When I sat down to write this post it was suppose to go in a very different direction than it actually did. I sat down to write this post about mommy guilt and how leaving my children made me feel.
You see, I am one of “those guilt ridden moms”.
Those moms who have a heck of a time leaving their kids to do something for my own enjoyment. It has never been easy for me, so last week when I was getting ready to board a plane for a few days away in Washington, D.C. you can only imagine my angst. I mean if dinner out was tough, I was hyperventilating over the thought of being away for several days!
When my first child was born I became pretty caught up in the daily, and sometimes mundane, tasks of motherhood. I spent 99% of my time with my baby and never spent any of my time recharging my batteries, alone. When somebody would ask me if I was getting any “me” time I scoffed at the thought. Not because I couldn’t have it, but because I didn’t want it. I think at the time I figured I would feel guilty if I wanted to NOT spend time with my baby. When I went back to work, I couldn’t bear to leave her for more than a couple of days in the care of others. I picked her up at the same time everyday, not a minute late, or I felt bad. And finally, when a mom’s night out came up I only accepted an invite on the days I wasn’t working because leaving her during the day, and not being with her at night, was just too much to handle (for me of course). My existence quietly slipped into one that my child defined. My identity became that of “Emma’s mom”.
When I became a stay at home mom of two, and soon after of three girls, my identity continued to drift off. I still felt quite guilty about about leaving my children, but also recognized my need for breaks here and there. Still, going out and doing things for pleasure or for “me time” was tough. My husband is more than capable (and willing) to run the roost for a few hours but I was still mostly unwilling to take the opportunities to go. My time out with friends or time alone has been minimal since I became a mom. In the almost seven years since my first child was born, my husband and I have never even gotten away together or spent much time out just the two of us. There has always been a part of me that feels horribly guilty for leaving them.
So, you can only imagine how I felt the night before I was heading out of town for multiple days!
I tucked my girls into bed on Saturday night knowing that I would not see them again until Wednesday. They cried, I cried, you would have thought I was going to be gone a year. It was painful and I really assumed that I was going to be miserable the entire time I was gone.
But here is where my post took a different turn. I was going to write about how I am just “that mom” who can’t leave her kids. Or how guilty I felt leaving them and how I would never do it again. Wrong. Yes, I missed them dreadfully and something inside of me just didn’t feel quite whole without them with me, but at the same time I reclaimed some of “me” again. I didn’t feel guilty for leaving them.
A part of me that had gone missing several years ago came back. I felt like “Jenn” again rather than just “momma”.
I took extra long showers, ate hot meals, and talked to other adults. Best of all, I spent some time alone. It had been years since I truly had been alone and being alone (what honestly scared me most) was the best time of all.
I spent time exploring, went to museums, took a bus tour, and even ate lunch and dinner out dining by myself. I was reminded of my love for cities and exploring new parts of our world. My love for travel still exists and was so ready to take on this journey. A part of me that I used to love came back to life during these few days away. I realized that I could be away from my children and be okay, and that they would be okay too.
I now have a better understanding and appreciation for mothers who take “me” time for a few hours, or get away for an overnight here and there. It honestly is healthy and a good way to bring yourself back to reclaiming the part of ourselves that we so unselfishly give to our children. Moms need this.
We need to remember who we are, who we were before we had children, and who we want to be now that we have them. It makes us better mothers.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not planning any trips away again in the coming days, but if I do have the chance to get away in the future I will be incredibly excited to find myself, again.