an imaginary escape: mothers and the fantasy of running away


Written by Meg Kant

an imaginary escape: mothers and the fantasy of running away

The language in this blog references mothers directly, as that was the subject of the research on this topic. However, we want to note that there is a wide gap in research on parenting and equity in relationships that doesn’t account for the experiences of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, and that the experience identified in this blog is not isolated to only people who identify as mothers.

*This blog does not speak to the experience of folks living in domestic violence, navigating domestic abuse.*

In the movie “Bad Moms,” the character played by Kristen Bell shares a sentiment about getting “alone time”. The gist of the scene is that she wishes she would get into a car accident, not a bad one, just one that would require her to be hospitalized and taken care of for two weeks. (You can watch the 33 second scene below if you like).


the fantasy of running away is common

I remember being in the theatre to see this film and the crowd ROARED with laughter. The unspoken understanding that many other mothers felt the same way.

It seems that the fantasy of running away is common for mothers. It acts as a type of defence mechanism that allows you to escape, even if imaginary, from the overstimulating and overwhelming realities that many parents face. There can be comfort in imagining a time when no one needs you.  Imagine nobody is asking for snacks, or water, or needing their permission slip signed, a time where you exist only to meet your own needs. 

fear of seeming ungrateful

Although almost all mothers can relate to the fantasy of running away, it is felt in secret, because the vulnerability of sharing it feels too high. Mothers are supposed to be all-giving and love their kids and family beyond everything else. There is a fear that if you share this fantasy of running away it will make you seem ungrateful, or unmotherly and prove that you are a bad mom, which you probably worry about enough on its own. 

The allure of running away is that your needs will be met.  Also the labour and work of parenting and being a wife will be put down. If anything, the fantasy makes a hell of a lot of sense given that mothers are still responsible for 65% of the domestic labour in their families.

the daunting task of being the manager of the house

Mothers are tired and dream of vacationing or running away to help cope with the daunting task of being the manager of their households. It doesn’t make you ungrateful or mean you do not love your children.

It means that you are functioning outside of your capacity.  You have surpassed the threshold of responsibility and are looking for ways to unload it. 

loving them does not need to trump loving yourself

It’s possible to love your family and kids in a way that doesn’t require you to abandon yourself and your needs. Loving them does not need to trump loving yourself. And asking for what you need isn’t selfish, it’s essential. 

What if instead of harbouring this feeling in the shadows, it is shared openly? What if it is validated instead? How about being able to share these thoughts and feelings without needing the caveat “I love my family but…”.  Of course you love your kids.  It is possible to adore your children and still want a reprieve. 

you’re not a bad mom

This fantasy is not an indicator that you are a bad mother, or that you are wrong. You are not an outlier for having these thoughts, this is something many mothers experience.  It should not be viewed as a personal failing, or not trying hard enough. You are doing an incredible job, in very demanding and overwhelming circumstances.

Let’s not add guilt of these fantasies onto your plate, you’re carrying a lot. Maybe by letting go of the guilt will help to make space for you to find something that serves you better, and you deserve that. 

Have you ever fantasized about running away? Feel free to share in the comments.

an imaginary escape: mothers and the fantasy of running away

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Meg Kant




Your future is created by what you do today — that's why we created a completely FREE mindset mini-course to help doulas and birth workers find bliss in their business!


  1. Ashlyne on March 20, 2023 at 3:52 pm

    I literally dream of running away to that Nordic spa retreat in Garson every dang weekend???? any chance you want to have a Garson getaway with me? Serious. check out the website. by the way, I’m catching up on newsletters today????

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