We’re all adults here, so I feel like I can be real with you. Super real. Like, Mr. Rogers-changing-out-of-his-outside-shoes real. Adulting is hard. Super hard. And being a mom is also hard. Rewarding, fulfilling, magical, yada yada, but hard. Anyone who tells you otherwise is possibly selling something. (Get thee down, MLM energy supplements!)
I think that, collectively, we’ve gotten better at talking about the hard, which is one of the reasons I all-caps LOVE having the WMC community to fall back on. Ten years ago when our daughter was just a little burrito, the WMC playgroup was still a few months away from conception. Social media was nonexistent, and we barely even had internet. I had never heard of anyone I knew having postpartum depression. I knew being a mom would be hard- compounded by my tender age and my family being over an hour away- but it wasn’t something that was really discussed. Mothers were supposed to be doting, gentle, infatuated, albeit exhausted and somewhat frazzled, impressionist paintings. Bedraggled Madonnas working hard at being good mothers. I didn’t know that it was ok not to be painted in pastels. I didn’t know it was ok to feel like everything was falling apart because I didn’t know how to soothe my baby. I didn’t know it was ok to feel like I just wanted to run away, even on days when things were actually going really well. I didn’t know it was ok to feel the crushing need to step away, take a breather, leave the baby with my husband and, dare I say it, leave the house! With no “good” reason! Just to do it! I didn’t know. No one told me.
Y’all gone make me lose my mind, up in here, up in here
That’s what I’m here to do. Just because we popped out a little human or two doesn’t mean we, ourselves, are no longer human. We don’t exist in a vacuum. We still have us, our partners, our parents, siblings, grandparents, extended family, friends, co-workers, etc, etc in our lives. We still have people we care about outside the bubble that can affect the bubble. It can be hard to find a balance between managing our interpersonal relationships on the outside and being able to carry on at home. I like to refer to it as herding chickens. Once you think you’ve got everyone in the group pretty well squared away and you don’t need to worry, one cackles and, feathers flying, bolts. Occasionally someone lays an egg. It can be maddening. (And it’s the name of the memoir I’m going to write one day, so don’t steal it!)
Recently I’ve been finding it a struggle to keep familial relationships outside my bubble from negatively affecting my bubble. It’s not a new thing, but lately it’s sort of come to a head. It’s probably the ungodly heat. Hoping it’s not a premonition of some sort, I’ve had the overwhelming need to ‘get right’ with everyone. I’m not going to let the adults in my life who might be even worse at adulting than I am rain on my little family’s parade. I just want to have an Airing of Grievances, getting it all out in the open so we can get to a point where I can have a pleasant relationship with everyone I love, sans cursing when their name pops up on my phone. Two down; one to go.
To bring it back around from Tangent Land: Adulting is hard. Mothering can be harder. Sometimes it’s a lot harder. And when it is, sometimes someone needs a time out. There’s no good reason why occasionally that someone can’t be you. I’m not talking about the times when your crying child cannot and will not be soothed and you need to step away. By all means, do that. What I’m talking about are those mental health moments. You’ve earned them, and I order you to take them.
I struggle with this as well. Maybe I’m using this post as an excuse to come up with relaxing things to do, myself. Balderdash!
Following are some things that I’ve <strike>done</strike> found that lend themselves well to a Mommy Time Out:
Meditation: YouTube is chock full of free guided meditations. My mind is too busy and crowded to try and meditate by myself. My dear friend Michelle, an adorable yogini, turned me on to it, and I will be forever in her debt. Find one that tickles your fancy, lock yourself in a room, sit on a yoga mat, in a comfy chair or lay in bed and try it out. I tried this one out last night. I think it was pretty good. I couldn’t sleep, so I popped in some headphones and turned it on. I was asleep about 10 minutes in.
Salty Meditation: Maybe you’re new to guided meditation and think it’s too corny, with all its “namastes” and “envision your spirit as a peaceful doves.” I can relate to that. Zen for the sake of zen is still not something I’ve fully embraced. Need something that gets so real that it’s NSFW? My other yogini pal, Leia, shared this with me and it’s amazing. It’s almost as though it was written just for me and my sailor-mouthed inner voice. The only thing that harshes my mellow is that it’s not a full 60 minutes long. [Adult language advisory.]
Beverages: Enjoy a cup of coffee before the kid(s) get up. Chill out with a cup of tea on the back porch (maybe iced tea for now) during the afternoon nap. Hand off the baby to dad once he gets settled in after work and grab a glass of wine. Heck, go to Sonic during happy hour, bribe the kiddoes with half price slushes and enjoy a root beer while sitting in the stall and pretending the backseat is empty. Drinking something while focusing on yourself can be very relaxing.
Yoga: Yes, we’re back to the far East practice of chilling out. But seriously, it’s good for you. Pinterest is full of pose how-tos, and WMC has not only prenatal yoga workshops but free mommy-and-me yoga periodically as well (baby optional). Intimidated? Afraid you’ll pull something? Sit cross-legged on a yoga mat while breathing deeply and calmly. You just did Lotus Pose. Boom. Yoga.
Get a Pedicure: This is a no brainer. Paying people to rub your feet is the best. They can get expensive, though. You can often get a cheaper, no-frills spa pedicure and then pay $5-$10 for the technician to spend extra time just rubbing your feet like a genie is going to pop out. Try it.
Car Therapy: I have always enjoyed just sitting in my car. Even back in high school when it was a big, rusty pickup truck and I wasn’t trying to escape a tiny army I’d made myself. Maybe it’s the freedom, maybe it’s the ability to keep others out of your space with just the click of a button, maybe it’s the A/C blowing full blast directly into your face, but I still enjoy it. Leave the kids at home (supervised), park your car in a parking lot near a busy intersection, outside the mall or somewhere else interesting and people watch, read a book, Facebook on your phone, whatever you want. Maybe take one of those beverages we talked about earlier. Enjoy a little Carcation
Last Resorts: If all else fails, sneak a candy bar or a cookie into the bathroom, put a pillow in the dry bathtub, lay back and tell any littles that come to the door to whisper a story to you under it. Don’t be afraid to think of something silly like that, then try to work out how to make it happen. There’s no shame in being resourceful.
Need a little push to take some time for you? I’m telling you now, Do it. You have been very responsible and you need to be rewarded. You’re going to have a time out and think about what you’ve done (or whatever you want). If anyone asks why you’re sitting in a dry bathtub covered in crumbs, you can say “Anna told me I had to.” Blogger’s orders.
Anna is editor of the WMC newsletter & the SAHM of Shelby, 10, and Harrison, 8 months. When not breastfeeding the latter or cracking wise with the former, she enjoys reading, writing, researching, and using Pinterest to pretend she’s good at organizing.
She encourages you to share your story with her for a featured blog post by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.