I had no idea how much I needed a break.
Have you ever gotten to a place where you don’t even recognize yourself anymore? I know moms all over feel this at a deep level. All of our waking (sometimes sleeping) hours are spent with that eternal checklist.
Homework. Laundry. Dinner. Groceries. Bills. Extracurriculars.
Odds are, just seeing that list triggered a list of your own.
Stop. Take a breath. Put the list down.
I mean it. I want you to dream with me for just a second.
I miss her, too. I miss the woman I was. I miss only having to worry about my-own-self. I miss regular showers and doing my hair. I miss reading books with actual pages and watching movies with swear words. I miss my regularly clean kitchen and not having to do a lap to pick up trash from the other three humans living in my space. I miss concerts. I miss wandering around an art gallery in deafening silence. I miss my hobbies.
This does not mean that I don’t love my kids, or that I don’t appreciate my life. It just means that things are different now.
There is a distinct level one ascends to after having kids and being responsible for these tiny humans. It colors all that we do – and all to our own personal betterment, as far as I am concerned. We are multi-dimensional and understand the world differently after kids. It’s not something I would give up for anything.
But… I didn’t realize how much I missed that woman until I was alone with her again.
It was a bit of a fluke, really. I had a family situation and ended up driving out-of-state to spend some time house-and-dog-sitting for my grandmother. The kids were in school and hubby had work meetings anyway, so I was on my own. To be honest, I was not really looking forward to it. I knew I would miss my family.
I had an entire week of being alone in her house with the dog and a few plants as the only ones depending on me for anything.
It was enlightening.
All of a sudden, I had FREE TIME again.
I completely squandered the first day, if I am honest. I didn’t know what to do with myself. What do I like to do? How do I want to spend MY time? I had no laundry to do, no rooms to pick up. I didn’t need to go grocery shopping. There was no homework to be done, no scraped knees or damaged hearts to mend. I think I ate junk food, snuggled the dog, and binge-watched a murder-mystery show.
I was still working remote – but due to the time change, I was essentially off work around 2 pm. I didn’t have to cook dinners, as bagged salads and canned Spaghetti-o’s are enough to hold me over; maybe some cheese and crackers and homemade applesauce, if I felt fancy.
I googled things to do, what is the area known for, where is the best food, things like that. That got me started – then I noticed patterns of things I was drawn to.
I visited an art museum, took myself on a quest for street murals, and toured a famous architectural site. I found a candy shop that has been in operation since 1942. I attended an art exhibit. I ate at a taco restaurant located in a historic church building and took a local distillery tour. I frequented a nearby deli for some amazing food and fresh baked bread. I rediscovered my love of driving and even of getting lost. I quizzed some locals for their favorite haunts and discovered things even google couldn’t tell me. I watched documentaries and painted landscapes while doing so. I swam in the pool every night. I read for hours on end. I stayed up late. I had a king bed all to myself.
Although all of that might sound busy, it was decidedly slower.
I reveled in my forgotten independence. I felt re-discovered.
I had a chat with my husband on the way home. I was recounting all of this to him and noted that I think this needed to become a regular thing for me. I am an introvert by nature, and I think this might have been the first time I felt charged up since before having my girls. We decided that my regularly scheduled exile from the homestead was prudent and will be working to install that upgrade in the coming months.
Overall, it’s hard to take inventory when self-care feels like just another task. As the saying goes, it is hard to pour from an empty cup. I didn’t know my cup was empty.
Check your cups, lovelies.
Do you need a refill?