“A seminal work of feminist leisure research by Eileen Green is titled Women’s Leisure, What Leisure? In her study of women’s free time in Sheffield, England, in the 1980’s she and her coauthors found that women identified themselves as wives and mothers first and felt guilty about taking time for or spending money on themselves. Their husband, when we asked about how they felt about their wives having independent leisure, said it was all right once in a while, but if she did it very often, they would feel there was something wrong with their marriage…but for the men, well, that was altogether different. The husbands said having leisure for themselves was part of what being a man was all about.” – via Brigid Schulte, Overwhelmed, pg 237
Note how both the women and men in that study felt like women’s identity was so revolved around being a wife and mom? That was a few decades ago, but sadly, things don’t seem to have changed that much.
Men feel entitled to take time for themselves, full stop. Whereas moms, when we do take time out for ourselves, couch it in “oxygen mask” terms. We take time for ourselves SO that we can return refreshed to what we see as our ultimate identity and responsibility – motherhood.
Motherhood is a profoundly important responsibility.
But it is not your ultimate identity.
Society would have you believe it.
It’s not true.