I am currently on a surprise “mom-cation” and I am loving it. Today included a style for my mane, eating Chipotle by myself on the patio in the heat, and a nice long road trip without having to get my toddler out of her car seat for every trip to the bathroom. It has only been 24 hours and I love the fact that I can breathe. But I am a mom, and my heart and life still revolve around my angel of an almost-three-year-old who always puts a smile on my face no matter how irritated I am, and two handsome boys who are every bit as incredible and crazy as their father. They deserve me at my best. They deserve to have one hundred percent of my heart, my love, my attention from the time they wake up to the time they fall asleep, and my constant prayers while they dream. They are the reason that being a mom is who I am, and not just a part of who I am, and not just what I do. I have happily embraced the identity of Momma, and I would not trade any bit of this chaos for anything.
But there is one thing that I think many of us Mommas tend to forget. Actually, I don’t think we forget it. I think we remember it all too well; it sticks with us, and soon, instead of lavishing in our children’s love and attention and admiration, we’re lavishing in our own guilt. Guilt for wanting our heart back.
Harsh as that may sound, it’s reality. However, it shouldn’t be harsh. Your heart was once your own. And then somewhere along the line, you finally gave part of your heart to another person (or maybe they stole it, but that’s besides the point), and that process was hard enough. Learning to share, to be vulnerable, to communicate our love or our pain or our anger. Learning to decorate a bedroom together, or balance household chores, or dual incomes. And then, right when you finally felt like you’d gotten it down, you added another little human to the world who stole your heart quicker than that first person. And then maybe you added another. Maybe that first person came with a little person or two, which made your heart feel stretched rather thin, but you learned to manage and now…
Well now, you are not quite sure why you haven’t watched a chick flick since A Walk to Remember was released. You are trying to remember why you haven’t bought a new pair of underwear since your middle schooler was still wearing diapers. You don’t remember when you stopped digging in your purse for lipstick and started digging for pacifiers. Hell, you hardly remember where you set the diaper bag and the car keys and the baby blanket and the oldest’s backpack and the middle’s tennis shoes, and your Other’s cell phone charger that you borrowed because you left yours, well, you don’t remember that either. And yet somehow, you wake up every morning and you still give everything you can to those shining little pieces of you, and you love every second of it. And like me, you wouldn’t trade it for anything. But you want your heart back.
As moms, we have been gifted with this fountain of love that somehow just keeps on flowing even when we feel like there is absolutely no water left, and we’re worried we’re starting to spray salt (or something) instead. We wake up before they do, we go to bed after they do, and usually even after our husbands do, and lay awake making sure that you have everything ready so that you can do the same thing all over again tomorrow. And sure, you’re checklist of To-Do’s may be complete, and you can roll over, close your eyes and check out. But the truth is, there is one major thing that should be at the top of that list every day that we are skipping, and I dare to think that it may be causing our family more harm than good. We need to get our heart back.
Music. Bath. Books. Animals. Movies. Flowers. Art. Photography. YOU. You need to do you. The thinner you keep stretching yourself, the thinner you get. Thank you, Captain Obvious. So stop! Give the rubber band some slack! Take ten or fifteen minutes a day, and just breath. Take a walk. Read a book. Listen to your favorite song from when you were in high school. Sit on the patio with your hubby and just… SIT. It doesn’t have to be a long time. It doesn’t even have to be 20 minutes! But we need to take that time, and NOT think about our kids; NOT think about our husbands; NOT think about that checklist for tomorrow. We need to take the time to give our minds and our hearts that bit of a break because no one is unbreakable. And the thinner you stretch yourself for your family, as noble as it is, the less of you there is to be stretched. Your kids WILL get less of you, your Other WILL get less of you. And even though they may not notice right off the bat, or you may not notice, eventually it will take it’s toll. You’ll wonder why you snapped at your four year old one too many times; why you greeted your Other with a snarl instead of a grin; why you begin to find yourself feeling lost even though you feel more found than you ever have.
Being a Mom is who I am. But it’s not what makes me who I am. Who I am is the core of the Mom I have become. If my core starts to rot, so does the rest of me. So, find ten minutes. Find fifteen minutes. Find a way to get out every once and awhile by yourself NOT for errands or grocery shopping but to just BREATHE. Don’t do anything that you have to do, but rather do something you love to do. Take a mini-mom-cation, or even better yet, let your Other be Momma for a day or five, and take a real mom-cation.
Trust me. The one hundred percent you’re giving now will pale in comparison to the one hundred percent you’ll be giving when you find your heart again and do not feel guilty for taking it back sometimes.