Thursday, December 27, 2012

Taking a Mom Sabbatical: Mom Freeze Begins 01/01/13

 Mama Kat posed the following writing prompt: After the holidays I call for a nation-wide parent vacation... where would you choose to go?
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Mamakat, I couldn’t agree more. But not just after the holidays. After 2012 in general . . . I need a vacation. And I need more than a three-day vacay. Like, a month more. But who can afford to take thirty days off work? Not me, lest our kids be ejected from their beloved private school and we live in our cars. I could, however, stay home and take a 30-day hiatus from specific parts of my life. I could:
  • Eat no meat for 30 days (too easy)
  • Drink no coca-cola for 30 days (too hard)
  • Have sex every day for 30 days (meh—who has the energy?)
  • Acquire no debt for 30 days (Bwahah hahaha—just peed my pants a little)
  • Make no eye contact for 30 days
  • Don’t use a car for 30 days
  • Don’t sweep the house for 30 days—EUREKA!
I spent a lot of 2012 burning the candle at both ends, working one or more full and part time jobs in addition to doing the lion's share of the housework, childcare, event coordination and errand running, much of it while my husband was out of the country kicking off his new business.

It is exhausting to work all day then come home to cook, clean, homework-help, play both good cop and bad cop to our children and dogs, and generally be a single mother ensuring that everything at home is as it should be. It is also mentally and emotionally depleting to appear to keep it all together and hide the frustration in front of friends and co-workers (a regular fail). 

As the year progressed and my husband's business trips got longer, I started to feel overworked and underappreciated. My grumbling began, my smiles become fewer and farther between and now I don't recognize myself in the mirror.

Mama’s burnt out.

My husband does try to help, bless his heart, and I do appreciate his efforts both when he’s home, and when he’s away trying to make our lives better by building a business from the ground up. Still, until he travels less or makes enough for me to hire some help while he's gone, I can’t help but feel like a 12-year-old whining, “It’s not fair!”

My husband will argue that his business trips are not fun and that he's working very hard the whole time, which I'm sure is true, but it doesn't make my reality any easier. The fact is, while I’m struggling at home alone, he gets seven or so weeks each year when he does not have to be a husband or a parent or do one single thing on anyone's timeline but his own. He gets seven weeks each year when he can take a poop without someone walking in on him. A seven-week sabbatical of my own would be quid pro quo, but unfortunately it's not possible. Or is it?

More than once in 2012 when I was pushed to my limits, I threatened to stop being a mom. “I will just live here and you all can cook your own meals and wash your own clothes and dishes and remember your own social calendars.” I always wondered how long they would tolerate the mess and the hunger before they started doing things for themselves, but I never stuck to it and thus never found out.

The time is nigh!

A vacation from the motherly duties and refrains that made me grumble, worry and yell in 2012 might be just what I need. After some quick research I found I am not the first mom to think of this. This mom went on a cleaning strike against her three slobby daughters for one week, and these Mom Sabbatical retreats are a real thing (or at least promote "the sabbatical mindset").

Could I take an in-home parenting sabbatical and not be the "bad cop" for 30 days? I may become mute if I removed well-worn phrases like, "Hurry up and brush your teeth, we're late!" and "No TV until you finish your homework," and “No, you cannot have root beer in your Cinnamon Toast Crunch.” Or . . . I may become happy!

Could I really refuse pick up after my kids for 30 days? I get itchy when even one paper or unclaimed tidbit is left on our kitchen counter top. When a lone flip-flop is orphaned out of the shoe basket by the front door I am afflicted. Where is it's mate? Stop everything! It must be found immediately! But no, I will restrain myself. It will take herculean discipline, but I will look past the tumbleweeds of dog hair in the hallways, the cheese stick wrappers around the couch in the den, the balled up socks in the bathroom that no one but me seems to notice. I will do this. I must do this. If not for me, than for Everymom.

30-DAY MOM FREEZE STARTS JANUARY 1, 2013.  

Perhaps this is what the Mayans predicted when they saw the end of the world.” I am anxious to see if letting go of my mom-sponsibilities for a while and finding myself (and my smile) will extinguish my worry and minimize the yelling, or if it will drive me to a new level of insanity. Will I be able to blur my attention to detail around the house? Will I be able to keep my mouth shut when my child is still not ready for bed at 9:20 on a school night and my husband does not notice or get the bedtime ball rolling because he's caught up in a game of Words with Friends? I will have to, for the purpose of this challenge.

Give me a “whoop whoop” in the comments if you feel me. I’m gonna need it. This is going to be painful. For those of you who are my friends:
  • If you visit me during the 30-Day Mom Freeze, please do not judge my home. I can assure you, it will be a shit hole of epic proportions.
  • If my children come to school exhausted and without homework or clean underwear, do not judge me. Applaud me for sticking to my guns by teaching them these valuable lessons of responsibility and consequences.
  • If my child misses a social occasion with your child because I am no longer managing our family calendar, mea culpa. We still love you. It’s just part of the project.
NOTE:  As children and husbands go, I must acknowledge that I have some pretty good ones. My husband does do dishes and fold clothes regularly, and will sweep floors when nagged. My kids occasionally do their chores on their own, but mostly when reminded multiple times by a raised voice. The point is to get to a place where my children notice and remedy their own messes and responsibilities before I have to remind them, nag them or do it for them.

2nd NOTE:  I will not commit to this project to the detriment of my children’s safety. I will continue to be a mom for the important things like reminding my son that matches are not to be used as toothpicks, requiring my daughter to wear a bike helmet, and purchasing groceries so there is food in the house (even if I don't cook it for them). But other than health or safety-related issues, on January 1 I’m done momming for thirty days in the hopes that Value with a capital V will be placed on the hard, often-thankless work done day in and day out by moms everywhere. At the very least I hope to provide a much-needed laugh or I-feel-ya nod for other moms along the way.

12 comments:

  1. You deserve a 30-day vacation! I hope it works. Good luck and I hope 2013 is a much better year for you.

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  2. Good luck mama! You deserve one full month of vacation and if I come by your house no worries I won't judge :)

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    1. Thank you! Those who judge will be handed a broom and dustpan. :)

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  3. Whoop whoop! Sounds like a good project to me. I'm interested in hearing how it goes for everyone. Good luck!

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    1. I'm interested too... will bring y'all the weekly play by play.

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  4. Might just forward this post to my husband and jump on the bandwagon! 30 Days without seeing my mop sounds pretty darn glorious!

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  5. Hope that you get your vacation and rest that you need.
    Visiting from Mama Kat's

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  6. I hope you enjoy your mom break. I'm curious to see if it helps your children be more independent. Whoop whoop.

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  7. HAHA! This is AWESOME! I can't wait to see how it all turns out for you! Good luck! I'll definitely be following along!

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  8. Whoop Whoop! I can definitely stand behind a 30 day freeze!

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