Last week I returned from a week long trip to my home town of San Diego. I went alone. I drove 12 hours each way. It was heaven to be in the car alone for that long. Although my ass hurt, I reveled in the peace and quiet. Upon returning, I came up with 5 big things I learned from being away from my husband, 4 year-old son and 2 year-old daughter.
1. Good moms really DO take solo vacations. I had so much guilt over this. I could not put to rest the voice that told me, “Good moms don’t leave their kids. Ever. “ But, I knew something had to give. I knew there was a major reason I was snapping easily at my kids and my husband, watching the clock and waiting for bedtime, and trying to remember why I had quit drinking. Being a mother is hands down, the hardest job I have ever had. I knew I needed a break. A break from the madness. I wanted to sleep the ENTIRE night through. I wanted to go to the bathroom alone. I wanted to take a shower without being burst in on with some crazy drama. That’s really all I wanted. The thing is- good moms ask for what they need. And I needed a freakin’ break.
2. The whole world will not stop if I leave my every day job as a mom. I thought that by some unknown law of Newton, gravity as we know it might shift or all together fall to pieces if I left home for more than one day. I had to let go of the fact that my husband would probably feed my kids take out pizza or McDonalds every night while I was gone. (I didn’t ask, he didn’t tell AND I decided NOT to pre-cook every meal for them. Like I had freakin’ time for that?). Bottom line: I had to let go of control. For those of you who think I’m speaking another language: Letting go of control means trusting that other people are capable. It means instead of stressing out over what might happen if you don’t take care of it, you say, “It’ll be fine”. Still feel foreign? You need a vacation.
3. I really DO love staying home with my kids….most of the time. Months ago I wrote a post about when being a mom sucks. And before that I felt like the worst mother in the world. Since then I’ve really come to terms with the fact that I don’t love staying home with my kids full time. I know this says nothing about how I feel about my children. All it says is that I love my job and the work I do. It fulfills me and brings me joy. It allows me to be my true, authentic self and serve the world. In turn, it makes me a better mommy. Being away from them allowed me to hit the refresh button. I remembered how much I love their little faces. How much I love watching them play. How much I love having conversations with them about everything from Legos to God. I want to look back on their childhood and remember that I was happy. Not stressed and exhausted.
4. I enjoy my own company. While I was gone it was my birthday. I had dinner at a restaurant alone for the first time. Even as a highly extroverted person, there are times when I just don’t want to talk to anyone. Where I can just be with myself.
5. I HAVE to have fun in my life to feel alive. One of the main reasons I needed to go on this trip was because I realized why I was feeling edgy: I wasn’t having much fun in my life. Sure, we go do some fun stuff on the weekends, but going to see “Cars 2” just doesn’t cut it. Again, this says nothing about how I feel about my husband and kids. Every day I am enormously grateful for them and my life. Just because I now have them, doesn’t mean I am not the same girl I was 10 years ago. The same girl that needs to have fun. I’m talking the laugh-your-ass-off with girlfriends kind of fun. The try-on-ugly-dresses-with-your-sister kind of fun.
So, I'm curious. What is something you've done as a mother that you knew you had to do for YOU? Or are you feeling you need a break now? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.