I could feel the urge coming throughout the day. As morning morphed to afternoon and then to evening, the drip, drip, drip of parenting wore away my patience and threatened my sanity. I could sense the annoyance building to a climax, the frustration and resentment rising in my throat, the urge to burst out the front door and leave it all behind swelling in my belly.
Every fiber of my being needed space, to be released from this trap I’d willingly stepped into. I needed to breathe without someone asking me for something. I needed to think without constant noise or interruption. I needed to feel myself in my own skin, to be someone separate from my three beautiful children, to remember who I was when I wasn’t “Mama.” I’d reached the brink and I knew it.
So I told my husband I was leaving, grabbed my running shoes, and ran away from home — literally.
I’ve never been a lover of exercise, especially running. I’ve never enjoyed it, never felt the urge or craved that runner’s high everyone talks about. But that day, I ran. I ran like I’d never run before. I ran like prey being chased, like my life depended on it. I ran until my heart felt like it might beat right out of my chest.
I ran farther and farther from home. From my loving husband. From my adorable but needy children. From the life we’d spent more than a decade building together. From the torrent of “Mommy! Mommy!” and “No fair!” and “I’m hungry!” and “How many times do I have to tell you?!” From the chaos and the mess and the constantly trying to keep up with it all. From the power struggles and the tantrums and the whining and the noise, noise, noise, noise.
I ran from it all and didn’t look back. I ran down streets and up hills and around corners. And as I ran, I felt the tightness of my shoulders — the physical effect of carrying toddlers and the emotional consequence of counseling tweens — start to melt away. I felt the pile of annoyances drift into the distance behind me. I started to hear myself think my own thoughts. I started to feel myself in my skin again.
I stopped to catch my breath. Looking around at an unfamiliar neighborhood, with family homes not unlike my own lining the street, I glanced through a kitchen window at a woman doing dishes. She wasn’t smiling. Was she a mother? I wondered. What was she thinking about? Did she ever want to run away, too?
I looked back in the direction of home and took a deep breath. As I exhaled, I noticed the urgency that had pushed me out the door had dissolved. In its place, I felt a warm, familiar tug forming, a pull to return to my family. I started walking, my heart beating steadily in my chest again. I was okay. I was whole. I could breathe. I was ready to return and be “Mama” once more.
I walked halfway home, then ran the rest of the way. Back to my family. Back to the life that I love.
Running out on my husband and kids that day taught me a valuable lesson about motherhood. It is possible to love your family with your whole heart and still feel the need to get away from them. It is possible to be fulfilled and fed up at the same time. It is possible to spend too much time in one role and forget to feed your own individual soul. It is possible to burst out of the front door and not look back without guilt. It is possible to find the self you’d lost in a half hour of exercise you thought you hated.
Most moms I know feel like running away some days. When you feel that urge, do it. Grab your shoes and go. Take deep breaths and feel the air fill your lungs. Feel your heart bursting. Drink in the freedom that awaits you just outside of your daily life. Don’t be afraid that you won’t want to come back. You will. Your body will come back sweaty and spent, but your soul will return renewed and refreshed.
I’ve started bolting out the front door regularly, and I’ve never been happier. I highly recommend it to my fellow moms. You may find that running away from home is one of the best choices you could possibly make — for yourself and your family.