Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The getaway guilt

I have been in lots of phases of parenting over the years: the first newborn baby stage, the screaming toddler stage, the separation anxiety stage, the multiple kids stage, the I just moved away from family and don't know anyone stage, the newly adopted child stage, the kid with trauma behavior stage and the special needs parent stage. Yes, there have been many other phases in between, but one thing these phases have in common is that there is little to no chance for alone time or opportunity to enjoy a getaway with a spouse.  The other days and weeks, we could call a babysitter, grandma or a sibling to watch the kids or (gasp) even have them overnight when we needed alone time or couples time.  I remember being so bored one weekend circa 2001 when Emmi was at grandparents house, that I organized my closets. That makes me laugh today as putting away folded laundry makes me feel worthy of an award.

Looking through my Facebook newsfeed, I see posts reminding me that in order to be a great parent, I have to have "me time". Or date nights with hubby. Or take weekend trips alone. Or....fill in the blank. All those things are wonderful. Finding time to recharge is great. Time alone with a spouse is essential for a thriving marriage. There is nothing wrong with those things....when you are in a parenting phase that allows it.

But what if at a particular phase of parenting none of those things are even remotely possible?

What if one parent needs to stay home for the sake of children with attachment challenges or special needs?

What if you relocate away from family and there isn't a person you trust to care for your kids? 

What if your respite care provider was a no show the last three times and you are too stinkin' busy to start interviewing new ones? (I mean, it COULD happen. Or already happened. To me. In May. And now it's August.) 

Then what?

Then those articles and reminders of self care can be reeeeally counterproductive. They feed into the guilt that is already there.  Because aren't we aware of that already? Don't we know that time with our spouse or with girlfriends or alone will help us recharge? In some basic level, we know what we need even when we aren't doing it. 

But for many of us, we are in a phase where our children's needs override the needs of a parent.   There is no other choice. We know, time spent now, will allow for secure attachment later and more opportunities to resume a more normal life. Or we will eventually figure out a safe respite care provider for a non-verbal child, but now the process is overwhelming. Or we can spend time with our spouse at home, because this is a phase. A temporary phase that doesn't need a guilt trip from others. Because those who post and write the articles and opinions are rarely the ones who offer to help. 
There is more to marriage than this, but we do have more fun together than apart :)

This post is not a "how to" but an "I know". I am there, in that phase where a trip to Target is the getaway. Where you look at your spouse at the end of the day and know this hectic pace of life is temporary. You know it's a phase and one day the kids are gone and you WILL miss this. And your spouse will be there and you will take up knitting and you know it was worth it. This phase isn't the end of your marriage. This phase won't squash your self image or sense of worth. 

If you are in that "non getaway phase" with me, let's both get rid of that guilt. Let's embrace the phase and find the joy that is in the midst if it. We are where we are supposed to be. Temporarily. We may need to scroll past those articles and we may need to extend grace to friends who insist that our marriage will end if we don't do XYZ every week/month/year. And then....let's interview a few respite caregivers ;)

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