Some years ago, I knew a young mother who enjoyed keeping fit. Each morning she would plonk her two pre-school kids in front of children’s programs on television while she went into another room, put on a video for herself and pedalled away on her exercise bike. She called it ‘me-time’. That same mother also occasionally had weekends away with her netball-playing girlfriends – no kids allowed – and her husband also had his time away with his football mates.
This sort of thing is foreign to me.
Apart from the fact that I can’t understand how these mums (& dads) could willingly choose to be away from their little children for any length of time, I truly don’t know how they can afford such holidays. Couples bringing up young children are generally not the wealthiest of groups.
This need for ‘me-time’ and (what seems to me) selfish acts is in great contrast to anything previous generations would have considered. Take a double generation shift – perhaps back to parents in 1950 or 1960 - and 'me-time' would seem like pure fantasy. I’m sure that those long ago parents would not have felt any envy at these modern mothers, but would have just been confused as to what was going on.
I vividly remember the first time I was purposely parted from my two children, when they were aged ten and seven (!). I had made a promise to my youngest sister that I would come to stay with her for a week when she came home from hospital with her new baby. As I dropped my children off, first my seven-year-old son with his grandparents, then my ten-year-old daughter with her aunt, I felt as if I had lost a limb each time. I had left something of me behind as I said goodbye to my children.
At the end of a week, I could hardly wait to be reunited with them.
Was I strange or are these modern holidaying (sans children) mothers just different?
To a child, a week is a very long time. I heard about a three-year-old commenting to her mother after a week’s holiday with her grandparents:
“I suppose Susie is grown up now”, she said of her (then) nine-year-old sister.
As I said, a week is a long time in a small child’s life - and his or her mind. Perhaps I’m not moving with the times and maybe I’m being old-fashioned and showing my age, but I wonder how the kids belonging to the ‘me-time’ mothers cope.