Let me paraphrase a conversation I had with a well-meaning colleague (that I don't know super well) that I had yesterday while talking about our plans for the summer:
Me: ...yeah, I'm going to take Sawyer to take care two or so mornings a week, so I can get things done and go to yoga or whatever.
Colleague: Oh... my kids never went to daycare [explained why]...
Me: My husband is gone for like eleven hours a day, so sometimes I'll need a break. Plus it's good for him to keep up with her routines and ways of doing things. And it's not like it's more money, since we have to pay to hold our spot.
Colleague [sounding a little... hopeful?]: But maybe you'll get lonely and pick him up early...?
Me: [laughter/scoffing] I will not get lonely.
I keep replaying this in my head and chuckling. Lonely? No. What I will get, during approximately eight hours of alone time a week, is a cleaner house, a slightly more toned/tanned/rested body, a slightly-restored social life, books read, and a greater sense of inner peace. Selfish, right?
Not so much. Even two mornings or afternoons a week of time where I'm "off duty" will be guaranteed to make me a better mom, because I'll be happier and less frustrated about why I don't get more time to myself. This reminds me of an article on the Huffington Post site (that I can't find) some time ago about comparing your children to cake; cake is awesome, but you don't always want to eat cake all the time. What killed me, of course, were the comments. "I love my cake..." or, "if you don't want to eat cake everyday, you shouldn't have ordered it in the first place." If you are a mom and you have never wanted just a tiny bit of time to yourself you are a mother-effing saint. Or maybe someone that doesn't have any outside interests or hobbies that require kid-free time.
I didn't leave the work room thinking my colleague was judging me at all- she has a few kids and just genuinely seems excited to spend as much time as posible with them. That's awesome and it works well for her family. But I feel like there are people, some in my life, that will be quick to judge my decision. I work all year and leave my kid for eight hours a day with another person, so shouldn't I want to spend the entire summer with him? Shouldn't my life revolve around him for at least nine weeks of the year? Can't I just do my stuff "when he naps" (those are the non-parents asking that one)?
Listen. I'm not a "mom's mom" and I own it, accept it, and embrace it. Motherhood comes naturally to me, but motherhood on my own terms. I'm not making homemade chicken strips with bread crumbs from scratch, planning hands-on activities for every day of the week, or teaching my kid baby-sign language (the only sign language I know is probably not appropriate...). We have fun in our own way, and I'm sure he will survive, even if I don't have a plethora of Montessori-activities planned for him this summer (I let him play with a bottle brush, though, and I put dried pasta in an old Puffs container, once... does that count?). I will always have moments where I miss having the option to be spontaneous, slightly irresponsible, or ridiculously time-efficient. I wouldn't change what I have right now for a million bucks, but I'm not the type of mom that is going to refuse to admit that she had a life pre-baby.
So, no, I will not "get lonely." I will continue to love my child more than ever and enjoy the extra time together, but I will take him to daycare for a few hours a week and be totally at peace with it (despite the slightly defensive undertones to this post). I will be alone, but I will not be lonely.