My son is now an adult, although as things currently appear he will never be truly “independent”. I struggle with this daily, not only because I want him to have an enriched and successful life; but because I want my independence. I catch myself feeling guilty, and I remind myself I’m only human – it’s how we react to what we feel that matters.
In my routine I’ve carved out a chunk of time in the morning to be “alone”; my son sleeps in so I start my day between 3 and 3:30 am – even on weekends. I’ve found this time gives me some of what I need, an opportunity to pursue my passions (reading, education and when it’s warm, hiking/biking) and puts me in a place more accepting of his stimming and presence.
Maybe this sounds cold to some, perhaps there are those who have never longed for absolute solitude – if even for only a few hours. But this is how I recharge – my chosen profession often wipes me out. I consider myself lucky, because my son is a low-key roommate (better, I think, than I was at his age) – makes himself dinner most nights, picks up after himself, etc. But I still long for the day when it’s just me; or maybe it’s the choice of being alone I long for – the end result is the same.
I’ve made peace with how I feel and I make a conscious effort to balance “me” time and spending quality time with my son. I feel “me” time is an absolute must – for ANYONE. Give your brain an opportunity to “turn off”, pursue hobbies or passions just because you want to (as opposed to keeping someone else entertained).
I don’t think this is selfish, I think it’s an important part of self-care. I like to think of myself as a bucket – I can only let others add so much before it overflows, at some point I need to pour a little out to make room. Quiet and solitude are how I empty my bucket, for others it may be surrounding themselves with friends and adult entertainment (cards, watching a football game, etc).
The key is not feeling guilty when you do it, otherwise I don’t think you achieve the full benefit. Look into Respite programs, or maybe you have friends you can “swap” with – alternate an evening of care to give each other a break. It doesn’t have to be super complicated, it could be as simple as your spouse encouraging you to go watch a movie or something.