Alone Time

Don't Mess With A Mom's Sacred Space

For me, that’s my car.

by Natasha McKee
mom in sunglasses driving happy alone in car
Mindful Media / Getty

My SUV has been in the shop for about a week now, and honestly, I’m losing my mind. “I don’t get what the issue is,” says my adorable, yet oblivious, husband. He doesn’t understand that it is not just a vehicle. It’s not just how I shuffle my kiddos from ballet to soccer and back to gymnastics. The car is my sacred space. And sometimes, I just need everyone to get out of it.

Lord bless him, but my spouse also doesn’t get why I insist on running errands alone. (Or maybe he does and just pretends he doesn’t, hoping I don’t run out the door sans littles in tow.) It’s not that I’m avoiding my kids. It’s just that sometimes I need a break from them. Yes, I said it.

Don’t get me wrong, my family is the light of my life, but too much together time can feel overwhelming. Between mom-ing, working, and the other million roles I fill, I need some downtime. And it’s not as easy to get as you might think. I do what I can to keep from rocking the boat too much. Kids will still get fed and bathed. Dinner will still be cooked, and dishes will be washed. All I’m asking for is my family to honor my time in my SUV alone.

Don’t Mess with Mom’s Sacred Space

Saturday mornings are my favorite. It’s the only day of the week you’re likely to catch me (intentionally) rolled out of bed before 7 a.m. What gets me up and moving? The chance to hit the Starbucks drive-through and maneuver through the grocery store without small people.

I don’t want to referee when they race each other up and down the aisle, knocking things off the shelves. And I certainly don’t want to fish random things out of the cart that are absolutely not coming home. I just want to listen to my favorite podcast and pat myself on the back when I stick to my grocery list (or close enough). I want to sip my overpriced coffee that won’t get spilled by small hands in a tug of war game over who gets to push the cart.

Growing up, I never understood why mom would grab the grocery ads and spend the morning zipping back and forth to three or more supermarkets. All that time in the car? Why? After I had kids, it seemed to make more sense. Sure, she was trying to get the best deal by saving money here and there, but I suspect she was probably trying to carve out her own sacred space, too.

So Here’s To You, Mom

Sometimes it’s just driving to pick up dinner alone. Other times, it’s getting to school early for parent pick up. But my special time is in my SUV. It’s still and it’s silent. If I’m trying to catch up on work, it’s just me and the clicks of the keyboard, without hearing “Mom, mom,” every five minutes. I mean, do you know how much you can get done when you aren’t being pulled in 100 different directions? And it’s amazing how much peace you can find in having time for the things that light you up.

But sometimes I just sit and catch up on my Netflix show in the pick-up line waiting for the kids to get out of class. Other times, it’s just about having the opportunity to relax and take a deep breath. There is nothing better than a deep sigh, or a good story to relax me.

I pop open a book and lose myself in the story. Yes, take me back, like way back, with 16th-century French historical fiction. It’s a break, and moms are allowed to have breaks. And that time is ultimately restorative: There is nothing like that still silence to bring you back to center. No matter how obnoxious the kids or your partner has been. No matter how many things have been spilled, dropped, or broken. Having a spot where you can spend a little me time without interruption isn’t just good for you. It’s good for everyone who interacts with you.

So moms, here’s your reminder. Give yourself grace and take some time for yourself. Even if that just means sitting in the parking lot in blissful silence.