Free time as a mom can sometimes feel a lot like a unicorn, a beautiful, mythical creature that everyone loves but very few ever experience. Besides the obvious lack of time, there is the guilt that so easily approaches the minute we achieve some personal time. There have actually been times I’ve left work early, excited to spend some time in the pool, time that I’ve looked forward to all week, and as I'm driving away I think of picking them up early to join me. Being a mom is weird at times.
I’ve always been very conscious of my personal time. I remember working long hours at my auditing job, putting in ten to twelve hour days, six days a week for months. I was tired and was having very little time to myself, let alone time to spend with family and friends. My mom would often try to schedule a family dinner or make plans for that one day I had off. I knew that she missed me but I avoided any commitments like the plague. I was fine if I ended up spending time with my family but I would be damned if I was making any plans in advance for that one day. I loved the idea of a full day with nothing to do and I looked forward to it all week.
I didn’t stress about the time to myself when I was a new mom, in all honesty I didn’t think it was an option. I was a breastfeeding, working mom. I got very little time with her and had little desire to leave. In my mind she needed me and time to myself wasn’t really a thought. Now that I have two girls, both getting to phases where they can function for longer periods without me, I see those old tendencies coming through. I feel the tension and frustration build if I have no time for me.
Time to myself is as valuable as gold. I rarely make plans, almost to a fault where I am practically panicked to make the most of it when I do get the time. Many times I have an internal struggle between relaxing or trying to be productive to accomplish something I need to do, I can’t do both.
I’m learning ways to sneak in some time to myself in the normal day-to-day. I float in the pool while Macie naps, quietly sneaking past Henley. I stay up after everyone goes to bed to write essays or blog posts, edit photographs, read, or watch a movie. I run to Target alone, roaming the aisles aimlessly drinking a Starbucks iced tea. These little nuggets of time help me to feel normal, relaxed, and overall happier.
I have heard this saying many times. I have understood the meaning and I have always agreed with it. In the past few weeks this could not have been more true. For essentially a month I’ve spent every moment I’m not at work with the girls. I was feeling drained, impatient, and visibly frustrated with even the simplest things. I wanted to yell out "I'm an empty cup!" Taking a few hours to myself is imperative to being a better mama to my girls and a better wife. Sometimes in the thick of it, it feels like there is no room for more time. No time to give. I'm getting better at recognizing when I need to take some time, time to recharge and fill my cup.