Do you miss your children when they’re not there?

I don’t.

I feel bad about it, I feel like I should miss them, but no matter how much I try to conjure up fond images of them doing cute things*, I just don’t.

Does this make me a bad mummy?

I don’t think so.

It’s not like I’ve always just gone off, happily doing my own thing, without giving them a second thought. In fact, for about the first two years of Belle’s life I was very rarely even in a different room from her. She was what you would call a ‘highly sensitive’ baby. I didn’t balk (too much) at this, just accepted that she’d let go (literally) when she was ready, and in the meantime I learnt to do a lot of things with just one hand.

Despite becoming a mum at such a young age, I’ve managed to hold on to a very distinct identity for myself, that isn’t just about being a mother. I am not defined by my children, and so when they’re not there, I don’t feel bereft, or like a piece of me is missing. I don’t throw myself on the bed and wail, questioning the meaning of my life without them. I know that whatever they’re doing, they’re probably enjoying themselves/having money spent on them/getting to stay up later than they would at home, so why would I worry?

Sometimes I voice these feelings out loud though, and it doesn’t go down very well.

Last year, I was away in Germany for work for five days. I don’t think I called home the whole time I was gone. One evening, out for dinner with a group of people, while one woman sobbed quietly into her soup, I declared that I didn’t miss my babies At All. “But you can’t mean that?” upset woman cried, a look of horror on her face. Everyone else turned to me, slightly aghast. “It’s just part of your whole slummy mummy act right?”

“Um…” what to say? I didn’t want to become known as the heart-of-stone woman…

“Oh no!” I backtracked, “I miss them of course! I just don’t miss them. You know what I mean.” And I hastily gulped back half a glass of wine.

I lied though. I didn’t miss them at all. Don’t tell anyone.

So what do you think – do I have a heart of stone, or after 17 years of parenting is it alright to enjoy a bit of time to yourself sometimes?

*At this point, I paused and tried to conjure up such an image, so I could give an example, but to be honest I couldn’t even get that far.

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39 Comments

  1. Beeface
    25 July, 2012 / 7:25 pm

    I dont miss you either bro so its fine B-)

    • 26 July, 2012 / 8:41 am

      Excellent! Obviously I like you when you are THERE :-)

  2. 25 July, 2012 / 7:27 pm

    I miss mine every day. Every hour I wonder what they’re doing, and every evening when I don’t put them to bed I wish I could. It doesn’t make me an awesome amazing parent, just one that, sometimes, wishes something had changed and perhaps I was defined by my role as a SAHD. It’s what I really really wanted to do.
    And to not miss them doesn’t make you a bad one either, in my opinion. Enjoy the time you have for you, and don’t feel guilty about it. There’s too much guilt associated with parenting.
    Great post.

    • 26 July, 2012 / 8:42 am

      I wonder if I would feel differently if they didn’t live with me all the time? I guess that the time I spend away from them is by choice, which must make a difference.

  3. 25 July, 2012 / 7:33 pm

    I do and I don’t, I dont think its bad to enjoy our time away, I think we earn it.xx

  4. 25 July, 2012 / 7:38 pm

    I miss mine when they aren’t with me, but they often drive me crazy when they are!
    Think you have a healthy attitude

    • 26 July, 2012 / 8:42 am

      You can’t win can you! Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em and all that…

  5. 25 July, 2012 / 8:13 pm

    If it’s 4 days or less, I don’t really miss them. Around the 5th day, I might start missing them. The hardest is if they ask, “did you miss me?” and I haven’t. But I respond, “I’m really happy to have you home,” which I am.

    • 26 July, 2012 / 8:57 am

      Haha! That’s a good answer! I’m the same. I do mean it though – I am always happy to have them home.

  6. 25 July, 2012 / 8:19 pm

    I missed them more if I was at home and the house felt quiet and it stayed tidy. If I was away from home then it was not so bad, but then I worried about them, maybe I was too over protective

    • 26 July, 2012 / 8:58 am

      You’re right, it’s definitely more noticeable if you’re the one left at home!

  7. 25 July, 2012 / 8:45 pm

    my mum frequently took my daughter on holidays with her when she was little for a week to my grans and I never really missed her, I knew she was safe having a fantastic time being spoilt rotten and I made the most of the free time it gave me which as a single parent was a nice break

    • 26 July, 2012 / 8:57 am

      Exactly! When they’re off with friends or family, you know that they’ll be having a great time, so why worry?

