Julie Green: The Other Side of the Coin


In Praise of Detachment Parenting

Why You Need a Mommy Break. Now

I did the best possible thing for my son recently: I took off. In the spirit of absence making the heart grow, yada yada, my husband and I fled to the backcountry for a few nights sans enfant. My 3 year old also vacationed, many miles away, with his grandparents.

Parenting is littered with paradox. In an age that preaches about the virtues of staying attached to children, I decided to become detached.

On one hand, endorsements from the likes of TIME magazine and our very own Alanis Morrisette tell us that infants should remain affixed, tentacle-like, to their mothers for as long as possible. In the next breath, we are warned against smothering our children by hovering over them, chopper-style

(Imagine the jolt of confusion for the child in question. One day he's his mom's extra appendage; the next, he's being practically booted out the front door to play unsupervised in some park.)

I'm not a Buddhist by any stretch, yet I do believe that moderation in all things is the way to go. It was with this tenet in mind that I sent off my son for the best of a week while this self-professed city slicker took to the country. 

On the back of kitchen renos, overseas guests and the incumbent red tape that an autism diagnosis entails, my reserves were dwindling dangerously low. Add to the above the fact that I hadn't taken a day off—in a year. Something had to give, and for once it wasn't going to be me.

So for my son's sake, and my own, I sent him away. Sure, I missed him. He asked for me daily, and whined some, but never to the point where he became overly distressed by my absence. I won't always be there for him. He needs to learn early on that he can cope—dare I say, even thrive—without me. 

Not only did this trip provide me with the outdoorsy tonic—canoeing, hiking, lake swimming—I needed after a stressful year, it also provided him with the safe environment he needed in which to let go just a bit.

Needless to say, the reunion was sweet. My hubby and I were treated to the most wonderful greeting. It was nice to genuinely miss my son, and vice-versa. Already we are all looking forward to another vacation... Next year.

How do you 'escape' your family? Do you feel guilty leaving your children behind?