“I love my kids. Of course I do.”
I’m not saying it in a way to try to convince you or myself, but perhaps adding “of course I do” to my statement gives me away a little bit.
Let me rephrase: “I love my kids. Of course I do. But…”
But I love being away from them too. I love it so much.
There, I said it. And it’s the cold, hard truth.
When they were growing up, my favorite part of the day was bedtime. I know this is probably every parent’s favorite time of day, but dare I say, I loved it more?
Bedtime for them meant freedom for me. I could restore a bit of myself, if only for a moment. I could frolic and read and do laundry and get organized and just be by myself. No one hanging off my shirt tails, and no one whining. No fighting, no entertaining, and no feeding. No homework supervision. No life lessons. Just me, myself, and I on a mini-vacation from the Mom Store.
Bedtime tuck-ins were always followed by an impromptu dance back down the hall once the doors were closed and the lights were out. My arms would pump to the heavens in sweet, sweet victory.
I am convinced that this is the sole reason many mothers become both wine-drinkers and night owls. We just need time to breathe. We need time to not be mothers.
The school bus was a sight for sore eyes. When they got on that bus and I watched it roll away, I experienced a sense of glee — a complete sense of giddiness that never came from anywhere else. Even if I was headed straight back into the house to clean or cook or do whatever, at least I could do whatever, completely uninterrupted for an extended (if not finite) period of time. I could sit my ass on the couch with a big bowl of buttered noodles and watch TV if I wanted to and not be judged. An empty home became a judgement-free zone rather quickly.
I felt the same way about the small miracle called the playdate. Loved me some playdates. When my kids were at a friend’s house, life was pure magic. Now, please know that I always reciprocated; I wasn’t that mom who dropped her kids off repeatedly and never returned the favor. But the moment my kids got out of my car and went to someone else’s house to play…well, it was like the skies opened up and out poured butterflies and unicorns.
My whole world changed. For a couple hours, I didn’t have to be responsible for anyone else. I didn’t have to mold the future.
The sense of relief I felt when my kids weren’t around was real. Because when they were away, I couldn’t mess them up. I didn’t have to be careful about saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. I didn’t have to cover my frustrations or hide some of my true feelings. I didn’t have to put them first. I didn’t have to be kind or strict or sweet or angry. I didn’t have to do the right thing or think the right way or be anything. For a little while anyway, I didn’t have to be Mom running the Mom Store.
Getting a short-lived-but-much-deserved break from being Mom made all the difference in the world for the renewal I felt when I had to clock back in.
And by the way, nothing has changed now that my kids are older. I love it when they have plans. I love it when they aren’t home. I love worrying from far away instead of up-close.
Maybe I’m being a bit too honest here, but it’s the truth. And there is something to be said about telling the truth.
Let me make something clear: I still lie awake at night thinking about them. I love them fiercely, I love them unconditionally, and I love spending time with them. If they aren’t happy, I’m not happy. If they are hurting, I am hurting. If they are failing, I am failing.
If they are stuck on the side of the road, guess who’s hopping into her car half-dressed and half-asleep to go get them. If they mess up, guess who spends hours talking it through and helping and listening. Guess who will always decorate the house for Christmas and make delicious egg sandwiches? And guess who still puts together care packages filled with food and cleaning supplies to send off with a loving, heartfelt note?
I’m there for them in every sense of the word, but I also like not being there. I like not being needed.
Actually, I love it. Hope that makes sense.
And I don’t see a problem with these feelings. I know I’ve earned a relaxing vacation from running the Mom Store. I’ve raised my kids to be responsible, independent adults, and they don’t need my constant input or inquiry. They can do them, and I’ll do me, and it’s a very happy arrangement.
Besides, they know I’m still open 24/7 and on holidays — even if I’m watching TV in the back room with a bowl of buttered noodles on my lap.