He kissed me goodbye, looked me square in the eye, and said:
Promise me you will be good to yourself? And limit the TV bingeing, okay?
Off they went, 2/3 of my team, my everything, embarking upon their first daddy-daughter trip.
I stood in the street waving elated by the thought of “me time”, of alone-time.
In my near future, I saw take-out food, hot baths, and several books. But then it only took a minute to start missing them. Just one moment before I noticed how still and quiet it all felt and the uncertainty began to rise.
(IMPORTANT: I was not complaining then, and I am NOT complaining now.)
I was on my first “Mom-cation,” physically kid-responsibility-free and home alone for the first time in four years.
I had spent days planning and packing for their trip. Loading up their bags with all the “back-ups”, and “plan Bs”, and “just in case” items. Anything necessary for them to feel they could access “home” whenever they needed it. I worked diligently to prepare them for their departure.
The “doing” was the easy part because that is my default setting. I was prepared for everything up until that moment of goodbye exceptunprepared for what would come next, for the solitude that awaited me.
So, there I sat in my house, just me and my thoughts.
No one else’s interests or needs. No one else’s timetable, agenda, or pace. No one to care for except me. The pressure came on:
Hurry up and bring yourself to a relaxed state immediately. Oh, but use the time wisely and be productive. Do all those things you have been meaning to do, and do each in its entirety. Be active. Also, be social.
In response, and in spite of his request, a strong temptation lingered in my brain to spend the next three days on the couch controlling the remote and catching up on that TV series about surgical interns and their steamy dating lives.
But I didn’t because I knew I was trying to find a way to numb the pressure, and that in the end numbing would not prove restorative.
Next, I considered the thirty-seven or so projects I might complete. Maybe I could get everything I had consistently put off done. Like cleaning the basement, scrapbooking the last three years of my daughter’s existence, or reorganizing the growing mound of her clothing bins.
But I didn’t because I knew starting even just one could put me on the downward spiral of task-mastering that often leads to depletion.
I granted myself boat-loads of permission and my “Mom-cation” itinerary went something like this:
Day 1: “Settle in and slow down…”
I stayed home ALL DAY. Reveled in the quiet. Ate whatever I wanted. Felt joy, then sadness, over and over again. Tried anything to stay above my emotions. Meditated. Hugged the dog A LOT. Watched just a little bit of those interns. Left most of the lights on and went to bed early.
Day 2: “Get out and gain some speed…”
I went out. Made a shopping trip in an attempt to update my wardrobe. Stood in the aisles bewildered by current fashion trends. Opted for new jammies for the preschooler instead. Dinner with friends.
Day 3: “Start shifting back into gear…”
Drank a lot of hot coffee and sat in gratitude for just sitting. Completed chores. Went back to “next, next” mode of operation. Watched the clock. Joyfully anticipated the team’s (and reality’s) return.
Just Me, But Me
My “Mom-cation” may have been a break from the regular hum of responsibility, but it did not feel carefree. In the stillness, I had to take extra charge of myself. With no one around to care for, I had to pay attention to a different responsibility, one that so easily gets gobbled up in the hustle and bustle and flexed-sense of self that sometimes is parenting: balancing all parts of me, my “doing” and my “being.”