Greetings, potential traveller. I see your question and I raise you one back. Are you considering going away without your child because you’ve been invited to a wedding where children are persona non grata, or because you want to whisk your lady or fella away for a mini break that involves R&R rather than S&P (stress and poop)?
The event invite
If it’s a wedding thing, then it’s not your choice, so of course you are not selfish parents. You have been invited to an event. Your kid has not. You either find a babysitter and go and let your hair down. Or you hang with your kid and tell the happy couple you can’t make it. End of story.
If it’s a “let’s go away just by ourselves” situation, then it is your choice, so of course you are selfish parents. Oh really? Yes, really. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for it. As it happens, my wife and I are just about to head to the south of France for a couple of kid-free nights on the town (I can guarantee we’ll be asleep by 6.30pm).
But, but… won’t we miss the bubby? Of course we will, but he loves his grandparents, they look after him brilliantly and we’ve given them our iPad, so we can Facetime his cheeky little grin whenever we want to.
And, and… aren’t we worried about what other people, and especially other parents, will think? If you had asked me during my first few months as a parent, I would have said “yes”. Now, I couldn’t give a monkeys. Why? Here’s why.
“I used to try so hard to make everyone happy that in the end I didn’t make anyone happy, which really got me down. Only when I realised that sometimes you have to say no and do what’s right for yourself was I able to begin to conquer my condition.”
The above quote comes from an interview I completed with a firefighter who had suffered from depression. It’s obviously not a trivial matter, but I’ve decided to include it in this piece because I believe it reflects my ineffectively selfless to happily selfish parenting journey almost perfectly. What I mean by this is: in the beginning, I spent far too much time doing things to please other people’s whims, wills or opinions. Then, around the nine month mark, I had a eureka moment/got a dressing down from my wife. She told me that I wasn’t Florence Nightingale and that my actions weren’t impressing anyone or doing the three most important people in my life any good.
What happened next? Next, I stopped asking questions like ‘what would the in-laws think?’ and started doing what was right for us. And do you know what? It’s been a revelation. My wife and I have rediscovered our pre-child interests, our moods have improved and this has had a positive impact on the baby. Life’s good and we’re even getting the odd guilt-free weekend away. So here’s to being selfish parents (sometimes).