Finding Ways to Take Time for Me

The Realities of Mom Guilt: Finding Ways to Take Time for Me

I'm slowly learning it isn't selfish to take a time-out.

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My husband and I celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary this past August. As soon as the summertime hit, we started thinking of places that we could go to celebrate. Since we had our first child in 2014, we have not gone off by ourselves for longer than one night, and even that was a staycation at a nearby hotel to celebrate our 7-year wedding anniversary. So, we knew we wanted to go somewhere grand and we wanted to go there alone. This was our chance to get away, we told ourselves. We need time to reset and reconnect, after all. We were "us" before we were "mom and dad" and tapping back into that side of ourselves is healthy, after all.

Or, so we thought. We finally decided on Hawaii after going back and forth on Key West for a few weeks. Yet, as I started to research the islands, watch tourism videos and learn more about things to do, I found myself becoming increasingly disheartened. There were waterfalls galore, beautiful, sprawling beaches and all the snorkeling you could ever hope to do. In short, it was looking like a kid's dream. I just imagined myself driving solo with my husband along the famed Road to Hana, looking out at all of those gorgeous vistas, and thinking to myself "Wow, the kids would really have loved this." That's when the guilt started to creep in and I began second-guessing everything.

Next, my youngest child, our two-year-old son, started seriously potty training this week. The transition has been a timely and needed one and I don't think anyone was as ready for it as I was, but it came with its own set of challenges. I don't know if it's this new stage or the buzz-cut haircut his papa gave him on the side porch last week, but I can tell my boy needs me more than ever before. Always my best, champion sleeper, he has started crying out for me all throughout the night. He's begged to crawl into my bed, for me to lie on the carpet outside of his crib and hold his hand through the slats. To rock him just a little while longer in our old threadbare rocking chair so I can smooth his hair back and tell him all about the big day he will have tomorrow.

These kids of requests and demands are supposed to drive me up the wall. I'm supposed to be aggravated by the neediness and stressed out by the lack of personal space. Instead, I find myself leaning heavily into it. I lay beside the crib on a makeshift palette until I fall asleep myself, my arm going numb between the crib slats. I leave one kid's room for another, where a stack of books is waiting beside a sleepy, smiling daughter who wants just one or five more bedtime stories. I do it all, gratefully, happily, like it's the most natural and wonderful thing in this world, because for me, it really is.

This is the season of life I'm in right now. I'm a mama. Before this, I was a young professional, the only female and only person under the age of 40 at my technical writing firm uptown. Before that, I was a long-time student and newlywed. I've been an artist, a shop owner, a vintage clothing enthusiast and a cheerleader. I've lived many variations of my life and changed constantly. Throughout, I've embraced all of these points in my life as integral cornerstones to my story. I don't want to be anywhere other than where I am now, needed by tiny hands who will all too soon not want to hold mine any longer.

Yet, there is a tiny part of me that does still want to go on this getaway. I've been looking for ways to truly understand the guilt that accompanies the need for time alone, especially for stay-at-home-moms who have wrapped this identity so fully around themselves it feels like a familiar, favorite blanket. How to I pry my fingers away from a clutched grasp, then slip off to devour fresh pineapple, shave ice and sunsets without feeling a little selfish? The answer is "I'm not sure, but I'm going to learn." I know there are so many ways to vacation with your brood. You can camp with kids, take them on epic airplane adventures, go on exciting hikes and so much more. I can't wait to do those things and to show them the world. I want them to get out from behind their favorite cartoons and look up, look out.

I want them to breathe fresh mountain air and get their toes wet in the Pacific ocean. One of my most cherished memories is going to the Grand Canyon with my family when I was 11. It was the most beautiful thing my eyes had ever seen and I felt so incredibly small against it. I want my kids to feel that way, to gain that perspective. I want all of these things for them and yet, I'm not certain they're ready for them. They are two and four and still very much finding their identity and their comfort within our cozy home.

So, I'll feel the guilt momentarily. I'm sure the airport drop-off will see me weep with concern, confusion and gratitude for the mothers in my life who are making this all possible. Yet, I hope that as that plane takes off for the island, and my hometown becomes a speck on the horizon, I can learn to embrace this time away as an investment in myself and in my marriage. I'll come back fresher, renewed and ready to tackle this parenting gig like never before. Because as amazing as Hawaii will be and how much I'm truly looking forward to it, there really is no place like home and there's no role I cherish more than this one.

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Me Saying I Don't Watch 'Game of Thrones' Is NOT Your Cue To Convince Me To Start

"Once you've accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you."

