I was losing me in motherhood.
Stranded in motherhood by the monotony of laundry, carpool logistics, and meal planning. Stuck in picking up the toys, refereeing sibling fights and begging them to put on their shoes.
Mom. Mom. Mom.
I wanted to change my name.
I wanted time alone. I was at the point where my latest dentist appointment was relaxing.
I wanted uninterrupted time to focus on the aspects of my life I had forgotten and neglected. Hell, even time to just go to the bathroom alone. I missed me.
Stranded in motherhood.
My identity was only defined by motherhood.
Who was I alone?
There was an apprehension of leaving for the first time.
I wiped the chocolate ring around their mouths with a paper towel. I fed the guilt about leaving with chocolate croissants. It was easy for them to see me leave.
I wanted them to call my bluff.
Beg me to stay.
Tell me I was needed and that I couldn’t leave.
I wanted them to tell me that only I knew the daily routine and all the details to make our household run.
My husband patiently waited in the car outside as I quickly finished packing. I got in the car and ran back inside three times for forgotten items. Grabbing my sunglasses, a razor and then water bottle, I was dancing dangerously with the time. I was being rebellious, challenging the potential of missing the flight and skipping the whole experience. I arrived at the airport full of anxiety and excitement. I wasn’t sure if the pit in my stomach was from all the coffee I drank or my nerves about leaving for the first time.
The red wine flowed fast on my lips. I was used to rushed meals and not taking my time. I’d never sat in an airport wine bar before, traveling with my kids never allowed such a luxury. But here I was with my own plate of olives, cheese and charcuterie, a glass of expensive red wine and someone just tending to me. No one was hanging on me or stealing my food. This was the life.
My expectation was that a weekend with my girlfriends would unearth the forgotten me. I closed my eyes and thought about endless cups of coffee, laying on a pool chair, reading the books that I have stacked on my nightstand; doing the things that I always say, “If there’s time.”
I snapped my seatbelt, flipped through a favorite magazine and arrived at my connection. Upon arrival, I was told the original flight’s delay meant I missed my connection thus, a stay overnight in the airport was my final destination today.
It was difficult to see at first. I was blindsided by the loss of control. I fought against being delayed and stranded at the airport; I wanted to right my path.
I missed that the very moments alone I wanted were right there for me. Right at my fingertips. Ready for the taking, I was finally alone.
I moved around the airport like Goldilocks trying to find just the right uncomfortable chair without armrests. I counted the hours down in my head. Eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two and another flight delay, three more hours. I wrote in my journal. I read a book. I read my favorite magazines. I listened to my favorite songs in my ear buds. I drank hot coffee that was not reheated. I ate a meal sitting down. I took deep breaths. It was quiet. I wasn’t interrupted. It was exactly what I had inherently wanted.
Being stranded at the airport gave me everything I had really wanted before the girls weekend had even started; time alone. I met me again. I looked at her in the dirty airport mirror.
Her face was tired and painted with day-old make-up, her hair was greasy and bundled in a bun on top of her head, her clothes were sweaty and smelled of fast food. She did exist outside motherhood but she is who she is because of motherhood, too. She’s vulnerable and emotional yet thoughtful and kind, she has a big heart and knows how blessed she is. But sometimes I bury her under the daily operations of motherhood. Sometimes I lose me in motherhood if I’m not careful.
I paused and held my breath as the plane stalled and then jerked its way to the runway again. I was finally on my way to see my girlfriends. And to celebrate, I ordered two gin and tonics.
My first trip away from my kids started off unexpected and ugly. But just like in motherhood, I held on. My time with my girlfriends was exactly what I expected, wine, pool time, books, writing, laughing, board games, tears, and joy. Being alone in the airport was exactly the time I needed to find me in motherhood. I just needed a break. I needed time to recharge me. I needed time to read, drink my coffee and yes, go to the bathroom alone. It took me a long time to come to that realization. I forgot about the importance of taking time just for myself because when I don’t, it is like letting the family’s laundry go. It’s hard to dig out.
I must find space for me in motherhood. Sometimes I’m at the gym taking an exercise class, sometimes I’m curled up with a book, sometimes I’m at a girls weekend, sometimes I make time for a haircut, sometimes I’m drinking a good glass of wine with cheese and sometimes I’m doing something just for me. I’m not going to bury myself in motherhood.
I’m not lost in motherhood anymore. I can’t absorb into motherhood because I need to take care of myself. And I’m not perfect with that prescription, sometimes life shifts and I get lost for a short time, but then I keep swimming, I take that trip or make time for myself and I find her again. And when I do, a new breath of life is blown into me and my motherhood.
[bctt tweet=”Self-care.I need to take time for me in #motherhood.I can’t absorb into motherhood.” username=”diningwithalice”]
Photos by Sarah Hudson Photography