I have always needed alone time. Even when I was a little girl, you could give me a colouring book, some crayons, and a quiet corner, and I was happy as can be. Before I met my husband and had kids, I used to go away by myself all the time. I would head to the mountains with nothing but a tent and some hiking shoes and find trails with nobody else on them. I purposely avoided the “touristy” spots because it was too “peopley.” The quiet. Nature. Mountains. Being alone. That was where I recharged. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anyone that would have come with me. Tons of my friends also hiked, also camped, also loved the mountains. I didn’t ask them because I wanted to be alone. That doesn’t just go away because you have kids or get married.
This past year has been a struggle for many. People lost jobs, lost incomes, lost family members. I didn’t lose anything, yet my anxiety built. I should be grateful that Covid didn’t hit us as bad as it hit others. And I am, but that doesn’t mean that I also didn’t have struggles. That doesn’t mean that YOU didn’t also have struggles. EVERYONE has struggles. To some people they may seem insignificant, to others, they may be overwhelming.
Around five years ago, I was diagnosed with PTSD. The easiest way to explain it is that I had been a paramedic for around 10 years at the time. You can put two and two together there. For me, my anxiety tends to creep up on me. I don’t have to be stressed about any big thing, but a whole bunch of little things can add up. I am really good at pushing things down until they overflow. I get quite noise sensitive. Too much noise and I feel completely overwhelmed. And noise is ALWAYS around when you have 2 toddlers and a puppy running around the house. I become a version of myself that I really don’t like. I take it out on the people I love, primarily my husband and kids. I can’t control it, and that makes it worse.
This past week, I decided that I needed to take care of me. I booked a room at a lodge in the middle of the mountains, with no Wi-Fi, no televisions, no one to ask me for anything, no NOISE. I bought a real book that even smells new. I bought a puzzle. I haven’t been by myself in over 4 years, since before my son was born. The first thing people asked was if I meeting someone there? Was I going with friends? NO. I want to be alone. And that is ok. That is normal. I am always around people. I am around people at work. I am around people at home. I am NEVER alone. I don’t think I have even peed alone in 4 years. Aren’t you going to be bored? God I hope so! I can’t remember what being bored feels like. You are going to miss your kids the second you get there. I also hope so, because I haven’t had the chance to really miss them. I need to miss them.
You should feel lucky to have kids, some people can’t. You are right, I was one of them. We had to do fertility treatments to conceive my son. My body must have figured itself out, and my daughter was conceived naturally. They are both my miracle babies. That doesn’t mean that being a mom isn’t HARD. It’s the hardest effing thing I have ever done in my life. Even if you got pregnant on the first try, it is hard. It is hard for ALL moms, no matter what journey got you there. It doesn’t mean that you can’t feel overwhelmed. It is ok to not be ok sometimes. So why do we get such mom guilt whenever we make ourselves the priority?
I cried on and off for probably the first two hours of the drive because I felt like I was abandoning my kids. I felt guilty for leaving, for doing something that was entirely for me and no one else. I am really good at making sure everyone else is happy and healthy, but I am TERRIBLE at making myself a priority. I knew my husband had it covered, that the kids would be fine, that they would have fun, that sure, they would miss me, but then I would come home and everything would still be ok.
What is mom guilt? A simple search on Google will give you a number of descriptions and how to manage it from people who probably aren’t even mom’s. It simply means that persistent feeling of not doing enough as a parent, not doing things right, or making decisions that may “mess up” your kids in the long run. They tell you to take a bath, to go for a drive, to read a book. Has anyone tried to do any of those things with tiny humans around?! If I so much as lock the door to pee, the kids are on the other side like they will never see me again, little fingers poking under the door. Go for a drive? With kids is generally not relaxing after they’ve passed that “nap in the car” phase. Going by yourself requires you to find someone to watch said kids and that feels like more work than it’s worth at times. And I don’t know about you, but I used be able to read a book in like 2 days, now it takes me like a year and I forget the beginning every time I pick it up.
What I learned from this getaway? I NEEDED this. I knew I wanted it, but I didn’t fully grasp how much I NEEDED it. Why do we feel the need to justify that you still love your family when you want to get away from them? Of course I still love them. Needing me time has ZERO reflection on my love for my family. It is about my cup that was beyond empty and needed to be refilled. It is ok to make yourself a priority. It is ok to do things just for you. I feel refreshed. I will be a better wife. I will be a better mom upon my return. I will have more patience. My cup is full again. And when I notice it getting below half, I will make myself a priority again before it becomes empty. And that is OK I will try REALLY hard not to talk myself out of it like I did so many times before this getaway. YOU DESERVE IT MAMA’s! MOMMING IS HARD!!!
And just because we need to laugh sometimes, here is some MOM GUILT BINGO. Turn it into a drinking game. Just kidding, don’t, you might die! lol