These Moms Taking Summers Off From Parenting Are Pretty Genius

shutterstock_146566628__1376844157_142.196.156.251When 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.

(photo: bikeriderlondon/ Shutterstock)

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    • Annie

      Hehe… “Ms Hyman”.

      Anyway, seriously, whatever. Most societies ship their kids off for long holidays at school or with other family such as grandparents, it’s great. Their world grows and they gain autonomy. It’s important for families to be able to function independently of each other and besides, kids and parents need to have their own adventures.

    • Kasey

      I’ve been trying to talk my husband into taking our kids to visit family while I stay behind for months now. I would love to spend even a few days completely by myself. If that makes me selfish than oh, well. I travel with the kids while he stays behind all the time so I don’t see why I shouldn’t be able to do it as well.

      • Annie

        Pff. “Selfish”. You’re not at all selfish, society just fetishizes the fuck out of parenthood, motherhood in particular, and holds you to unrealistic expectations.

    • Rollergirl09

      I don’t know if I’d want the entire summer off, but I’d love my parents or even my son’s dad to take him for a week or two in the summer so I could have a break from being “Mooooooommmmm!”

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      I went to my in-laws for a week while my husband worked. I wouldn’t mind the reverse situation next summer.

    • Justme

      My mom and dad have an RV and they fully intend on taking my daughter away for a camping weekend once she is a little older. I am already making plans to do so much and so little…all at the same time.

    • Amanda

      Since my sister and I live so far away from each other we plan on exhanging kids for a few weeks in the summer when they’re old enough. 2 weeks and everyone’s in America, next 2 weeks and everyone’s over by me. We both get a 2 week break, ticket money well spent.

    • Andy

      I’m very, VERY lucky in that my parents-who live an hour and a half away-are more than happy to take my three year old for a couple of nights when I need a break. I usually take them up on it when my husband travels out of town for work-especially now that I’m in my third trimester of pregnancy it’s nice to have some solo time to really get things done around the house and rest on my schedule.

    • Amber

      Actually people do bat an eye when dad stays home and mom goes somewhere with the kids. I’ve had some really “lovely” comments both times we’ve done that.

      Maybe it used to be normal but today people act like that dad’s a bad father or suggest he’s just whoring it up while his wife is gone.

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