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When I Wish I Wasn’t a Wife and a Mother

woman running awayI love being a wife. I love being a mother. Really, really I do. Until I don’t.

If you’re a mother and you’ve never had a day, or a part of a day that you didn’t sit and daydream about the life you once lived I’m very sorry, but I can’t be your friend.

The problem with stay at home parenting for tweens and teens is that when you’re doing it well it appears that no one needs you. It’s nice to feel like your kids don’t need you, and it’s common to feel like your children don’t appreciate you. This is mostly a one way relationship, I give, they take. Yes, of course there are hugs, kisses, thank yous and sweet moments, but most often it’s more mom giving, dad working and kids taking.

I don’t resent my family.

I just sometimes wonder what I’d be like with a flat stomach and some time to myself. I look at parents who split and I wonder what gave them the nerve, the total self obsession, to look at their family and make the decision to follow their bliss. What is their bliss? Why does only one person get to follow their dreams at a time?

I understand feeling restless and unappreciated. I’m not restless every day, or even every year. I understand the pangs and when I look at my single childless friends I’m alternately jealous and piteous. I’m guessing they feel the same stuff, but more pity less envy.

When I wish I wasn’t a wife and a mother I wish that I have less things. When I’m entertaining the fantasy of a life all alone I dream of no mortgage, no pets, no phones and sometimes no friends. I have this vision of myself living in Los Angeles completely surrounded by people but not having to please any of them. I fantasize about my only interactions being with shopkeepers and servers. I recall fondly the days of workouts followed by massages and then naps. A completely selfish existence, one that I don’t know that I’d ever dare to lead, one that I’m not convinced isn’t lonely.

It’s not the mothering that gets me, it’s being The Mom.


Photo via Flickr creative commons license.

39 thoughts on “When I Wish I Wasn’t a Wife and a Mother”

  1. Yes, because being The Mom seems to take away from being The Anything Else. At least for me it does.
    I hear you. Why is it that often only one person gets to follow their dreams at a time? Good question.

  2. If you don’t mind I have posted a link to this article on my blog, because I think it’s extremely honest and it’s exactly what I feel. I’m a mother too and I totally agree!!

  3. You’re certainly not alone. Hell, my kids (well two of them) are still toddlers and I have more days of feeling unappreciated than not. I became a mom at 18, skipped right over LIVING and straight into diapers and responsibility. I don’t feel bad for daydreaming about what life might have been like before this.

  4. Your thoughts are eerily similar to how I feel on a daily basis. I have never felt so simultaneously, overwhelmingly needed and wanted, yet loved and adored since I became a mother. It’s both exhausting and daunting and wonderfully amazing. Yet, I think about this OTHER life (where I have hardly any possessions and live in a “tiny house”) that I COULD be living constantly and I feel pitiful for not just enjoying what I have. Is there a fix? Why are so many of us feeling this way?

    1. Are you kidding? “The fix” is to not depend on all that stuff that you’re so exhausted by. Get rid of it!

      This is really not a big problem. You’re too wealthy? Too saturated with stuff? Well then jeez! Get rid of your stuff and find a better purpose.

  5. I’ve been there. I do day dream of my life before being “the Mom” in retrospect it seems like a dream.I am envious of what I had and who I was but then I realize that without my girls and the Big Guy,I would have a much less enriched existence..even if I was much more well rested and actually had a life…and some spare money to spend on myself…in peace:) That is what I miss the most, the option of making a decision solely on what I want or need.Oh how I miss my Id!

  6. It’s like you read my thoughts. I’ve had those moments. More than once. You can’t take that free spirited single girl out of the the mom you become…she’s always there…and every now and then she comes up for a breath of air. I stopped apologizing for daydreaming about the life I had before I entered the Land of Motherhood. It doesn’t mean I don’t love my family…I do with everything in me…just sometimes I fell the need to be totally selfish. And I’m completely and totally OK with that.

  7. I had a moment today at pick-up; sitting in my car I had exactly 7 minutes before my kids would call and ask where I was-as if I am anywhere but in the same spot, in the same parking lot. I picked up my phone to play words with friends and a thought came over me, that if one fucking person dare to knock at my window to say ‘hello’ I would become violent. I made that clearly purposeful motion of my head down and not even a glance as 25 familiar face walking past my car, praying to God that not one of them mistook this signal for anything other than what was intended. I just needed to know, that for exactly 7 minutes, nobody would need me and relish in that.

    1. OMG thank you for saying that. Carpool lane is my time to focus before the eye of the hurricane passes and we’re back in the middle of the tempest… I so try not to look resentful when someone knocks on my window. It’s not that I don’t want to see them or catch up, it’s just that some days? I don’t have the energy.
      With the exception of that one person who never seems to get it and knocks anyways? I think we all pretty much know that “no eye contact staring at the iPhone” means “no offense, but not right now.” Don’t we?

