Every August and September I’d be scrolling through my social media feeds and see the posts of friends lamenting their children going back to school. I’d see countless posts from friends sharing how sad they were to be sending their kids off to school each day, wishing they could hold onto their time together.
I didn’t feel that way. Don’t get me wrong – I loved and adored my kids, and enjoyed the extra time with them in the summer. But, towards the end of summer, I was always itching for school to start again. I craved routine. I longed for space. I was eager to send them back to school.
For a long time, I’d waver between feeling guilty and rolling my eyes when I read those posts. It didn’t help that some women felt the need to go out of their way to attack the few women who posted pictures of themselves jumping up and down on the first day of school. The women who stated they were excited for some time alone were treated as if they’d said they hated their own children.
Craving time alone does NOT make you a bad mother. Relishing a few hours a day by yourself is normal. You do not need to weep on the first day of school to be a good or loving mother.
I knew I loved my kids. I hated being made to feel like I loved my kids less than the mothers who sobbed through the first few weeks of the school year. I didn’t. Wanting some space and the freedom to write in peace didn’t make me “less” of a mother. I longed to live in a house that stayed clean longer than 15 minutes. I craved some precious quiet time so that I’d have MORE energy when my kids came home in the afternoon. I was excited to have focused time by myself to get the chores done so that I could have more focused family time in the evenings. I was ready to be alone and excited for my kids to exercise some independence. Win win.
If you are feeling like I was (back before we made the leap to homeschooling), do NOT let the choices and attitudes of other mothers influence how you feel about yourself. We have got to stop measuring our “goodness” as a mother based on what other people are doing. How someone else feels about their kids going to school (or how they feel about ANYTHING!) should not affect how YOU feel. Ever.
Don’t allow a social media post to make you feel guilty. Don’t dictate your life by what someone else is doing. It’s okay to feel differently. It’s okay to have different needs. It’s okay to have different family dynamics. It’s okay to structure your life differently. It’s okay to cry like a baby because you are away from your kids and it’s okay to jump for joy at some time alone. “Same” does not equal “good.”
Mama, you love your babies. You love them whether you want them with you every second or whether you take every break you can get. You love them if you cry in the hallway when you drop them off at school or if you sent them off on the bus with a smile and poured yourself a celebratory mimosa. You are your own person with your own set of feelings, ideas, and needs. Don’t let someone else dictate the way you feel about yourself or the type of parent you are.
Your feelings are your feelings. Their feelings are their feelings. Let’s accept the differences in parenting styles, personalities, and family dynamics and just applaud the immense work we do as parents.
Check out my Daily Encouragement section for more thoughts.