Doubt: The End of Me Time?

I spent the weekend in Seven Springs with my mom, my dad, and my sister. And the girls, of course. (DearDR drove up after his patients on Saturday.)

It was exhausting, as per usual. But Bun knows how to swim now, and Monkey really enjoyed her new goggles, and we spent lots on tokens for arcade games to win tickets so my children could buy junk. All-in-all a very successful weekend. Although I did not get nearly enough sleep.

I had an illuminating conversation with my parents that I’ve been mulling over. It was about marriage and parenting, and the work of it all. And I’m kind of curious about what my Internet peeps think. My father said, at one point, “One thing that I don’t understand is when people your age talk about ‘me’ time.”

For people, read ‘parents’, and for ‘my age’, read thirtysomething.

He continued, “There is no more ‘me’ time. That’s over.”

I did not offer anything back to this observation, and I don’t necessarily disagree. Especially as it comes to parenting. But at the same time, I think “me” time doesn’t have to completely, irrecoverably end, forever and ever, amen.

If it did, I would not go on Girlie Weekend or Spa Day. I would not have the occasional shopping day all by myself. I would not, at the end of the day, spend time with a book.

Should I give those things up? If so, why? If not, why not? Does my father have a point? Do people “my age” feel a sense of entitlement to “me time”? Should that be put on hold while we’re raising our kids? What do you think?

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20 thoughts on “Doubt: The End of Me Time?

  1. Everyone needs personal time. We don’t cease to be functioning individuals when we marry or procreate. We gain spousal and parental identities, responsibilities, rights, and privileges, but we do not lose those of our individual identities. That said, “me time” can easily be used as a cop out excuse to deny or disorder spousal or parental priorities.

    • Eric, that last sentence is a good point. I may even be guilty of it vis-a-vis my marriage, especially after a long day with the kids. Will have to think some more on it.

      ciao,
      rpm

  2. As a caregiver for a disabled spouse who doesn’t take enough of it, let me tell you that so-called “me time” (the name itself disparages it) keeps you sane, calm, refreshed, and able to be generous and genuine in your giving. Often it’s just a little bit of solitude or a break from being constantly “on call.” By reading a book, taking a walk, or having lunch with friends, you refill and collect yourself so that you have wherefrom to give. Now tell me to go take my own advice. When I don’t take a break at all, I can be frazzled and downright mean.

    • This is how I feel, too! Very frazzled, very stressed and anxious. Is it me being me, or me being a basket case, or — again — a generational thing?

      Hmm. May have more tomorrow on this subject.

      ciao,
      rpm

  3. I think it’s a generation thing. I think that having ‘me’ time- not every day, even just once a month, an hour or two! is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to keeping the batteries running. It seems as though our parents’ generation either didn’t need it or didn’t want it or didn’t get it, so they feel we shouldn’t get it either.

    I also find it interesting that your dad said that… I don’t know what kind of a dad he was, but I know my dad had ‘me time’ EVERY SINGLE DAY. LOL he went to work, came home, ate dinner and watched tv. My mom was the hands-on parent, POD, etc every night, my dad was just there to get us to change the channel for him 😉 Not that it was right or wrong, that’s just how it was. But in our house now, if Dan did that? I WOULD KICK HIM IN THE FACE. ha

    I say the more ‘me time’ we can squeeze in, the better, as long as other things aren’t being neglected. And I highly doubt that your girls feel neglected! 🙂

    • My mom was definitely more POD than my dad, especially when we were very little. He worked long hours as a pharmacist and business man. But he changed diapers and gave baths, too. My mom just did more of that as a SAHM (when we were little; she eventually went back to work full time).

      I think our generation takes it for granted that parenting should be more equal than his generation. Housework, too.

      Anyway, just for the record: My dad is a great dad. I think it was different “back then”.

      ciao,
      rpm

  4. I wish I remember where I read it, but someone described taking care of yourself in terms of the oxygen masks on airplanes. You put your mask on before assisting others.

    You need to do what you need to do to feel whole/sane/yourself (as long as, like Jennifer pointed out, things aren’t being neglected).

    I had to relearn this recently. As an only child who went on to live alone for 12 years, I really got used to “me time.” My husband continued to make sure that happened once we were living together/married. However, after my maternity leave I became obsessed with the little time I had with the critter. I didn’t want to take time for myself because I wanted to be with the baby. Honestly, I went a bit nuts, which wasn’t good for anybody. Since then I’ve had a few nights out with girlfriends, weekly yoga sessions, and even some time at the coffee shop to write. I am much better for it, which improves my time with my husband and son (who still get the bulk of my schedule).

    “Me time” has to decrease when you have other obligations, but I don’t think it should go away completely if you want it. (Some people don’t seem to need/like “me time.” I can’t relate, but if it works for them that’s fine.)

  5. Hmmm.

    I seem to recall a number of golfing days AND golfing trips taken by our fathers when we were young. If that ain’t “me time” I don’t know what is. Would he disagree? I’ll have to ask Jimbo what he thinks.

  6. It’s a generational thing only in the sense that some members of the older generation like to believe their own press a bit too much, like how depression (postpartum and otherwise) wasn’t as common, and gender roles were (I always love this) simpler and more clearly defined. This is BS. They just drank. A lot. And relied on their own parents more, and, yes, golfed. I think there was exactly the same amount of frustration and repression, sacrifice and self-indulgence, mistakes and triumphs as there are now. If anything, modern parents just talk about it more. And label things more precisely.

