I woke up this morning at 4 am. Well, technically I was also up at 2 and then 3:15 with a teething baby, but 4 am was my official wake up call.
I stretched limbs, rolled over, and kissed my husband briefly.
“Have fun,” he sleepily mumbled.
Two weeks prior, we were sitting at our kitchen table when I said to him, “I’m going to go on a business trip.”
He looked at me skeptically, eyebrows raised. As a full-time mom and part-time teacher, my “business trips” are limited to the work commute and weekly play date. But this was different. My “business” for this trip would be reading, writing, visiting a good friend, and taking a break from mommyhood.
As the CEO of our household, I had had a very productive three years, which resulted in two children who were –so far– doing quite well in this world despite my occasional mistakes. Until this point, I had been away from my son for one night and had never left my daughter. It was time.
So now I sit on a train, looking at graffiti-tagged walls and overgrown hedges as if they are works of art, soothed by the rocking of the rails, and relishing the blissful quiet of this adventure that, to someone else, is a mundane commute.
I fully realize that being able to do this is a luxury. I have the financial means and a supportive husband. And for both I am grateful.
However, I am also realizing that this is necessary.
The distance itself is not important. I could very well do the same thing in the confines of my house or a coffee shop, locking myself away for a while to write, read, reflect. And maybe I will one day.
What I am realizing is that taking care of myself is a necessity too. To some, that might seem like common sense. To me, it was an epiphany.
I think there is a sense of self some of us lose in motherhood that we must struggle retain. Motherhood, I am learning, has shaped me, but it hasn’t replaced me.
I guess this is the Catch-22 of it all. I need a break from parenting in order to be a better one.
I share these thoughts not to gloat, or sound preachy, or even to show off the steaming cup of coffee I can drink without worrying about careless toddler hands. I share in the hope that it encourages someone to take a moment to look. To look for yourself.
Whether that’s in a book, a song, a workout, a piece of writing, or a cup of coffee.
To relish that quiet, even if it is fleeting. That’s what I plan to do.
So the next time I catch myself in the bathroom mirror, holding a baby and trying to negotiate a toddler into pajamas, wearied and worn from the details of the day, I will be able to wipe the steam from the mirror, to look beyond and see myself a little more clearly.