  8. Best I have felt in years was on a long “girls weekend” to Vegas with my sister-in-law and two nieces. Because my kids were safe at home with dad… And for three glorious days no one “needed” me. I felt free, and that is really the first time since my oldest was born 11 years ago that I have been so self indulgent. Then I came home and loved them, including husband, even more for being able to let go of me for a short time!

  9. Yep, I’m linking this to my blog, too. Because I feel like this a lot and just happened to write about it recently as well.

    It’s the being needed All The Time that exhausts me. So much so that when I flew across country alone with my kids after Christmas at the grandparents (DH flew home early because he had to get back to work right after the New Year. He also got upgraded to one of those new bed thingies in business class)…and one son had diarrhea and the other was pissed cause the portable DVD ran out of battery power…and we had to transfer flights and have a long layover blah blah blah… when I finally fell into our front door and DH went in for a little romantic reunited-and-it-feels-so-good kiss, I boomed “NO ONE CAN *NEED* ANYTHING FROM ME RIGHT NOW.”

    And all three boys looked at me like, “What’s with you, crazy lady?”

    1. Thank you so much for this. Today I have been feeling like this and have had days like this before when all I want is to be me again and my little man isn’t even 1 yr yet! But I thought I was so wrong for feeling like this. Glad to hear I’m not the only one and it does happen sometimes. Thank you for sharing.

  10. oh yes, I get this completely. I can’t believe I ever used to be bored with my single, happy go lucky life, that there was ever a time when I didn’t relish having an entire double bed to myself and no-one to talk to. I fantasise about living alone in a small house or apartment somewhere, just me and my laptop, whatever I want to watch on the telly and all the good stuff not disappearing from the fridge the second it’s restocked. Maybe even the time and space to complete a course, go back to school, do something completely selfish and only about me.

  11. What a mind-blowingly great and honest post. You summed it up: Mom giving, Dad working, kids taking. I love being needed and feeling needed by my children but now they’re all moving into a newer, less needy phase – what do I do with that? I don’t like being The Mom much either, but I love being a mother. The Mom thing is a lot of work.

  12. “I just sometimes wonder what I’d be like with a flat stomach and some time to myself”
    A mom who says she doesn’t is either in denial or hasn’t had enough sleep or slowed down enough to wonder.

    I think for me, it’s the loss of those pre-Mom “sudden impulse trips” that could happen on a weekend or when I see a single friend heading off to some foreign adventure in which s/he will inevitably “find him/herself” that trigger that twinge of “what if…” thinking.

    And then I remind myself that I was very nearly perpetually single and after getting married, convinced for the longest while that I should never be anyone’s Mom as I was still trying to get my own act together for so long… and think of myself as that cranky, hermetic cat-lady who always dreamed of trekking across Europe & Asia but never did (much more likely for me.)

    Ironically, I’m much more likely to do those things now – only after she’s off at college.

  13. I am with you when you mentioned that it’s being The Mom that bothers me the most. Well, strike that, because being The Wife bothers me more than being The Mom (maybe because at the moment my 6 year-old hasn’t turned into a tween yet).

    But I definitely could relate to what you’re talking about. Especially being a full-time housewife and mom, at times I asked myself, “Is this all there is to it, what life’s all about?” I watched great movies depicting women finding their true self, their soul mates, their life mission, as they embark on new adventures.. and I found myself asking, when would I ever get to do that? Am I missing something here? Did I settle down too early, or should I have waited longer?

    Such times could be such a downer! And I’m guilty of that, more often that I should. But usually when the sun shines just right, or when my daughter surprised me with her “miracles” of “I love you, Mommy,” or when my husband did a small but oh so meaningful gesture (e.g. why don’t we take your mom with us on this holiday trip?), it more than makes up for all those adventures and carefree existence I sometimes long for.

  14. Thanks for your honesty. What a great piece. Beautifully written.
    I’m a stay home/work at home Dad. My wife works at a downtown office. I have kids from my first marriage that I see sometimes, but they don’t really like coming to my place. It’s complicated. But I feel like the hub – if anything is needed – toy batteries, driving, changing the channel on the TV (I’m not joking) or keeping everyone happy, it seems to be up to me.
    I know what you mean about the fantasy. I have single friends who are also musicians and seem to have all the time (and permission!) they need to play where they want, when they want.
    But if I entered that childless fantasy you mention, I’m sure my second genie-wish would be to bring me right back. All that other ‘shtuff’ is probably making me a better person. And it’s probably where I’m meant to be anyhow.

