This past Thursday night, I went to hear music at night for the first time in over three years. It wasn’t just going out, or getting to hear music, but going out by myself. It came about because I received a link to a sample class on The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal recently. It included an exercise in which you are supposed to write down what you would do on a four-hour solo date. There were rules: no errands, movies, or shopping. It really got me thinking. I actually get a three – four hour block of time on a pretty regular basis, but usually I use it to write or clean the house. So I made a list that differentiated between things I might like to get to do alone instead of with a nearly-three year old in tow versus things that would actually restore some sense of myself.
Here’s the relax list and restore list:
- Listen to music
- Any form of exercise, especially walking in nature
- Create something: write, collage, do beadwork
- Drive in the country
- See music, theater, dance
- Meet with a group of women (writing, mastermind, personal renewal group)
So when it turned out that a singer/songwriter I love was playing out about an hour outside of town, it felt like a perfect solo date. Except I wanted my husband to go. Seeing as we’d be out at bedtime and we don’t know anyone who can put our son to sleep, and the show was an hour away so if we did use our part-time nanny and there were problems, it would take us a long time to get back, we decided it wasn’t a great idea.
Did I decide to stay home? No, I fantasized about driving on back curvy roads through trees and the light of dusk, blasting Ellis on the stereo on the way down, then getting to listen to smart lyrics and the beautiful tones of his guitar in person. But I didn’t actually buy myself a ticket. I invited a couple different mama friends to go. They weren’t available. In fact, the last time Ellis Paul was in town, I was supposed to go with another mama but it was her first night away from her child and she was afraid of being out too late or too far a drive away. I don’t know how to balance my desire to go out with the lack of availability of most of my friends to actually do that. Most of the people I hang out with are moms of young children and most of them don’t go out (at least not beyond the rare dates with their husbands and maybe a monthly mama happy hour).
By the time I finished inviting people who couldn’t come with me and decided to go anway, the show was sold out and I received an email saying I was on the waiting list. The day before the show, I emailed to see what the likelihood was that I’d get in and received a very optimistic email back. I decided to risk it. Even if I didn’t get in, I would have had a couple of hours to myself in the car listening to music and being out of the city. Heaven. I decided to risk it. And I got in!
The Eighth Principle of API is to Strive for Balance Between Personal and Family Life. For me that ends up being a balance between taking care of myself and taking care of others. My question for you is, how do you reconnect with who you are so that you can take care of yourself? How do you recharge? And for you mamas especially, when’s the last time you did it?
Sonya Feher is a mama and writer in Austin, Texas. She blogs at http://mamatrue.com.