When I first read this NYT article about mothers taking summers off from parenting I had the expected knee-jerk reaction: Awful! Selfish! Who do these mothers think they are? If you don’t want kids, don’t have them, jerks! Then I realized the only reason I was reacting so passionately was because I was totally jealous.
The article tells the stories of a few moms who stay behind in the city while their husbands take the kids to summer homes or off to see family. For these moms, summer is filled with uninterrupted work and a lot of free time to indulge in activities motherhood may not allow:
“I made plans with all these friends who are either single or married with no kids,” she said. “Friends I never have the time to make plans with. And I definitely drank more than usual because I would end up going out. To have my house to myself without my husband telling me to put the iPhone down and stop playing Words with Friends: that was heaven.”
Along with alcohol and apps, many of these moms are finding their bliss in actual work, which they can do for once without the anxiety of rushing home to begin the “second shift.” Ms. Wade was awake until 4 a.m. one morning, helping a friend make costumes for a play; Ms. Hoffman Hyman has done late-night Skype sessions; and Karla Chrzanowski, 48, the brand development director for a lifestyle magazine, has arrived early and stayed late at the office.
This story wouldn’t even be a story if the roles were reversed. No one bats an eye at a husband and father staying behind to work while mom and the kids vacation at a summer home. I like seeing women unapologetically break out of societal norms and do something for themselves, for a change.
What is that saying, We hate in others what we most fear in ourselves, or something to that effect? I think we all have a little yearning for the freedom that these mothers are giving themselves – and probably a healthy dose of guilt to come along with it. I would kill for a little time to indulge myself in ways I haven’t been able to since I had kids. I won’t get it, because we don’t have summer homes or that kind of financial freedom – but I won’t begrudge women that do.
Good for you, ladies. Good for you.