The Need for Me Time
You can leave me out
By: Janya Veranth
When I was in sixth grade, my female classmates and I studied Me-ology, a program created to foster a sense of self-esteem and self-worth in the girls that would one day become part of Generation X. I don’t remember much about the program other than its ridiculous name and a heavy emphasis on “me.” As girls growing up in the ’80s, we saw our female role models breaking gender barriers, clad in pant-suits and jutting shoulder pads, making their presence known in the boardroom. Women had been bumping their heads on the glass ceiling for years, and the supposed cure was a me-based curriculum designed to make sure the next generation of little girls had all the same opportunities, if not more, than their little male counterparts.
Fast-forward 20 years, and I think a lot of these Me-ological efforts have been successful for women and girls. A woman is running for president; female executives are often able to out-earn the good old boys in business; and the majority of American college students are girls. I’ve noticed, however, that while a lot of the women in my age group are very successful and empowered, they are also highly focused on themselves, their self-esteem-promoting activities, and especially on their me time. It seems, however, that the notion of me time is an elusive brass ring that women can either never attain or never get enough of. And what exactly is this me time that they’re after?
Today, I do feel like the world is my oyster. As a mom I can stay at home, work at home, be a working mother (which mother isn’t a working mother?), and pursue anything that interests me. Even with all these choices, it seems women of my generation are never sure if they’ve made the right choice; and the search for balance in one’s personal life becomes a never-ending quest for more and more me time, as if more time with oneself will hold the answers to one’s problems.
As a full-time mom, I’m often asked how I find me time. I suppose I never find any because I’m not looking for it. I exorcised my need for me time before I became a mother, before I had someone other than myself to consider. I drank enough chardonnay in my 20s to drown a shark, because I could, because I wanted to, because it satisfied me. When a good friend turned 30 we didn’t just gorge ourselves on Mexican food and margaritas, we went to Mexico. When I turned 30, I had a blow-out house party with 50 of my closest friends, complete with karaoke singing until 3 a.m.. When I got pregnant with my first child, I cranked up the me time with a weekly pedicure regimen and a rigorous nap schedule. I knew the “days of me” were drawing to a close.
I don’t seek out me time like I once did. Now that I’ve had my baby, my days are spent on someone-other-than-me time; hours and days spent nursing, diapering, feeding, clothing, teaching, entertaining, bathing, cuddling, loving and caring for someone besides me. While I still savor a long, hot, uninterrupted shower, being able to pay all my bills at one time, answering e-mails in a matter of hours and not days, eating a meal while it’s still hot, and sleeping for more than a three-hour stretch, I can suspend the insatiable need for me time and finally spend my days indulging the needs of someone other than me. Thank God.
Tell us: How has having a baby changed how you spend your “me” time?