Interestingly, no fathers reported experiencing this same fantasy.
It’s a vivid, albeit shameful, memory for me.
I had three very young children and I was talking to a friend who had just sent her fourth child off to full day grade school. She was discussing her newfound freedom, lack of stress, and desire to do a few things for herself.
I was holding my newborn in my arms and had the most profound desire to hand my baby to my friend and run. I felt it in every cell in my body: freedom. Needless to say, I pulled myself together, didn’t run and now have three young adult children who seem to be doing quite well, despite their ready-to-run mother.
Gayle Forman wrote an interesting article for Time in which she validates my desire to run and explains why many moms share that desire. Here are 3 possible reasons why some moms are so ready to run away:
1. Men and women have an unequal amount of responsibilities at home.
Forman's article notes that she couldn’t find one father who admitted to the fleeing daydream and she thoughtfully suggests that may be due to the still very uneven tasks for women versus men both at home and at work.
She also suggests mothers aren’t as able (or willing) to leave home behind and, thus, spend work hours worrying about their children.
I agree with her in that there has never been a clear work versus home life for me — or any other woman that I know. I’m never at work and not thinking about my home responsibilities, knowing where my children are, and when I need to get home in order to address their needs.
2. More women are stressed.
Yet, I think the desire to flee may also be a generational issue. Although I know my mother (and many of her peers) weren’t always thrilled to be handling mothering duties, I don’t remember any of them looking or acting as stressed out as women of my generation.
It would be easy to blame this high-stress response to the fact that most women of my generation both work outside of and inside of the home but I think that may be too simple.
Most women I know find great comfort and satisfaction at work. Many studies back up the concept that mothers who work outside of the home actually report being happier and more confident.
So what else accounts for this strong desire to flee all of the stress and pressure?
3. There's a desire for perfection.
Every mother I know complains or feels guilty that she’s just not doing enough.
She’s not cooking organic dinners enough, she’s not "playing" with her kids enough, she’s not volunteering at the school enough, she’s not teaching her kids a third language, and she’s not guaranteeing their Ivy "eague education by the time they are in pre-school.
Think I’m exaggerating? Go ask any mom you know if she feels she could and should be doing more for her children. Trust me, she will say yes.
Who can blame mothers for wanting to run when they never feel that they're good enough? It’s exhausting and it feels like constant failure. Who is at fault for all of this perfectionism pressure?
We all are; the media, other parents, and society as a whole.
Mothers need to be all giving, all knowing, and always putting their children first, essentially the perfect recipe for wanting to run far, far away.
I remember feeling as if I was never good enough as a mother and thus, failing my children at every turn. It was exhausting and certainly not good for any of us.
So what’s the solution?
It’s time for mothers to take back their lives! Our role in life is to not give up ourselves in order to raise our children. That’s nonsense. We are entitled to full and complete lives both as individuals and as mothers.
There is no such thing as perfect mothering and we should never seek to find it. There is also no such thing as perfect balance. Good mothering is the fine balance of caring for our children while also very much caring for ourselves.
Ditch the outside noise that tells you that you need to make every moment of your child’s life your responsibility. You don’t and trust me; you won’t be doing them any favors if you take on that role.
Let go of perfectionism and adopt a "good enough" mentality. You will be happier, your children will be happier, and life will become simpler and more joyful. You won’t feel the need to run and you may just end up loving those years with your children.