I didn’t realize how necessary it was to break free and get away until a friend’s recent visit presented me with a rare opportunity to escape my house, family and #momlife. This was the first time in four years I spent the night away from my children – other than giving birth to their sibling in the hospital. Pathetic, I know.
Being selfish is so far removed from my natural disposition, as I more often than not find myself overextending and ultimately overexhausting myself with nothing left to give anyone, especially myself, that if a friend’s visit didn’t force me out of my house, I don’t think I would’ve ever decided to for myself.
When I finally did break free, I was so accustomed to going a mile a minute in an attempt to keep up with everyone and everything involving my family, I didn’t know how to just be. Without my family’s needs – particularly pertaining to my children – directing my actions, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I had turned into a kid who found it almost impossible to sit still. I couldn’t remember the last time I had freedom or the time to do what I wanted to, let alone figure out what exactly it was that I enjoy. Again, pathetic, I know.
Communicating with other adults was awkward at best. What the hell do I even talk about? I’m well-versed in the language of littles and can easily chat about the hottest toy to hit the shelves, but the years of being a stay-at-home mom had melted my brain, ultimately making me lose my ability to speak “adult.” Trending topics? News? If it’s not Paw Patrol or a recent toy review on YouTube, I have no clue.
Usually, when I’m out in public, I’m surrounded by an entourage of tiny humans. They’re my safety blanket and a more-than-welcomed distraction from any serious or heavy conversation. Without them, it was just me, myself and I, and it had been so long since I spent time with just myself, I’d forgotten who I was.
Even when we went out to dinner, I didn’t know what I wanted to eat. Staring at the menu filled with options, my mind was drawing a blank. My usual meals consisted of toddler leftovers or scraps from their plates. Mac & cheese. Chicken nuggets. This I know. Seared tuna taco? Braised beef brisket? There once was a day I could recognize these options, but now? They were foreign to me.
When I finally was able to relax and let go of that heightened awareness, it was freaking fantastic. I wasn’t rushing around like a maniac, fulfilling my family’s every request and demand. I could pee without an audience and take a hot, long shower without interruption. Any initial guilt about leaving my children and husband quickly subsided. I even had a glorious moment or two where they didn’t even cross my mind.
My fingers didn’t reek of play-doh and my hair wasn’t bathed in goldfish crumbs. Tiny tot snot and boogers weren’t smeared all over my shirt, and I definitely didn’t have any sneaky stickers lurking on my backside, waiting for a stranger to comment on. My lady lovelies were able to stay hidden and remain at bay when usually their immediate presence would be demanded by my 5-month-old.
Best of all, I was able to catch up with a friend without the usual distraction of kids, screaming and fighting for my attention. My thoughts weren’t consumed by the needs of everyone else — just my own. There was relaxation, booze, good food, and most importantly, great company. I didn’t know how badly I needed this until it happened. Now? I can’t believe how much time passed before I let myself enjoy a moment away.
Whether out of stubbornness, pride or an ‘I can do it all’ attitude, I allowed myself to become swallowed whole by the needs of my family, so much so, I almost lost myself. You need to be selfish and find time. Decide for yourself, because the opportunity may come along way overdue.
If you’re smarter than I am and already regularly practice this piece of advice, I tip my hat to you. It took me four very long years to finally comprehend this not-so-secret wisdom – and you better believe, I won’t let that much time pass before I indulge in another getaway.
This post was originally published on Bless this Beautiful Mess.