      • Well, you know, he’s more than welcome to, and he’ll be in good company, but actually, from what you’ve reported and what I read in his post, I don’t think we’re too far apart on this one. Parenting was tough then, tough now, and the generational differences seem to be somewhat superficial.

  7. well, it seems i at least got some conversation going, and i think that can be a good thing. I guess it might have been better if i said that your generation places “ME” time very high on their list of things they NEED to be able to “Cope” with all the other things in their life. (parenting,work,keeping the house in order,etc.) i also am suprised this is becoming a “generational “thing, but that’s ok, lets go with it. In your generations defense, our society requires 2 incomes to achieve what one income did. except now we require more things to make life better ( 2 cars (my mom raised 7 kids and never drove a car), cable, cell phones, internet, tweeting, blogging, etc) these things take time away from other activities.,and add to expenses that quite frankly we did not have, and therefore need. now, i am not an old fart that is railing against modern inventions, i have these things, but i have them now that i have raised my family and have extra income to afford them. to N, if you remember your dad and i going on golfing trips, it was when you were much older than an infant when we did them. actually, you were in high school and required less of your parents in your daily life. when my children were younger (until high school age) i coached soccer, mom was a girl scout leader, we had dinner together 4 or 5 nights a week, i did not drink or play golf or read on a regular basis, and me time was not a daily or weekly or monthly occurrence. mom was a stay at home mom because we felt it worked best for our situation. we could have used her extra income, but it would have been for things, and we managed. and finally, the written word allows the reader to use inflections and emotions that may not be implied by the writer. as my poetic daughter reminded us, it is just a thought at the moment it is written. I’m not upset at your generation any more that i am at mine. both my generation and yours have people that do it well and people that do it badly. i hope all of you don’t mind me interjecting my thoughts, and i really hope D is ok with it. i do believe we (D and i) needed to continue this when we get the chance. we will alway respect each other, and most importantly, love each other through the dicussions. xoxo

    • I have been thinking about all of this as I have been going about with my evening. And I was going to add to the discussion tomorrow that you didn’t say what you said in a mean way, or a judgemental way, or anything like that. If anything, you certainly seemed bemused when you said it, like, “you crazy kids.” And I know regardless that you do love me, and I you, and I wrote about this because I am curious about what other people — and you — think. I hope I haven’t hurt your feelings.

      You are a great dad, and you spent tons of time with us, and yes, I was going to point out that things like golf did not come along until much later in our (your children’s) lives. And even more importantly to some, you are a fabulous pap-pap. I am in awe of all the things that you have done and accomplished in your life, not least of all raising three kids.

      So: I love and respect you tons. I know you read this here blog, and I wrote what I wrote not to hurt feelings, but more to get a conversation going. You know, better than anyone else who read these words here, where I am in my life.

      And you make some very relevant points.

      Xoxoxo, your oldest child,
      rpm

  8. I LOVE that your dad reads your blog, that is so cool. And I also love that he’s willing to get involved in the discussions with us ‘crazy kids’ 🙂

    I totally agree with his comment that things were a lot different ‘back then’ (which, um, does that make you feel old, RPM? LOL talking about our childhood as ‘back then’ in the ‘olden days’?!) Life when I was a kid was a lot slower- 3 tv channels, 1 phone in the kitchen with a long cord that didn’t reach to my bedroom (CRAP I hated that when I was a teenager!) and now things are fast and expensive and to keep up with everyone around us, 2 incomes are almost always required… which leads to two parents working, nobody gets a freaking break OMG we’re all so tired and cranky!

    I also like what commenter erin said about past generations not talking about things. Obviously every family was different and that is awesome that your dad was so involved! But I do think that for the most part, SO MANY of the struggles that come with parenting and being a family and even marriage were very hush-hush for a long time, and maybe it was seen as being selfish or ungrateful or mean to say ‘HEY DUDES. I NEED A BREAK FROM YOU. I LOVE YOU, BUT GAWD. I’M GOING SHOPPING, BE BACK IN AN HOUR.’ Nowadays, it doesn’t seem like such a taboo, you know? It’s nothing personal against our kids or spouses, it’s just LIFE.

    That being said, I think that even if one is a SAHM (I’ve got a foot in each camp, myself- working at home but also taking care of my daughter throughout the week so it’s sometimes hard for me to 100% relate to either ‘side’) there is still a need for ‘me’ time. I almost view my work time as ‘me’ time, which I feel makes me lucky because I enjoy it so much and am able to view it as a break of sorts. I am just NOT BUILT for SAHM 24/7, I admire moms who can do it. I know that if I was at home 5 days a week for 8-10 hours with the kids by myself, the need for ‘Me’ time would be even stronger.

    So it may not necessarily be that the 2 income life-style we all lead gives us a desire for ‘me’ time, but the fact that we are constantly bombarded by things and stuff and noise and information- kids or bosses or tv or twitter or whatever- and the need to switch all that off for a while is there.

    Anyway, I’m tired and I have a cold so my head is all weird, I have no idea if any of that makes any sense 🙂 LOL

    And on that note, I’m off for some ‘me’ quiet time on the couch now that Maggie is asleep for the night!

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