  8. asterisk * photography
    25 July, 2012 / 10:21 pm

    Everyone is different. I’m overseas for 3 months and whilst I miss my wife & kids I’m such an independent soul that I could go for weeks without chatting to them. But I don’t. Because its not fair to them. And it doesn’t take much effort to Skype daily. But I know where you’re coming from and it’s OK. It’s who you are. And you shouldn’t have to apologize for it. At least your honest enough to admit it. Kim*

    http://www.100days100ways.wordpress.com

    • 26 July, 2012 / 9:02 am

      I totally agree with you – if I think my youngest will be missing me, I would make an effort to get in touch, even if it’s just a quick call. Sometimes though, especially if it’s just for short periods of time, I think it can do more harm than good, as mostly I think she just forgets about me, and I don’t want to start making her think that she’s missing me!

  9. 25 July, 2012 / 10:45 pm

    The longest I’ve been away from the kidlets (now 2 & 4) is 3 nights. I did not miss them at all. It was a treat to have that time to myself, even though it was a work trip it felt kind of like a holiday. I was very happy to see them again when I got home though. I think by the time they’re 17 I’ll be able to go much longer without missing them!

    • 26 July, 2012 / 9:03 am

      I guess mine are older now too, and there must be a natural thing that kicks in to make you miss them less, otherwise how would you cope when they actually leave home? I’m totally with you on the work trips feeling ike holidays thing!

  10. 26 July, 2012 / 7:26 am

    Great post Jo, and very honest. Having time to myself is a very rare treat so no, I don’t miss the children (but I’m impatient to get home if it’s been more than two days) and I don’t feel guilty about it either. Does it make me a bad mum when I mime two fingers down my throat in the face of friends Facebook posts instructing me to “Click Like if holding your children to your heart is the sweetest reward life can give you”? Yeuch!

    • 26 July, 2012 / 9:04 am

      No that definitely does NOT make you a bad mum, especially if they use little heart icons in the post :-)

  11. rinsimpson
    26 July, 2012 / 8:04 am

    I don’t have kids, so I can’t really comment from experience, but for me the point is that you can’t make yourself feel differently, so why worry? We can only control how we act, not how we feel. So you don’t have to miss them but, if it’s important to them that you call them when you’re away etc, then you can choose to do that for their sake, because you love them. If, however, they don’t need that, then it’s all good.

    • 26 July, 2012 / 9:04 am

      Ah Rin, you are always so wise! You are very right of course :-)

      • rinsimpson
        27 July, 2012 / 10:41 am

        I may use that quote on my headstone :)

  12. 26 July, 2012 / 2:19 pm

    I don’t think not missing your children when you are apart makes you a bad mom. Nothing wrong with enjoying space. What matters is the relationship you have with them when you are together.

  13. 26 July, 2012 / 5:00 pm

    I don’t really miss them if they’re away for under a week. After that I suppose I do! Have to be careful what I say in case my own Beeface is reading lol!!

  14. honeybee35
    26 July, 2012 / 8:53 pm

    After reading your post…(and a few chuckles at your brutal honesty), I wondered if being a single parent makes you cherish those moments away from the children even more? Single parents don’t have the daily option of having someone else in the home to take over for a little while so they can have a bath/glass of wine/catch up with friends.
    Therefore, I think enjoying the time away from the little ones and not ‘missing them’ because you know they are safe and having a good time, doesn’t make anyone a ‘bad’ parent… It makes them a parent who values a bit of peace and quiet.

  15. lucie
    27 July, 2012 / 11:51 am

    Having brought up my son totally on my own since he was 3 I can proudly announce that I DO NOT MISS HIM when he is away from home. He spends about 4 weeks in Summer at my parents in Scotland, but this is the only time we are apart and it is a blessed relief not having to worry, finance, feed, and clean up after him.

    I don’t get up to anything exciting but just having that brief respite is enough to recharge me when he comes back at the end of August.

    II will voice this to people and if they judge me I will point out that I’ve been doing this shit on my own for 12 goddam years, and if they have a problem with that then TOUGH!

  16. 2 August, 2012 / 8:16 am

    I love that you’ve had the guts to write this – fair play you! It’s a fantastic piece of writing and I wholeheartedly agree.

