Poll any of the moms in the room with you or on your social media what they would like to get for Mother's Day and you will start to see overwhelmingly similar answers that will boil down to some form of "time alone" or "me time."
For a second, I think about just leaving. Running away. How long would it be until they noticed? Where would I even go? I don't leave, of course, but today would be a great day to take off. Today, I am drowning in parenthood.
Just because I don't smile doesn't mean that I am unhappy. It just means that I am thinking about something that I consider important. It means that I am trying to find some space for myself in a public place.
We've created a vision that is impossible to attain amidst a life where small people rely on us. A life where we want to be with those small people just as much as we need a break from them most of the time. Inevitably, the grand self care gestures fall apart under their own weight.
Each of my three children have grown up with a mom who has insisted on the importance of her own self-care, but also in building a family culture that values being whole. It's our new normal for the children to see their parents loving themselves while also loving their family.
From the time they're born, kids observe everything. It's good for them to know that their parents are individuals, too, with their very own wants, needs and passions. This is the beginning of teaching kids about the concept of identity.
I've been a parent for over two and a half years now, and I still don't identify as a mom. I mean, I know I'm a mom. I have the stretch marks, sippy cups and sleep-addled brain to prove it. But I don't quite feel like me in this new mom skin yet.
I am realizing that an aspect of growing up has been leaving the fear of monsters under the bed behind, only to have the monsters in my head keep my scared. I'm ready to run toward instinct, even if it's scary and even if it feels counter-intuitive.
Just as families are beginning to lay down their plans for a delicious dinner, searching for recipes, making grocery lists and hauling fall-themed decorations out of the closet, I'm doing the opposite: I'm boarding an airplane and leaving the country. Alone.
Why is it so hard to ask for help? The words get stuck in my throat like a dinner roll I've inhaled without a glass of water, and I'm left dry and weary. The speeches I've rehearsed during angry cleaning are such a waste. I could have been listening to a podcast.
I needed pretense. I needed to feel like I was a real person even though I was really a milk machine. And for me, the way I dress has always been an outward extension of who I am, even as my style has changed.
I can't take a long shower with my tunes on full blast. I would love to meet friends for dinner, but I have a new baby at home. The phenomenon of "me" time exists, but in a different way. In this process, I have learned a few things that I thought I'd share.