she is our responsibility and no one else’s. We tell ourselves that we have can only rely on each other and that we should always see any additional help as a welcomed and very much appreciated extra. We appreciate the support of our families but we never come to expect it because we know that no one owes us anything. However, I realize that everyone sees things differently.

What are your thoughts? Do you feel like some relatives are obligated to give you a break from your kids? Why or why not?

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