Let me start out with a disclaimer. I love going away with my 4-year-old son. He’s great fun, not much bother, and carries a big chunk of my heart around with him.
A few months ago, we went on an awesome family adventure into the Sumatran jungle to see orangutans. Despite having a wonderful time, I didn’t consider it a holiday. An adventure? Definitely. And certainly a getaway from work and my normal environment.
However, I don’t really classify getting away an actual holiday unless there is absolutely nothing for me to worry about other than getting sunburnt or what I will have for dinner.
Going away with my son means that I’m still in “mom” mode worrying about the needs and wants of another. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve heard mothers complain about how stressful a “vacation” was with their kids.
Throw a kid into that mix and it sounds like the furthest thing you can get from the relaxation and pleasure associated with a vacation.
I think we all agree that travel can be stressful enough: flight delays, unfamiliar places with alien languages and customs, hidden costs, etc. can make the experience extremely distressing. Throw a kid into that mix and it sounds like the furthest thing you can get from the relaxation and pleasure associated with a vacation.
Having said that, it turns out I’m going on vacation this Eid. And, yes, that means without my son.
I can guess the train of thought for most readers at this point:
“You’re going away on Eid?! Without your son?!”
As it happens, the trip was booked way in advance and it only came to light while doing a quick calculation during Ramadan that I would actually be traveling on Eid day.
My initial response was to cancel the vacation or, at least, try to rearrange, but neither of these options were possible. I talked it over with my husband and, although initially he was upset about not spending Eid with me, he didn’t understand why I was freaking out so much.
Thanks to Allah (SWT), our relationship is solid and we respect each other’s need to have individual experiences as well as awesome ones together. But he just didn’t get it.
Despite being a parent for the same amount of time as me — he had no idea why I had developed this bone-crushing guilt.
Some people have actually been quite rude and openly judgmental asking if my husband had a strong enough “handle” on me…
I thought this was really interesting and I’ve tried to uncover the reasons behind my Mini Mum Meltdown…
My first explanation is that Eid, in most Muslim homes, means family time. My holiday felt very much like a betrayal of this unwritten rule. Interestingly, my husband started to think my worrying was some kind of comment on his parenting skills!
Although I have no concerns in that department, it saddens me to know of so many mothers who would not feel confident to leave children with their own father. The disparity between how society views being mother as opposed to the role of a father is noteworthy.
Twitter account @manwhohasitall takes gender stereotypes and flips them around to point out how ridiculous they are. A lot of his posts are based on actual lines in women’s magazines and his humorous switching of roles highlights how ingrained some gender role stereotypes are:
Another reason for my guilt came from the fact that Eid is, more often than not, entirely children-centred. Eid parties, activities, presents, decorations, and all things that glitter are focused around our children having a more enjoyable Eid than the last.
If this is what is causing me to worry, am I being an entirely selfish mother by not making my son’s comfort and happiness the ultimate goal for Eid Al Adha 2016?
I also thought maybe this is just a case of classic mum guilt. And I’m talking about the self-inflicted kind all mums suffer from as well as the guilt that comes as a result of other mums’ judgement.
The disparity between how society views being mother as opposed to the role of a father is noteworthy.
I’ve had the usual negative thoughts ranging from “I’m a bad mother” all the way to “something awful is going to happen while I’m away.”
I’ve also had a mixed bag of reactions when telling others. Some people have actually been quite rude and openly judgmental asking if my husband had a strong enough “handle” on me…
Then I’ve had mums congratulate my “bravery” and express their wish to do the same.
There’s also been some quite subtle disapproval in a passive-aggressive way. It bothers me that we feel so entitled to judge each other’s parenting choices. But I can’t say for sure I’ve never done it at some point. It is frustrating to note, however, that I doubt I would be getting the same reaction if it was my husband going away instead.
The truth is, my guilt comes from a mixture of all these things, and I can’t really do much to change it other than ask Allah (SWT) to give my heart peace. I know that my son will be safe and, as they plan to spend Eid at a theme park, I’m sure I’ll be quickly forgotten!
It’s important to remember that Eid is a celebration for everyone, including mums — and there is absolutely nothing wrong with us doing something enjoyable for ourselves at any time, even on those occasions when your holiday falls accidentally on Eid, (she says like a mantra to herself…)
Readers, please do me a favor and make dua that this still-feeling-very-guilty mum gets through this and manages to enjoy at least some of her holiday. ?