I want a vacation, even a long weekend, all by myself with no one else to clothe, no one to come to the bathroom with me or to ask to nurse in the middle of the flower store. Maybe it’s the developmentally appropriate but exhausting conflicts that come with having a 2 1/2 year old. Maybe it’s that the last three years have been hard ones full of lay-offs and other money concerns, health challenges and innumerable other setbacks that add up over time. I’m sure there’s not one cause.
What I do know is that I need alone time and big sleep. I need to attend to my own needs. I just can’t seem to do it in a way that has any lasting effect. We used to go to playdates and the park, but as kids have moved into toddlerhood and hit each other or grab toys or yell, my sweet and sensitive son has become more and more resistant to being around other kids. That park and playdate time gave me space in my day to recharge, to talk to other mamas going through the same things we were, to feel less isolated and more supported, to get ideas.
It’s not like I don’t have help. My mom lived in an apartment close by through this past winter and hung out with my son two or three afternoons a week. The time they were together was never enough for me to get recharged. I was just catching up. My husband and son will hang out for five or six hours on a Saturday so I can run errands, write, garden, sleep in or read. It’s not enough.
I’m missing the pre-mama days, when I could browse at the library for as long as it took me to find books or I could sleep in on a Sunday morning and go to a movie in the afternoon, when I could give myself a break if I needed one. It used to be that after a few months of working 50+ hour weeks, I’d start counting down to Friday’s end of business. I’d spend Sundays dreading going back to work the next day. When I’d start feeling like that, I’d schedule some vacation days and whether I was leaving town or not, I’d give myself some extended time to just take care of myself. Now I don’t really have the option of giving myself that kind of time. We’re breastfeeding and co-sleeping and my son’s not quite ready for school. And that’s all okay. I don’t want to stop doing those things.
But I don’t want to be counting hours until nap or bedtime. I don’t want to spend the time I’m with my son wishing for a break. So, I’m looking for suggestions. How do you renew yourself when you’re out of fun re-directs to avoid a conflict or you lack the energy to come up with new games and give your days some variety?
I know it will be years before my son is ready to be in school every day or he’s ready for a slumber party or sleep-away camp. In the meantime, how do I get back to being the happy, fun, engaged mama I like to be?
Sonya Feher is a mama and writer living in Austin, Texas. She blogs at http://mamatrue.com.