About a year ago, my partner and I planned to take a fabulous cruise to the Bahamas. We paid for everything, set a date, and made arrangements for our daughter to stay with her grandmother for one week. For the past year, I had been looking forward to this vacation. As the weeks started to inch closer, I found myself more irritable and frustrated and all I could sum it up to was- I needed a break. Being a mom is tough business. No matter if you are a working mom or stay at home mom, it is plenty of work. As a stay at home mom, my job starts from the time I wake up until well after my daughter is sleeping. I was craving this trip. I was desperate for the alone time I would get to spend with my mate after having to share him with my daughter and everyone else. It was only a three day cruise but the thrill of getting to be there and then come back home to a childless home was pure ecstasy. I sense that some of you are getting excited for me…like yassss, she’s about to enjoy this.
I will go ahead and kill your joy quickly. The cruise didn’t happen. These two overworked parents missed their flight. No, not because we were late to the airport but because Hartsfield-Jackson airport had lines so long that they were wrapped around baggage claim. Our plane left at 7:40 am. We arrived to our gate (with half of the other people supposed to be on our flight) at 7:43 am. Go ahead and weep for me. I did it all day. Matter of fact, I told my partner to give me until 5 pm before he could complain about my tears. Being the good man that he is, he gave me well into the night.
This post isn’t about that missed flight or how I painfully missed my cruise. It’s about the time that I spent alone. When we arrived back home, as upset as I was, I was still extremely grateful to have this time to myself. No mom guilt here…I needed it.
“In my mind, I thought that this space would bring much relaxation and from that I would be completely rejuvenated and ready to go back to my regularly scheduled life the following week.”
My mother even decided to keep my daughter a week longer which means I had two weeks to myself. Instead, I was faced with a host of problems that without the distraction of my daughter, I had to confront head on.
Sleep Is Not A Hobby
Like most overworked parents, I believed that sleeping would be all I would look forward to. I wanted to sleep until noon on most days, lounge while reading library books and casually fall asleep in the middle of the day. Surely, I was so sleep deprived that I would simply sleep on my break and that would be enough.
After day two of sleeping in, my body would still naturally wake up at 8:30 am. By day five, since I was so rested, I would wake up at 6:50 am.
What is life?
I realized that I was bored. I needed a hobby. I needed something to do to wound me up in the same ways that my daughter did for me. So I started running. I was actually inspired by a ladies’ group that I am apart of but it was so refreshing, I did two miles my first day and six my second. This was something I could get into.
Self Care Is The Best Care
I realized that without my daughter, I had no choice but to focus on myself. It was almost intimidating to face me head on in the way that I had to. There was no one to distract me, insist that I give them my undivided attention. There was no one to focus on. But me. And it was hard. I feel vulnerable admitting that but it was. I struggled with where I was in life and in these two short weeks, I debated about going back to school, looking for a job, find some other way to distract me…well from me. What I ultimately came to was that I needed to check in on self and ask her what she needed. The answer is currently in motion.
I Am Not A Victim
My third point falls in line with my second. A lot of times, when we aren’t focusing on self, we are finding a way to blame others for all of our mishaps and misfortunes. I had come to a place of constantly pointing my finger and saying, “my life isn’t going the way that I want it because of this.” In reality, my life hasn’t been going the way I want it because of me. I had been constantly complaining about all the things I would do if I had a little more freedom or a little more help and when I had that space, I did absolutely nothing. It made me reevaluate my negative mindset and release my victim mentality.
Positive People Create Positive Interactions
Catching up with friends with child in tow is hard business. So while my little was gone, I made sure to connect with all of the old friends and some new ones that I had not seen in a while. Almost all of my interactions were amazing but because I was not in the mindset of only having a few hours to catch up and really just using that time to escape from home, I got the chance to look at each interaction for what it was.
What did this person bring out of me?
Why were we connected?
Was this friendship beneficial to my growth?
I paid attention to the conversations I had with each of these people and found that while some spiritually fed me, others drained me. And because I was not in the mindset of escaping from my current reality, I had to face my feelings on this head on and realize that not all connections were beneficial for my life.
Mental Clarity Is A Necessity
One of my dear friends has told me like this, “It doesn’t matter if you are in a crowded room or a quiet space, you have to know how to decompress and find your center“. I know it sounds like some hippie mumbo jumbo (I’m kind of a hippie if you didn’t know) but there is so much truth to this statement. With my daughter gone, I had ample time to sit, think, evaluate, and make decisions. These decisions brought clarity to my life and forced me to start making better decisions and creating positive habits. Now that she is back home, I am finding ways to continue that mental clarity.
Overall, my mommy break helped me become more in tune with myself. Without distraction. Without blame. Ultimately, I was forced to face myself. While I wasn’t completely happy with who looked back at me, I did recognize her. And I loved her. And I realized she loved me. So even though I missed my wonderful cruise, I gained a better reward in return- I found myself.
*All photos taken by Portia Hunter