I am currently on a bus leaving my closest major city. I took a train to get to this bus station. I am on my way to the ocean during one of the coldest snaps on record. At the end of this bus trip is my best friend, whom I last saw in a hospital bed, and six other women who live my life in one way or another.
Saint Daddy drove me to the gas station across from the train station nearest our home this morning. I kissed my children goodbye, bought some hot tea, and boarded an express train to the city.
Before leaving work yesterday, I checked my email one last time and promised myself that I would not look at it again until Monday morning.
My friends and I have tickets for shows and plans to dance and eat and laugh for an entire weekend of limited responsibility and limitless fun.
We are all wives. We have all been married about ten years. We all have at least two kids, ranging in age from ten years to ten months.
We have spent the last eleven years supporting and loving each other from all over the country. This weekend, we meet up to celebrate life and friendship.
When I mentioned this trip to people, the resounding sentiment was “good for you” or “you deserve this.”
I never really considered time with my friends as something that I deserved, yet as a mother, the notion of me just going out for a weekend is one that seems to require justification.
Why is that?
The other question that I have been asked is “What are you doing with your children?”
Let me address that first.
I assumed that the cat and dog would take care of them. I gave the dog a pep talk about the importance of letting Grumpy and Sleepy eat their own food before eating it herself. As the cleaner of our two animals, I put the cat on diaper duty. She will be more thorough about avoiding diaper rash, I am sure. Sunshine will fend for herself like a wild animal. She will decorate her hair with bows and live on cheese sticks and rice crispy treats and the blueberry muffins she and Saint Daddy made together yesterday.
Wait! I guess I should have considered that Saint Daddy would make a viable option as a guardian for our children this weekend. I wish the dog would have mentioned something…
Since I work outside of the home and Saint Daddy works from home, he has always been our children’s primary caregiver. He is great at it. We both have our strengths. The other day, in reference to a scene from The Office, he said he is more of the day-to-day guy and I am more big picture. He does the dishes every day; I clean the windows a few times a year. He changes more diapers; I spend more time on reading skills.
And you know what? If Sunshine does not practice her sight words one time this weekend, Sunshine will be fine. Saint Daddy will feed her well-balanced meals, brush her hair, and get her to bed by 8:00. He does not need me to survive the day-to-day. He can survive just fine without me.
He wants me as his partner, and I complement him well. He is better with the schedules and details. I am better with holiday magic and childhood wonder. We parent as a team, and when necessary, we can both do it solo.
My children are fine this weekend.
Please do not worry for them.
Worry about me. I deserve this.
I am tired. These last six weeks have been difficult. Between Sunshine and my best friend being sick and work issues and deadlines and, oh yes, I began graduate classes at the beginning of January, I have had little time to process my world.
I have been overwhelmed with life.
I reached out for support and felt isolation. It is not anyone’s fault. It is probably my own. I blame no one.
I made my decisions. I chose to bear it for too long.
As a mother of two nearly two year olds and a five year old who works full time, my days are jammed. After work, I try to practice Sunshine’s reading skills, run, do my coursework, play with my sons, bathe little people, get everyone in bed at 8:00, and clean up the living room for our babies to destroy again the next day.
It is go, go, go until Saint Daddy and I get into bed.
We are tired. We are weary.
We are happy. One day, we will look back on these days that are moving so quickly and we will feel deep longing. Our lives are messy and beautiful.
But we are tired.
I dare anyone to judge that sentiment. We can love our children and be grateful for them and be the very best parents for their little souls, and still feel a permanent sense of exhaustion.
There are no breaks for parents. Not unless they give them to themselves.
This weekend, I am taking a break.
I miss my babies already. This is not selfishness. I am not pretending they do not exist. I am not shirking from my duties as their momma. I am not choosing myself over them.
I am recognizing that a tired momma is not her best self. A tired momma is not the momma my babies deserve.
In a very real way, I am spending a couple of days away because my babies deserve a momma whose mental health is not completely taxed by the constant pressure to do everything.
This weekend, there will be many fewer things for me to worry about.
I am great at worrying.
The thing I deserve is not really time away from my babies but time away from my worries.
I am halfway to the ocean. It will be cold outside but I will have friendship to keep me warm.
And when I return to my wonderful family on Sunday afternoon, I will be all the better for my time away.
We all deserve this.