  17. Kris
    12 April, 2013 / 9:09 am

    This is hard and I only found this post because I’m going through this. A year ago I split from my husband and we agreed he could have the boys (10 & 8) full time while I try to pursue my dreams of going to university, finally. I had to move 2.5hrs away from them to do this. I still see them every other weekend though, but I often (almost daily) ask myself how I could leave my kids?! My babies, the children I carried and nursed. I admit that days will go by that I barely even think of them or I realize I haven’t called them in three days either. I notice most when it’s in the middle of the night and I can’t sleep cause my heart is heavy. The time I do spend with them is so much more valuable to all of us now. We don’t take it for granted. But I can’t help the heavy weight of guilt I feel for leaving them. Even when I know in the end this will all have been worth it and I will be a great role model for them. I want to show them that it’s never too late to follow your dreams or to go to university. I just wish there was an easier way :(

    • Jill
      10 February, 2014 / 9:12 am

      I found myself in the position of having to leave my kids as well, and it is a constant struggle. It is especially difficult because no one can relate. I can get so very down at times and often feel at a total loss as to what I should do.

  18. 22 December, 2013 / 9:51 am

    I am crazy tonight my is away from home I can’t go to sleep

  19. Liz
    13 September, 2015 / 8:56 pm

    You are awesome for posting this. I feel the exact same way- don’t miss my kids and husband. I wondered if something was wrong with me. But after reading this and people’s comments, I feel resolved because I am happy when they come back. In retrospect, I have always had a far greater threshold than others before missing people. I think it’s just how we’re wired. I also am not the mom who gets choked up when my kids start school. I always tell people that when both my kids start kindergarten, I will be the mom doing a victory lap around the school. Hahaha! But really, thank you for posting this. It helps moms like me, even years later.

  20. Shannon
    2 September, 2016 / 3:42 am

    I wish I’d read this years ago when my son was little. I love my son, but I was a stay at home mom and enjoyed any time I managed to get without him. My husband and I went to France for 10 days when my son was 18 months old and most of my friends looked at me like I was the worst mother in the world to leave him with a set of grandparents who adored him and spoiled him every minute of the 10 days. When I told them that I really didn’t miss him, they looked at me like I’d grown an extra head. It’s so nice to know that I’m not alone

  21. Ana
    11 April, 2017 / 9:48 pm

    I’ve been going on holiday with my partner, without our son, ever since he was 4 months old and he is now 4 years old. When we go away for a week then I start missing him towards the end but I generally don’t miss him. I used to get heavily criticised by my mother-in-law for wanting to go on holiday without my son, but I didn’t care: it’s none of her business and she’s not the one looking after him when we are gone anyway, it’s my mum that does that because she believes that we need time alone as a couple.
    To prove my point that going away without children now and then is healthy, we took our son to Crete with us for a week’s holiday when was a year and a half. Needless to say, the trip was a nightmare and neither me nor my partner enjoyed it. If anything, we were arguing every day and ended up eating separately as our son would kick off the moment we went to the food hall. After that experience, my partner agreed that for now it would be best for us to go away on our own and try again when he is a bit older.
    This week, my son us staying with my mum for a few days and I already feel guilty for the overwhelming relief that I feel and the way I’m loving the peace and quiet at home. Thank you mum for being so helpful and supportive! If she didn’t live almost two hours away from me, then parenthood would be a breeze as my mum is very involved, unlike my partners mum who lives five minutes down the road and hardly ever sees her grandson.

  22. Rick
    4 June, 2017 / 2:24 am

    Yes I have to leave for upwards of 3 months sometimes so I miss them anytime I’m not with them. You are lucky that you don’t have to spend much time away from them. So you can enjoy time away. Must be nice! I’m a dad btw

    • Jo Middleton
      Author
      5 June, 2017 / 10:07 am

      Ah yes, well I probably WOULD miss them if I had to spend that much time away!

  23. Carrie-Louise
    3 September, 2020 / 10:10 am

    Mine is a very needy, really active, inquisitive little man and when he’s not here I bask in the silence and just sit! I feel bad I don’t miss him at school or even when I went on my 5 days honeymoon and I sometimes feel like there’s something wrong worh me I love him with all my heart and I’d die in a second for him but I don’t miss his constant need for attention and approval ‍♀️

    • Jo Middleton
      Author
      3 September, 2020 / 1:46 pm

      Absolutely nothing wrong with you in my mind!

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