I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror last week. It wasn’t great. As I wrote about recently, momming has been more intense recently with the onset of the Terrible Twos. My husband has also been traveling a lot for work, which adds up to me, home alone, hours and days on end, tending to a moody boss whose demands vary by the minute. I thought I had been handling it well, but it had taken its toll. I had reached hot mess mom levels.
When my husband returned from his work trip, I lost it. I was finally able to unravel from weeks of pent up stress. I’ve done well containing myself the past few weeks (or so I convinced myself). Turns out I wasn’t exactly dealing with it and instead, I put all of that stress in a box, waiting until my husband was home and able to fully take over before I opened that box and spilled the contents all over our Saturday morning. He was expecting a loving reunion, I unleashed a bit of hellfire. Sorry, honey.
So in a move that was bold and spontaneous, I told him I needed to GO. I needed a break that minute and decided on a whim that I was taking myself out for a date and he was going to hang out with kiddo all day. He was fully supportive, if a bit bewildered. While my husband put the kiddo down for nap, I put on make-up and a dress, and headed out for a date with Me.
I thought about calling a friend or my sister, but I realized I needed alone time. Actual, pure alone time. That I needed a date with myself the way my husband and I do to make sure we are paying enough attention to our relationship. I had been giving no attention to my relationship with myself outside of the time I take to write. I hadn’t just had fun, by myself, out in the world, in, well, I honestly can’t remember.
First thing on the agenda: see a damn movie. It’s a cliché that parents of young kids don’t ever see movies in the theatre, but good lord is it a cliché for a reason! It is near-impossible to line up all schedules with movie times. My husband and I haven’t seen a movie in the theatre in over a year despite our many efforts on several occasions. I love going to the movies and the idea of seeing one that day, instead of battling about naps and snacks and diaper changes, had me giddy.
I found a theatre still showing The Big Sick, a movie I’ve wanted to see for awhile, and made my way there. I was about forty minutes early, so I wandered around. Even wandering alone is a joyous activity when you’re a mom. I only had to carry one bag. I didn’t have hands pulling on me, or have to tend to any need, whim or demand other than my own. It was glorious already. I popped in to a grocery store to buy a drink for the movie. I had planned on a fizzy water, but left with a can of rosé. Yeah, it was the middle of the afternoon. Which is what made it even better.
I got to the theatre, bought a bag of popcorn and hunkered down in a seat in the back. I have never related more to that moment in Home Alone when Kevin gets a whole cheese pizza just for him. Two solid hours in the dark, in the day, with wine, snacks and attention I didn’t have to share with anyone.
The movie itself was so fantastic. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend. I’ll write more of my review in the August edition of Favorite Finds next week.
After the movie, I hopped across the street into a nail salon. Again, on a glorious whim. I listened to a podcast while I wrote down some notes and generally just enjoyed the buzz from my wine, the buzz from my time alone, the buzz of not feeling like the hot mess mom I know I am so much of the time. I had so much fun.
By the time my nails were done, it was time to go home. I missed my little guy.
I didn’t plan this day of self-care, and I’ve never just bounced like that before. But I’ve been through this long enough to know when my well is dry. When I can no longer act effectively, warmly, calmly. When I need to tend to myself effectively, warmly, and loudly.
Yeah, it would be great if I could see it coming and make a plan that didn’t require me reaching my limit and having a meltdown, but it’s also the nature of the beast. You keep it together, until you can’t. I build other things in, too, like phone calls with girlfriends, and walks, and book club, that keep me feeling sane and like a human whose sole identity isn’t mom. Even still, the hard days accumulate quietly, peppered with sweet and loving moments so that you don’t always know that the meltdown is sneaking up on you.
I am fortunate to have enough of a shorthand with my husband that he could see the wildfire in my eyes and know that this wasn’t up for negotiation. When I say I’m done, he knows what I mean.
Besides, when I got home that afternoon, my husband had a bit of that wildness in his own eyes. My son had given him hell, too. Adorable, maddening, toddler hell. Fortunately, I was able to breeze in invigorated and refreshed, and offer them both a drink from my well.
If you’re feeling frazzled or drained, I highly recommend you take yourself on a date. Pure fun, just for you. Pay attention to yourself. You deserve it.