Has "Me Time" Become Too Important?
I think this is a question worth asking: do we place too much importance on “me” time? [what a topic as Mother's Day approaches!]
Before you start pelting me with rocks, garbage, lipstick and dirty diapers, let it be known that I am ALL FOR me time. I think it is important to ANYONE’s well-being – mother, father, grandpa, kid, whoever.
I think about my own mom, raising children in the 60s and 70s (yes. I am old.) She ran a household, cooked meals every day (couldn’t afford to eat out EVER), cleaned her house, visited her parents, made sure school work was done – all the things the moms of today do – but never was there a “I really deserve a spa weekend” moment back then. She didn’t get weekly pedicures – she didn’t get any pedicures. She didn’t engage in retail therapy. She had her hour or two of watching soap operas, but it wasn’t ever something she demanded as a right or an entitlement.
Was this healthy? No. She could have used a little less of us and a little more for her. It would have made her a better parent. But moms in her generation still had June Cleaver hovering over their shoulders, women’s lib movement notwithstanding. Obviously, it wasn’t ideal. And sometimes, with all due respect to my wonderful mom, it showed in her parenting.
But now I’ve started to wonder whether the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. My mom would’ve been looked upon as selfish for taking a spa weekend. Now, you’re almost an outcast if you don’t. The need for “mommy me time” is widely covered in all possible media. I see Facebook statuses, hear chatter at the elementary school, read blog comments that are rampant with “I know I just got back from a week’s vacation, but my kids are driving me nuts and I am going to spend the morning at Starbucks and getting my nails done. I DESERVE it.” or “I haven’t had a girls night out in WEEKS. I DESERVE it.” or “My husband worked until 8 p.m. last night and I was on point with the kids the whole time. He’s going to pay for that this weekend – the kids are ALL HIS. I need some time off. I DESERVE it.”
Just like the lack of me time is not healthy, too much me time can start to show in one’s parenting. I know because I spent two years of my life demanding and claiming me time: to play tennis, to go shopping, to have girls nights out – all in the name of “making me a more happy and well-rounded person so that I can be a better mother to my children.”
Well guess what? The me time started slipping into what should have been husband time, kid time, family time, volunteering at school time. My priorities got way out of whack. My marriage was on the brink. I wasn’t a better parent for having more me time, I was a more selfish and distracted one. I didn’t DESERVE all the time I had to myself. I DESERVED a swift kick in the ass, which I eventually got.
For men, the opposite seems to be true. Once having embraced the image of the detached dad who works all day and comes home to pour himself a martini and sit alone in the living room, our culture now seems to devalue men pursuing me time and pressures them to be more active and involved fathers, deeply engaged in every aspect of their children’s lives – to the point that, in my opinion, some men are left with nothing for themselves. And when they do try to claim some well-earned me time, they can be criticized.
Obviously, I don’t mean to generalize that “all moms take too much me time” or “all moms don’t take enough.” Every family’s situation is different. But what I am saying is that as a culture, where we place our value seems to have radically shifted. Each person will respond differently, with the goal being striking the right balance. But it’s such a difficult tightrope to walk.
What do you think?