Sometimes revelation hits you in the strangest places. For me, it happened in The Sanctuary (a.k.a., the bathroom). I had locked the door and was pretending to do my business. Of course, the business I was engaged in didn’t require a toilet. It required an internet connection.
Any busy mom knows what I’m talking about. The only way to steal a moment of privacy is to pretend you have terrible cramps, drop whatever you are doing, and run to the bathroom moaning. I use this technique carefully, because I don’t want my family to figure out my trick. I depend on the 5 minutes and 23 seconds of alone time to stay grounded. Just a few quiet moments to remind myself I love the tiny people who will invade my sanctuary before I am ready for them.
The revelation happened as I shoved leftover Easter chocolate into my mouth with one hand and logged into social media with the other. Although I knew I needed to be alone, I felt a little ashamed about my behavior. Hypocritical, even. I was eating candy exactly like I told my kids not to, and I was hiding to spend time on the internet.
I was desperate to tell my virtual mommy friends about the latest fight I had with my son. I needed their encouragement, their war stories, and their humor to lift my spirits.
My second-grader blew my mind this morning. He dared to throw a toy at me after I asked him to clean his room. The house rule is “disrespect equals removal of privilege” and I punished him accordingly by cancelling a playdate with his best friend. He lost his marbles and threw the mother of all tantrums. Kicking, screaming, rolling around on the floor. He scared me a little bit. He was still sobbing 30 minutes later. I wanted to be consistent with the rules, but I felt like a jerk and I required support. I needed my mommy tribe to cheer me on.
I needed them to fill my bucket.
That was it. The moment of realization came when I wondered, “When my arms are full, who will fill my bucket? When I give myself to the people I love, and they don’t understand the toll it takes, who fills the empty space?” It’s my tribe.
There is power in belonging to a tribe. They are just a few clicks away, and they never fail to offer words of encouragement or give advice from their own time in the trenches. There is no reason for me to be ashamed of hiding from my kids. I’m not stealing from their bucket. I’m filling mine. Five minutes of connecting with another grown-up not only makes me a better person, but it makes me a better mom.
And the chocolate doesn’t hurt either.