Friends come to me with their troubles, as I do with them. Most of them are married, in mostly happy relationships with their significant others, but are strained by their ‘coupledom.’ The respective roles that they have assumed within their marriages, not because of choice, because of expectation. They tell me that their world would stop if they weren’t around – to be grocery shopper, house cleaner, ironer, meal maker, child disciplinarian, taxi driver, etc. And it’s even worse when they are sick (which rarely happens – who has time to be sick?) But most these women have husbands who provide the dollars to keep their lifestyle intact. Yes, they may help out with the business, doing paperwork, errands, take phone calls, etc, but if it wasn’t for their husband’s business, they wouldn’t be where they are now financially and in their lifestyle. True, it works both way – if their husband didn’t have their support, they wouldn’t be in the position that they are in either, so in essence they are a team in life – business and pleasure.
But this is where the male side of the team lets down the female side of the team. The men work hard, and then play hard. And their women work hard for the business end of the team, and work hard for the family end of the team, but don’t get a chance to be themselves. They rarely socialise without the children, they rarely have a chance to sit down with a good book, or have a lazy afternoon shopping, while their husbands arrange boys weekends away to surf, go motocross riding, play golf or see an interstate football match. At what stage does it become the husband’s priority to give his wife a chance to have some time to herself?
That’s the thing… women need to give themselves the opportunity to be themselves. They can’t rely on their husbands to give them permission. And that is what they are asking. Why? Who knows. Is it because they feel indispensable? Don’t they trust their husbands to look after their family while they are away? Are they worried about what they will come home to, so a weekend away won’t be as relaxing as they hoped?
Women just need to let go and not think about the consequences. They need to learn to enjoy their own time, discover themselves again – discover what makes them tick outside their regimented roles of being a mother, wife and business partner. Start with announcing one Friday night that in two weekend’s time, you have booked yourself a spa weekend away with a girlfriend and that husband dearest needs to take the children to their Saturday morning sports, do all the washing and ironing over the weekend and feed the kids three square meals a day. Any mess they make, has to be cleaned up, as you want the house to be in the same state as you left it. The response might be shock, but it’s only shock because you have allowed your marriage to be dominated by your husband’s and children’s activities and forgotten about yourself.
As a single mum, my time is precious to me and if I don’t get a week or so break every 6 months from my day-to-day duties, my sanity goes out the window. But that’s because I have my boys in my custody 99% of the time every month, and the only excuse I can use to ask family to look after my boys is if it’s work related. Apparently I’m not allowed to have a social life that takes me away from my boys. Thus I have to integrate my working life with my social life to feel like an adult, or I need to start making millions to have a nanny on call.
Both single mums and married mums need to think outside the square to have a life that they can call their own. Team up with other mums to give your children sleepovers when you need to escape for a weekend and reciprocate when they want the same. Teach your kids independence and that you will come back. Learn how to be ‘you’ again. Because the best thing you could ever do for your children is to come back a better, more revitalised mum.