Please don’t “Gimme a Break”

…however, I will have some of that KitKat, thanks.

My brother-in-law called last Saturday to offer us his tickets to the game on Sunday. One of my favorite things to do, pre-baby, was go the the Superdome to watch the Saints play, to drink beer and eat “Dome dogs” and be a part of the game. If you’re from New Orleans, you know that just about everyone in this city bleeds black and gold, and more than once I’ve felt emotional and overwhelmed by just being in the Superdome. But Saturday, after Bro-in-law called to offer us tickets and also offer to watch the baby to give us a break, my husband asked me if I wanted to go and I just looked at him. Did I? A little, but more than that, I’d rather hang out with my 5-month-old. Is that okay? That I don’t crave adult interaction or want to do something that I used to drop everything for the opportunity to do?

“You don’t want to leave him, do you?” my husband said. I grimaced, “Is that okay? Is it weird that I don’t want to leave him?” He assured me that it wasn’t weird, but reminded me that I had left him before, so if I wanted to go, that would be okay, too.

He’s right, I have left him before. I’ve fed him and put him to bed while my sister-in-law or mom sat with him while he was asleep. But I’m greedy with his awake time. I want to be there for every grin and giggle and meltdown. But people keep insisting I need a “break”. I don’t want one. Is that okay?

Because being away for several hours is not a break to me. Knowing that someone is probably sitting him in front of the t.v. or handing him their cell phone to get him to stop fussing isn’t a break. Thinking about how much breastmilk I’ve left and what this means for my backup supply for the rest of the week isn’t a break. And worrying about being away that long without breastfeeding or pumping isn’t a break either.

The same goes for family gatherings. Someone inevitably takes my son out of my arms, saying “Come here to me. Let’s give mom a break.” Guess what else is not a break. Listening to my son cry as that well-meaning family member paces around the gathering questioning why he’s crying. Definitely not a break.

Of course, I recognize the importance of self-care as a new parent. And I’m not overprotective or coddling. In fact, I’m letting him cry it out in the next room right now. (It’s fucking brutal. But that’s another post.) I just don’t think causing myself more stress than necessary is a “break” I want to take. A break for me is putting the baby down for a nap and then leisurely grocery shopping for an hourish or wandering around the CVS up the road from my house, while listening to a My Favorite Murder episode. No worrying or feeling guilty about breastmilk, or crying, or drinking/pump-n-dumping. Just a quick jaunt out of the house to catch up on my personhood and back again to be a mommy.

Plus, my son is fun. I like hanging out with him. My husband ended up taking the fellas to the game with him and the baby and I put on our Saints gear, spread a blanket on the ground, and turned the game on the t.v. We perfected sitting up, and rolling from back to front, and snuggled, and never cried or fussed. And the Saints won. It was a beautiful day and just the “break” he and I both needed.

Baby game face, Who Dat baby, Nola baby
Who could need a break from this game face??

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