The Calm Before the Storm – By Cara Potapshyn Meyers
As I am writing this, I am prepared for and awaiting Hurricane Irene to pass by this area of the East Coast. Although several of my friends who live near to the shoreline have already had to evacuate, I am thankful that I am able to stay in my own home. After last year’s tornado, one dinky hurricane is not scaring me away.
Most important to me, at this moment, is that for the first time in, I don’t know how many years, I am alone. Completely, utterly, you can hear a pin drop, alone. I am feeling devinely bliss.
My husband took my son to California to visit with my Brother-in-Law and his family. I felt that this was a perfect time to get our carpets professionally cleaned in our home. The dogs went to the kennel (“Doggie Camp,” as my son calls it). Although I was left to shlep numerous items downstairs and orchestrate this whole undertaking, once the cleaners left, I took a nice hot shower and then a peaceful, completely uninterrupted nap. Sublime does not even begin to describe how I felt.
Family and dogs were all supposed to return home on Saturday. With the forecast of Hurricane Irene passing through our area over the weekend, my husband made the decision to fly back home with my son on Monday. Dogs will be coming home then too. Here I thought I would have two days to relax and unwind. Now it has turned into four! I am completely in Heaven! Even if we lose electricity, I will luxuriate in reading novels barely started or take well deserved naps. As a well designed credit card commercial tags, what I have now is priceless!
From this blessed experience, I must admit that as a Later Mom, I feel we all need significant downtime. This time alone has been truly an unexpected blessing because every one of my typical days is filled with enormous amounts of stress. Putting myself aside, though, shouldn’t every Mom get alone time? Real alone time. Not catch up on e-mail time. Not do some extra laundry time. Real, honest-to-goodness do something relaxing time!
I often cringe when magazines or professional organizers suggest to Moms that they “schedule” downtime for themselves. If I have to schedule it, then how can it truly be considered “downtime?” My personal example is that I have a standing manicure appointment at the same time, every two weeks. Manicures used to be luxurious for me. They bordered on indulgent. Now they have been relegated to a “task” that needs to be fulfilled whether I’m in the mood for a manicure or not. It has lost it’s specialness.
Some say, “You should schedule a walk into your day,” or “Go to a yoga class each week.” Both would make me feel good, but eventually they will also become “commitments” that I will eventually resent. “Scheduling” in true relaxation time just doesn’t do it for me. I need unexpected or minimally planned “me” time. I anticipated having two “alone” days this week. I now have four! What an amazing, precious gift!
Our recent Guest Blogger, Holly Sklar, made the same point. She described “Date Night” with her husband as almost another task on the “To Do” list. She stated that the thrill and excitement of it, especially after a full, busy week, felt like another chore. Even as couples, relaxation time together is no longer what it used to be. As she pointed out, as a Later Mom, parenting, having a full or part time job, and running a home, drain the life out of you. And as she admitted, she almost resents her children for it, even though she loves them passionately.
So where does this leave us? If we schedule in some pampering or relaxation time, we risk having it turn into a chore. If we don’t schedule it in, we get drained, cranky, and worn down. There needs to be a happy medium.
I found, especially through this unexpected gift of alone time, that by asking for it may be the best solution. When you are feeling the need to escape, ask your mate to watch the kids while you hit the gym. If you are run down and need a massage, hire a babysitter or ask a friend to watch your kids. If the sight of books and toys strewn across the room make you want to scream and cry at the same time, ask to get a manicure while the family eats dinner. And while you are asking, request that the dishes and pans get cleaned as well so as not to “smudge” your pretty fingers. All of these unexpected gifts of time will be so much more meaningful and needed at the times when you need them most! They will feel like gifts instead of chores! You will be nurturing your own body, mind and soul.
Lastly, though, reciprocate. A Mom friend of mine who has a son the same age, had my son over for a six hour playdate! I was at a stress point where I needed alone time very desperately. In turn, I took her son for a six hour playdate this past weekend. I could tell that she was equally grateful to have gotten a large chunk of time for herself as well.
It all boils down to what we need, when we need it, and to find a way to get that need fulfilled. Our lives are over planned as it is. So try to get your own unexpected time in. You might be surprised at how easy and effective it can be. If you are even luckier, a roadblock, like my Hurricane, will come along, allowing you to indulge in your alone time just a little bit longer! I’m certainly enjoying mine!