Debunking the Myth of Relaxation by Karen Williams

Lately I find myself thinking more and more about the importance of relaxation.  The need and rewards of relaxation are known by many, but few people seem to realize what actual qualifies as relaxation for another person.

As I ponder the possibilities of relaxation, how much, when, and how I will achieve a peaceful state of mind, I find myself in the most awkward of conversations.  In my last blog I explained the trouble I have had explaining motherhood to my childfree by choice friends, and now I have a new explanation before me: why being a mother is not relaxing.

 Before I explore this subject too deeply, I should clarify that I have not had to convince anyone of the copious amount of worrying I do as a mother.  This extraordinary level of paranoia coupled with motherhood appears to be a generally accepted fact.  The few naysayers I have encountered on this subject have stood corrected once I explain to them my mother, the woman who believes nine year-old children should still be on leashes in busy places (otherwise known as any place outside of her home).

Instead, I find myself explaining to my friends and even my husband why motherhood is not relaxing on another level.  For example, today I am sitting at home.  I taught a class this morning, and now I am home with my baby.  The house is clean and the laundry is done, so clearly I will be relaxing all day.  Of course, I have an almost-eight-month-old baby who crawls faster than the average person runs and has recently discovered the joy of pulling herself up on every available surface, twisting all of the knobs on any available location (particularly the stereo), and sticking everything in her mouth.  I have three dogs, one of whom barks if I show any indication that I am available for activity that does not revolve around him.  With these three dogs comes a myriad of dog toys splayed across my floors.  Did I mention my daughter’s propensity for putting things in her mouth?  I also have my at-home job, Motherhood Inc. 

Now allow me a moment to defend myself against the inevitable onslaught of “Don’t you enjoy all of this?”  Of course I do.  I cannot put into words how much I love spending time with my baby.  My dogs are my best friends.  My job allows me to do what I love, write, and make money at it from the comfort of my own couch.  None of this, however, is relaxation.

My baby requires constant supervision.  My dogs require an exorbitant amount of attention and energy.  My job requires time and attention.  I may spend the entire day in my own living room, but I can assure you, I’m not relaxing.  To the outsiders, of course, I have the most relaxing life.  I no longer have to worry about all of the details of a “real” job.  As mothers, we can all share a collective laugh here before I continue.

At the end of the day my husband comes home.  He settles in to play with our daughter, and I breathe my sigh of relief.  Now, I can relax.  The dishes will wait; the laundry will wait, and the dogs have finally begun to sleep.  I have a choice: I can began my relaxation now, or I can take the time to explain why the relaxation experience is so absolutely necessary at the end of my taxing day.  With this blog as my explanation in hand, I will relax.


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