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Yes, I have flaws. We all do. But it seems as if though my biggest flaw is that I have never seen "Games of Thrones." Nope, not even one single second. I don't know why I haven't seen it, it's not that I'm particularly against the show. I guess it's just too late now for me to start it, as the premiere of the eighth and final season aired April 14th. And for some reason, I just feel that I'm too far behind to even attempt to start it.

But please, I beg of you, do not try to get me to watch it. I don't want to; I've made my decision that I have missed the "Game of Thrones" train and I have accepted my fate. It's OK, you can use your heavy TV series persuasion on someone else, don't waste it on me.

But not being a Thronie (I have no idea if you "Game of Thrones" fans actually use that term, but it's fine) comes with its own set of hardships. Yes, I know that missing out on "unquestionably the most acclaimed and beloved show on television" is probably the greatest hardship, I know, I know.

But trying to scroll through social media while seemingly every single person on my feed is posting about the show? Now that's hard. I see memes left and right, constant reaction videos, clips of scenes that I will never understand. I see people being shocked by certain characters doing certain things to certain other characters and I just cannot understand! It's tough, it really is. I feel like I'm in elementary school, sitting on the bench beside the playground watching all of the cool kids playing together. I feel excluded and uninvited to the party that is the "Game of Thrones" fandom.

It really is hard. It's difficult not understanding the jokes and comments about all the happenings in "Game of Thrones." But to those who are obsessed avid watchers, I apologize. I sincerely am sorry that I can never understand your "Game of Thrones" talk. I am sorry that my inferior self is not interested in your favorite show.

As some character that I will never know in "Game of Thrones" says, "once you've accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you." I have accepted that my major flaw is the fact that I have never seen "Game of Thrones" and that I, unfortunately, have no interest in watching. So please, don't use it against me. Besides, that one character that I don't even know said that you can't anyway.

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The Beauty of Releasing Anxiety Over the Future

What you learn when you learn you don't need to know it all

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I come from a long line of women who worry. We stay up late at night wondering if we got it all right that day. We stress over the details and sweat the small stuff more than we should. Surprisingly, for the amount they fret, my sister and mother are the epitome of calm. They're collected and graceful, whereas I'm a constant bundle of nerves wound tighter than a brand-new yo-yo.

This year, however, I resolved to change all of that. I determined that 2019 would be the year I released all the anxiety and fears around the future. It would be the year I stopped concerning myself with matters of tomorrow and focused instead on the beauty and blessing of today. We're only six days into this new year, but I have already felt that gigantic weight lifted. Why, you might ask, did I choose this particular year? I will turn 32 this April and I've had plenty of turns around the sun to think about getting it right. I've had time to relax, time to recharge and time to start anew.

So, why this year? Put simply, I can tell this is going to be one unlike any other. We're moving out of our home in the next few months, in preparation to begin an enormous remodel project on a nearby family home. As we do so, we're going to be living with my in-laws, our oldest starts kindergarten in the fall, and we're both planning to ramp up our careers by taking on new challenges.

In short, I could easily approach these new obstacles with a jittery heart and nerves that are shot before the day even begins. Yet, each day has its own struggles and if I were to look at this year as a whole, I'd be overwhelmed by the extent of it all. Between school, sports, work and this project, there is no shortage of concerns to worry over, issues to fret about and worries to wonder on. It is for this very reason that I'm stepping out on faith and giving the headaches over, relinquishing the lock-tight control I once held over my own day-to-day chaos.

The thing is, I can see where it's all going. I can already see our dream home that will sit on the lot behind the cornfield. There are two creeks on the property, a sod field in the back, and Japanese cherry blossom trees that I can't wait to watch come alive this spring. I have dreams of eating popsicles on the back deck while the sun goes down in the summertime and I can see the kids running in the huge, open front yard, the one that takes us 10 minutes or more to walk up and down the driveway. I can see the measures we are taking to make the home as energy-efficient as possible paying off with lower power bills. I know the garden we plant in two years will be our biggest and best yet.

I know this will be the home my children remember growing up in. We'll take prom pictures here and first dates will end on the front stoop. Still, the process of getting there, of going home, is a long and laborious one and I could easily crawl under the covers and seek to escape from it all if I think about it for too long.

Instead, I'm getting up early in the mornings these days. I'm having quiet time to reflect and recharge my faith. I'm reading more text and devouring fewer screens. I'm taking more walks (another resolution) and spending at least a little bit of time in nature every day. I'm looking my children in the eye when they speak to me rather than rushing by them on my way to the next, more important thing. I'm making a gratitude list at the end of every day with five things that blessed and inspired me. I'm going to bed earlier and sleeping more deeply, my heart fuller than it's ever been.

I'm releasing my ambition to plan every day to a tee. I'm letting life happen and enjoying the ride of letting go.

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