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me time

I Went Away for One Night By Myself. This Is What Happened

woman reading on tablet

Matt Champlin Flickr

I went away for one night by myself last week.

I. Went. Away. For. One. Night. By. Myself. Last. Week.

Yes, I finally weaned my 2-year-old, and as a reward, booked myself a night away. I’m a hands-on mom–I don’t like to let my children cry unnecessarily, and I usually value their emotional well-being above my own. But I need space.

Growing up, I could spend hours by myself–reading, writing, daydreaming, and listening to music. Two of my favorite things were going for long drives and movies by myself. But since I’ve become a mom, there has been too little of this, as my night usually starts way too late–no 7 o’clock bedtime over here unfortunately. By the time I can be alone, I am way too drained, and instead, more inclined to tidy up toys or put away food in the fridge. I know what the next day is like if I don’t.

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So, anyway, my one night by myself was marvelous, fantastic, magnificent, wonderful, amazing, so good. I felt a tweak of vitality returning. I remembered me. I found myself exhaling so many sighs of relief and gratitude.

And, just so you know, I love my kids. One is earnest and thoughtful, while the other is charismatic and hilarious–and knows it. But I need space. And my kids did just fine; in fact, bedtime and morning time were smoother than usual. They were with my husband, and so I could really let go.

On the bus back, feeling a little more renewed and alive, I thought about what exactly it is about being a mom that depletes me. I thought about why I was less excited to return. And it was not because I wasn’t excited to see those two sweet little people, or my husband, but rather a sense of heaviness around my role as a mother–an associated burden that I carry for my children’s well-being.

My mind is always buzzing overtime, doing the math: Are they taking in enough nutrients, growing enough, developing enough? Am I a good enough mom? Sure, there are moments of pure enjoyment, like when we paint or bake and we all happen to enjoy it, but they are few. There are many more times where they have fun and enjoy, but I am simply pretending to smile and laugh, while thinking of the race to bedtime, precious bedtime. The bedtime that allows me a couple of dazed hours to pant in relief at our survival, when I feel like the burden is lifted—until the next day when it all resumes.

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Where is life? Where is the part of me that wants to savor life, the part of me that was there last week? I seem to only bring her out on the odd night away when I allow myself to put my “leaden” responsibility aside.

But what if I can import the vacation me (the me that feels nurtured by the gift of time and space) into my day-to-day?

What if I commit to taking a break from worrying for just 10 minutes a day, and allow me and my gals to do whatever makes me feel alive? Then, my children will actually be given the gift of having an “alive mom,” and I am given the gift of children who are given the gift of being with an “alive mom.”

Perhaps we could put on loud music I liked as a teenager, like Violent Femmes and dance. Or we could sit and blow bubbles–not as a means to keep them occupied, but to look on together in wonder. To give myself a break from this ‘mother identity’ I have created, and from the motions I go through, and to give the “authentic me” that I re-encountered last week a regular stage.

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The initial high of my night away lasted just until the middle of the night that I returned, when I was awoken to tend to my daughter. Since then, I have been in my usual half-dazed state, but every now and then, I catch the scent of the shower gel from my night away, feeling a warmth and well being in knowing that that night took place. I feel hopeful that there will be more to come, even though it does not always feel like it. And now, after writing this, I have a ten-minute resolution to attend to that may just change it all.

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