What would you do if you had a whole weekend to yourself? No one to cook for, care for, or pay attention to except yourself. Nowhere you had to be, nothing you had to do. If you’re like me, you might be confused by the question at first. Wait… 2 days all to myself? I don’t get it. Is this a zombie apocalypse/end-of-the-world scenario?
Then you might be paralyzed with indecision at the unexpected prospect of all that freedom. No husband? No kids? Wha…? Should you be productive? Paint the deck, finish your novel? Should you be utterly indulgent? Naps, pedicures, bon-bons? Should you be solo or social? Go out or stay in? So many decisions, ahhhhh!
I found myself in this unusual situation this past weekend when the hubs decided to take a road trip with the kids to visit family. Suddenly, I was off duty, off the clock, on my own. I had no idea what to do with myself. But I was NOT complaining. Do you know what the beginning of my summer was like?!
When they were finally out the door, I sunk into a chair and exhaled. Ahhhh… I finally had a minute to breathe. A minute to finish a thought, finish a cup of coffee, maybe even finish a book. OK, a chapter. Let’s not go wild right out of the gate.
After I sat in a silent stupor for a while, I headed to the gym for a long overdue workout and a shower. Then a glass of wine on a neighbor’s porch. Then a takeout dinner and a movie, of MY choice. I know!! And I didn’t even have to pause it to put anyone back to bed or fetch them a glass of water.
The rest of the weekend passed pleasantly with a combination of many of the aforementioned activities. Only with yoga and sushi instead of naps and bon-bons because I’m me, not Blanche Devereaux. I (just barely) resisted the urge to
waste spend the entire weekend painting the deck and settled for tidying up the house and sorting through a year’s worth of school papers and kids’ artwork one morning instead. Then I went to Target to buy nice storage containers. I know!! How crazy am I?!
The funny thing is, when I described this to other moms, they totally got it. Getting organized is SO rewarding. You can actually SEE the results of cleaning out closets and putting toys away. Unlike, say, shaping young minds and molding future citizens.
And you know what? With each choice, each thing I did because I wanted to, not because I had to, I felt more like myself. Happier, calmer, more productive, more engaged. It’s amazing how Zen you can feel when you’re not stepping on Legos and unsticking your coffee cup from a Popsicle puddle on your kitchen counter. Or when you’re singing at the top of your lungs to “Starships” while driving home with new laundry baskets. Simple pleasures…
Let’s face it, parenting/working/marriage/life can be hard. Soul-sucking, even. Especially 2 mos. into summer vacation. I had been feeling like a dried-up husk of a person buried under pool towels and snack wrappers, not the vibrant, creative, good-humored being I imagine my best self to be. I was shocked – SHOCKED, I tell you! – that this person is still there, underneath the overburdened, unshowered Mombot.
Now, you might be thinking, Must be nice. I wish I could have a bowl of cereal to myself, let alone a whole weekend. Or, you might be thinking my weekend of organizing and organic salads sounds like your idea of hell. But that doesn’t matter. That’s not the point. The point is that you can make small, deliberate choices towards reconnecting with yourself. Your bliss. Your clean countertops. Whatever it is that brings you joy. You just have to start.
I’ll give you an example. During another burned-out period of my life, I took a class. (Always a good way to shake things up, IMO.) I was lamenting about how I used to love being artistic and having fun and spending time in nature, but now I had these KIDS and a JOB and no TIME and I didn’t know WHAT or HOW to do what I wanted to do. And the teacher said, “Why don’t you just start somewhere, anywhere? Take one small step towards doing what you like and see what happens.”
And that is how I ended up drawing a face on an acorn:
That may sound stupid. But it worked. I was reenergized, more joyful. And it worked again when I decided to explore a new place I’d been wanting to check out. It worked when I said yes to a scary but thrilling experience that was calling me. It worked when I decided to go visit a new friend in a new city, and when I took a weekend trip with some old friends.
I know that I can’t be the mom, wife, or person I want to be if I didn’t do these things from time to time. But I forget. And sometimes it’s hard to find the time or energy. But I say, just start somewhere and see what happens.