One of the problems with having a husband that is away all the time is that… well, I just don’t ever get a break. I don’t ever have moments of silence (my kids won’t even take naps anymore), or minutes of solitude. I crave “me time” activities like reading a book, but I would feel pretty silly hiring a babysitter just so I could read a book.
In my years B.C. (Before Children) I was an artist and I worked in art galleries. I rarely get the chance to paint anymore, unless you count finger painting with the kids, and even then my role is more of keeping paint off the ceiling than that of an artist.
In the short term, this is really an insignificant issue. These are typical sacrifices of any parent – it’s just a given that when you have kids, you give up parts of your life to raise your children. In the long term, however, this sacrifice can really take its toll. The problem that I have is that I lose sight of who I am as an individual, aside from being a parent. I spend all day “serving” my kids and fulfilling all of their needs – cooking, cleaning, laundry, taking them to the park – and eventually I end up feeling more like a mom-bot than a human being. It’s like I go on auto-pilot and I can’t even remember what it is that I enjoy doing.
Lately I’ve been feeling a lot like a mom-bot, which is why I jumped at the opportunity to escape for the weekend. On Thursday, my friend Norah was telling me of her plans for the upcoming weekend. She described how her band, Yogoman Burning Band, was performing in Port Townsend, Washington on Friday and Saturday, and how they would have all of Saturday to just walk around town and relax. At the thought of having a whole day to just relax, I sighed longingly and begged “TAKE ME WITH YOU!!!.” I was just joking, but Norah responded, “You should come!” Zed just happened to be standing there and confirmed that it was going to be one of those rare weekends where he didn’t have to work and could take over parental duties. Being the supporting husband that he is, he agreed that I could really use a couple days off.
So I packed my bag and hopped on the tour bus (well, it’s actually a van) with the band. Let me just add that this was the longest I have ever spent away from my children. Two whole nights, totally kid-free! Two nights of fun and dancing! Two mornings of sleeping in! And one whole day of relaxation – a leisurely breakfast, a stroll around town, lying on a blanket in the sun, a nap, a BBQ, and a giant see-saw! I even did a couple drawings in my sketchbook.
I will admit, I did have a few moments of feeling guilty, like I had abandoned my duties as a mother. But I quickly reminded myself that that was a ridiculous idea. Not only is Zed totally capable, but the kids always have way more fun with him anyway. And I was right – they had a really fun weekend without me. And I got a reminder that I am an individual and I need to pursue my own interests. I can not exist solely as a mother and a wife.
That balance between parenting and living life is an elusive one, but I have made a promise to myself to seek it out…