There are a few commonly used phrases that get my back up. “My Mama heart”, “Love and light”, and “Over the moon” just to name a few. However, of all the phrases I cannot stand, “Me time” really takes the cake. And it isn’t just the phrase itself that gets my back up, it’s the heavy subtext that lies behind it.
According to Dictionary.com, the word “Me” is defined as meaning: “the objective case of I, used as a direct or indirect object”. Therefore, I am Me, and Me is I, and it’s a logical conclusion that I am Me at all times (phew!). Yet the phrase “Me time” alludes to the presence of a time that isn’t “me time”, which highlights a huge issue in modern life, predominantly for women and mothers.
Once you become a mother, you can feel your “me” -ness slip away slowly in the endless cycle of house chores, responsibilities, and caregiving. It’s no secret that there can be a full-blown identity crisis that can arise once you have kids, a result of the tendency to put everyone else’s needs first. After spending most of their waking hours tending to other people, mothers are typically left with little time or energy left to pursue their interests and take care of themselves. The solution to this predicament is often touted as “me time”.
“Me time” is the concept of having some time to yourself for yourself. A little break from your responsibilities to focus on self-care or your own hobbies and interests. There’s nothing wrong with this. In fact, fitting “me time” in is imperative to your health and mental wellness as a parent. Where I take issue is the fact that it’s so necessary in the first place. Losing yourself in the madness of modern parenting has become so normalized that we’re completely cavalier about the reality- that women are constantly running themselves into the ground to keep up, and the solution and reward they get are a few hours here and there to be… themselves again?
How amazing would it be if we lived in a society where a mentally healthy mother was the priority, and this business of putting yourself on the back burner was seen as abnormal? If allowing a mother to be their authentic true self (regardless of what that may look like) at ALL times was the standard. How much healthier would we be if “me time” was a given, not some reactive measure that places a band-aid over our burnout in the form of a quick pedicure or hour of uninterrupted reading?
I was me before parenthood, and I’m still me in the trenches. Every mother out there is a person first, we must honor this. The importance of the role of Mother is rarely downplayed, we can all agree on that, however, the importance of letting mothers have access to themselves (their needs, their hobbies, their own space) still feels foreign. Because the truth is that many mothers just aren’t in a situation where having time for themselves is even an option.
Having “me time” at all is a luxury for some. It relies on support from other people in the form of childcare. It requires time that may not be available. For every article out there prescribing “me time” as the answer to parental overwhelm, there are scores of women who work multiple jobs, who provide care for ailing family members, or who simply don’t have the systems in place to have that be an option.
“Me time” is fabulous and can be very recharging, don’t get me wrong. However, I can’t help but cringe at the phrase because of all that it stands for. It exposes a gaping wound in modern motherhood that’s so pervasive and damaging that it just simply can’t be “fixed” with a night out or solo coffee run. And that’s the real problem.
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