I was recently in NYC with some girlfriends enjoying a much needed moms-getaway. This was the first trip I had taken since being a mom that did not include work, my husband or a family obligation. I have taken breaks over the last five years of motherhood and they have been rewarding, fulfilling and relaxing but this trip was exceptionally different. A girls weekend is such a different experience; there is something about being with a group of amazing moms that is irreplaceable.
While on my trip I began thinking about the emotional growth I have gone through as a parent. When my daughter was first born I found that taking even an hour away to take a bath, go for a run, get a manicure, it didn’t really matter; it felt selfish. I felt bad for making space for me. As she got older I found that those hours away became easier and it was not until I was gone for a night or two that the guilt of abandonment would flood into every vein and mom-pore in my body. It was always such a conundrum; I would need a break so badly, I would crave it and wish for it and when it would come I would yearn to have my daughter back in my arms so that I could hug her, kiss her cheeks and play with her curly hair. There is something so entrapping about parenthood isn’t there? It is like an addiction, enticing and impossible to stop.
While on my getaway I realized that for the first time I didn’t flood with guilt or yearning for my daughter. I missed her and called her every day. I sent photos of the city, of buildings and even of food. I bought her little treasures and saw places everywhere that I wanted to bring her, but for the first time I didn’t feel bad for leaving, for enjoying myself. I am fortunate to have a partner that is an amazing parent, friend and reliable adult to care for our daughter when I am away. I realize that without this partnership I am not sure the emotional growth of being away would feel so secure and I thank you, my amazing husband, for that.
As I reflected on the feeling of relaxation and satisfaction I was having on my trip I realized that parenting is much like a marathon and vacations are the medals we are granted along the way. I imagined what it would be like to be on vacation without my daughter back home to greet me in five-sleeps (this is our specials vacation away time clock speak). Having a daughter, working every day on being the best mother I can be and partner for my husband makes my proverbial medals feel so much more fulfilling. There is no need to feel guilty because I have earned this time, I have worked hard, dedicated myself and earned the time I am giving myself away. As a new mom this reality existed but I was far too overwhelmed with love, emotion and the act of healing from child birth to notice it.
As parents it can be so easy to forget that even though we have dedicated ourselves to parenthood we still get to be people every once in a while. We should and need to allow ourselves to take a breath, get away, slow down and enjoy so that life can grant us our well deserved medals.
I am a mother, not a wizard. I share what is hard, what is scary and what is real. The rest I leave to you.