I want to talk about “me-time” as a parent. Something that is widely mentioned but rarely achieved. We set lofty goals, perhaps taking a hot bath alone, only to be disrupted by pounding on the door and someone yelling “mama!” We repeat over and over week after week “I just need five minutes to myself!” While a toddler is tugging on our pant leg as we balance filling a cup of water for an older child in one hand and stirring the literal pot of food for dinner in the other. All moms and dads get overwhelmed. I probably get overwhelmed more often that I would like. No, that is a fact, no probably to it. I love my boys fiercely and I have thrown myself into them entirely. I am a parentingaholic, if you will.
In July, my youngest starts preschool, two days a week. My oldest was concerned over this. Lamenting to my husband and myself “But MOM what are you going to DO all day? You’re going to be so sad that we are both gone! You’re going to have nothing to do while we are at school.” His comments came from a genuine place of concern. My husband chuckled and said “I think mommy will figure something out. I think she will be ok.”
I am sitting on a balcony as I write this. In Puerto Rico. On our first extended trip without kids in seven years! SEVEN years. The last time we hopped on a plane alone for a trip, I was pregnant with my oldest, and I had no idea.
It was incredibly difficult for me to make this trip. This is the longest and farthest we have ever been away from our boys. The night before we left I did not sleep at all. To be honest, I had a panic attack. As I got ready at four in the morning to head to the airport I was shaking, struggling to even do my makeup. Did I forget something? What would the boys do? I am missing a doctor appointment for my youngest son’s food allergies, this makes me a terrible mom. (Nonni and Pa were stepping in) What if something happens? What if somethings happens to the two of us? What if something happens to them? I am so far away. This seems like a lot of work for only a couple days, I will have so much to unpack with the boys running around once I get home. How is that even relaxing? On and on went the cycle of disruptive, anxious thoughts. I got on that plane though. I am sitting on a lounge chair, listening to a bird coo, the waves rhythmically tumble and roll over the sand, ocean in my line of sight.
This morning I woke up rather refreshed. That is an understatement. I was in a state of pure bliss. We left the glass doors open as we slept, shutting only the wooden and screened doors, the ocean and creatures lulling us into slumber all night long. I woke as the sun began to seep through the wooden slats, the critter noise changing from a cacophony of nocturnal creatures to the cacophony of bright eyed and bushy tailed creatures, the ocean waves swaying me to rise. The worried thoughts silenced all night long by my real-life meditation soundtracks.
As I reflect on how anxious I was about even attempting to leave my boys behind for four days, I am eternally glad I did. I miss them. I facetimed them last night. The oldest was fishing and while excited to see me on the screen, did not put his pole down. The youngest was exhausted because he had refused to nap all day, so while he paid more attention to our goofy grins and pixelated waves hello, he was quiet, rubbing his nose, sleepy eyes drooping, and his chubby cheeks looking even chubbier, his tired face had taken over. They are doing just fine. I am doing just fine. We can take a moment to be apart and life does not crumble into utter chaos, regardless of what my anxious brain lied about.
We have two more ocean swaying mornings here. I feel good about that. Last night I took a shower outside! Outside! The salty sticky air is impossible to argue with. It is the lawyer of relaxation. “I dare you to find a reason to be worried as you take in a deep breath of ocean air, go ahead, see, impossible!” Or what I imagine the lawyer of relaxation would say, I have no actual clue. Please, take the trip, moment, time away. Ignore the voice in your head that makes you feel like you are shirking your parenting responsibilities. It is a bald-faced liar. The salty sticky air can attest to that.
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