by Patty, Pancakes Gone Awry
I haven’t had an entire day to myself in 9 months. Heck, I haven’t even had a couple consecutive hours to myself since then. Instead, I am constantly pulled in multiple directions: the kids need me, I’m expected to help with the PTO, my church responsibilities never seem to let up. Even the Red Cross has my number on speed dial, so that the term “blood, sweat, and tears” applies to the demands on me in a very literal sense.
Last week I informed my husband that I needed some time off, time away from him and the kids. Time which I could spend however I desired. He readily consented to guard the home front, so I could get away.
I wasn’t entirely sure what I would do with myself. After all, my town doesn’t boast many entertainment options, and I was in no mood to brave the wintry weather to drive 70 miles to the nearest mall. By the time Saturday came, I was still at a loss as to how to spend my few hours of free time. Go to the library? Sit at the cafe in town? Window shop at Kohl’s?
It didn’t really matter, as long as I spent some time in solitary confinement.
All Saturday morning, we ran around trying to complete errands and take care of the kids. After many, many distractions and obstacles on Saturday morning, Bil finally insisted I leave the house so I could get my time alone after lunch.
As I readied myself for my outing, Charlotte mentioned that she wanted to come with me so we could have a “Charlotte-Mommy Date,” and for some reason I still don’t understand, I assented and took her with me. I think I actually was a bit relieved to have some company, even that of a preschooler to keep me occupied.
Though my afternoon was very enjoyable, I don’t know why I wasted my only chance this week at some alone time. After all that whining and complaining about how I am constantly at everyone’s beck and call, why did I not run from the house before anyone could notice I was leaving? Why did I not just say “no” to my daughter? Why didn’t I assert my right for some independent fun?
I’m really not sure, but I do know one thing: though it is true that I have many obligations that make free time hard to come by, it’s often MY fault I don’t get to go out alone. I’m the one to blame!
After some soul searching, I realized that I am a bit of a martyr, though I really hate to publicly admit this. I like feeling wanted and needed. It feels good to be the one who knows just how to calm Danny and Charlotte’s overwhelmed senses. I like that they would rather spend time with me than give me a moment’s peace. I like being the one who knows where everything is, how the hot dogs need to be cut so as to avoid any tantrums, and how to convince the kids to cooperate for their dreaded therapy.
No matter how much I complain about all those responsibilities, I must, on some level, like being the one in charge. If not, why didn’t I leave the house alone on Saturday?
And staying at home and complaining is sometimes easier than getting out of my comfort zone and doing something for myself. It’s easier than figuring out what it is I actually want to do with myself, because apparently, somewhere in the last 7.5 years of parenting, I’ve lost sight of what that is. Probably through lack of practice.
I have a lot more soul searching to do in order to ascertain why I am not making time for myself. Sure, I can blame it on the kids, our lack of money for babysitters and all my other responsibilities, but Saturday made me realize I am not being entirely truthful with myself.
And the more I think about it, the more I realize that my martyr syndrome is not doing anyone any favors. Not getting any free time is making me a total crank with an incredibly short fuse. But that’s the least of the problems. I realize now that I am not giving Bil the opportunity to spend alone time with the kids. He isn’t getting the chance to be the guy in charge and to teach the kids that there is more than one way to cut a hot dog. Armageddon will not occur because Bil cuts Charlotte’s orange rather than peeling it. And my kids need to get that. But if I am always hanging about, fixing things and butting in, they won’t.
So, this Saturday, I’m getting out of the house. Alone. No amount of whining and complaining by the kids will make me change my mind. After all, it’s for their good as much as mine.
The mother of three kids, Patty’s eight-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter have both been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder. Her oldest son also has high functioning autism. Though her two-year-old son has no diagnosis as of yet, she’s pretty certain he has SPD, as well. She blogs at Pancakes Gone Awry and has contributed to OUR Journey THRU Autism. Her writing has been published in SI Focus Magazine and online at The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism and Mamapedia. She recently started a LEGO social skills group for kids on the spectrum for those with social/developmental delays in her area.
This post was originally published HERE and was used with her permission.