  15. I think about the couples who have chosen not to have kids at 6:30am every Saturday morning, or earlier, depending on when my 1 YO wakes up. I think about them when I see their facebook pictures from their most recent trip to Brazil or some exotic place. I think about them especially when my children smile, say something sweet, and the whole world makes sense.

    It is not always fair to be a parent. There are many days I’d like to escape and join those living with no one tugging on their apron strings, but given the choice, I would always make the decision to be the mom. In fact, I even have the days I think, “how did I get so lucky?”. Thank the Lord for those days!

  16. I think about the couples who have chosen not to have kids every Saturday morning around 6:30, or earlier, depending on when the first cries echo down the hallway. I think about them every time I see their facebook pictures from their recent trip to Brazil. I especially think about them when my children smile, say something uniquely sweet, and the whole world makes sense.

    It is not always fair to be a parent. There are days I would love to escape with those who have no one tugging on their apron strings, but given the choice, I’d always choose to be mom. In fact, somedays I think “how did I get so lucky?”. Thank the Lord for those days!

  17. Funny, but I was thinking this yesterday afternoon. I had a short day at work and asked my husband to pick up our daughter rather than me. I had 4 hours to myself at home – to do whatever I wanted. And then I started thinking about how that used to be my life and how much I loved not only being home alone, but being able to travel where/when I wanted, and not answer to anyone. But then I think about my daughter and realize that while I’d love to have some days like that now and then I wouldn’t trade my life now for the world.

  18. As always, you write truth. There’s not enough of that in this world, but I can always count on it from your blog and tweets. I’m in the minority here — single, no kids — and I can attest that I wonder about the mom life sometimes (mostly, I’m in awe of all of you. My mom had six kids — SIX. That simply boggles my mind). I think it’s normal to think about things the way they once were and to become wistful about other people’s lives in those moments of toughness or insanity. I think the key is allowing yourself those moments instead of denying they exist. Keep on rocking it, Jessica! (And I know it’s been said many times before, but your kids and Mr. G are lucky to have you.)

  19. I hear you. I SO hear you. I spend a lot of time keeping my perspective in check. Having a 1.5 year old that cries about everything because she’s so determined to do everything and can’t, well, that’s only cute for about ten minutes…six months later I fantasize about taking my savings account and moving to some far off 3rd world country where it’s just me, a laptop, wireless, and a lot of liquor. Yes, I know it’s temporary, but there is nothing about having an active fantasy life of freedom that makes you or me a bad mother.

  20. Must be something in the air because I have been silently wondering lately about who I would be had I not had children. And I OFTEN look at my friends without children and am envious of their schedules…
    Oh – and I love my kids.

  21. Must be something in the air because I have been silently wondering lately about who I would be had I not had children. And I OFTEN look at my friends without children and am envious of their schedules…
    Oh – and I love my kids.

  22. We can certainly be friends by this definition, since I feel itchy, rather often, to have a bubble of space around my body and in my mind where I can be a full human again. All of the realities of motherhood mean I rarely have time to think of my own life, but when I do I feel claustrophic about narrowness of what I allow myself in an effort to do my best job.
    Every day for at least 30 seconds I bristle at the requirements of this job. At least once an hour I question my bosses’ fitness to rule one such as I. And about every other month I feel genuinely claustrophobic about my reality…not claustrophobic enough to chew my limb off for freedom, but to look wistfully through the bars and wonder what life might have been life on the other side of the fence.

  23. I had to stop myself from making comments such as “If I did not have children” because my youngest always takes it personal. He’s asked me whether I hated him and honestly that was the most awful question to hear from your child.

  24. There are thousands of lonely single women wandering around Los Angeles carrying yoga mats and dour expressions. These are the very same chicks who judge you in the wink of an eye for having children.

  25. I don’t have kids or a husband but have worked hard all my life to accumulate and sometimes I just dream of cashing out, buying a small place by the ocean, in a warm climate and just live simply.  I think the world is too hurried and impersonal and the demands on people are very great.  Technology has not made our lives better, it has made our lives more complicated and now we are paying the price.  One of these days – I may just disconnect – and try to find a more fulfilling and simplier life.  I make a 6 figure salary and it doesn’t satisfy me and I find people are getting more selfish and ruder all the time.  Something needs to change.  Adding kids and a husband to the mix – I don’t know how I would cope.

  26. I have felt this way many times as well as it’s opposite. The days I love are the ones where I look at my life and think about all the beautiful things I would have to give up. I think it’s natural to want to romanticize the freedom but in our hearts we know we were incomplete then and we’d be incomplete again if we returned to that life. In those times when you feel like walking away from it all, that’s your spirit telling you you need a break so you can remember to value it all again. Take some time just for you (a full day if possible) to relax and recharge. You’ll regain perspective then.

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