My mother takes Theo up to her house in Pennsylvania about one weekend a month. The days right before my Mom comes to get him I am so beyond thrilled to be getting some "me time" that I can hardly wait for it to get here. For those three or four days that he is gone, I get to sleep all through the night, sleep in late the following morning, go out with my girlfriends and have a blast, and just basically do whatever it is I feel like doing. And trust me, as a very single mom, by the time his PA visits come along I am in sore need of the time "off", as it were.
Here's the thing: when she comes and I am getting him ready I start to feel a pit growing in my stomach. As I stand on the curb waving Goodbye to my son and yelling my "I love yous", I feel like I've been emptied of something huge inside. Then I go upstairs and face my quiet, empty apartment and feel ridiculously lost. I shake it off fairly easily, go about my business for the evening and finally go to bed at some point later in the night. Then I wake up the next morning, face the stillness of this place with a slight sense of dread, and actually have to force myself to remember that he is only gone for a couple of days, and that these little vacations away from each other are an invaluable way to re-energize myself, renew the value of our connection, and remind myself that I must, MUST have other reasons to live besides my son. It is, in my opinion, way too unhealthy to live solely for your children. Much, much sooner than later, your small children grow up, and although you as their parent will always be their foundation, your physical nearness becomes less and less of an imperative. They grow, and rightfully so, they grow away from you. They value their connections with their friends, sports, or whatever else they have going on way more than they value their time spent with you. My son, no matter how much he loves me, will probably not choose to spend time with me over his friends when he is 13 or 14 years old. He'll want to play ball and video games, go to the movies with his friends, or whatever else is popular then; as it should be. Then what? If I haven't nurtured myself and my life along the way, my growing "insignificance" will be excruciating. I don't want that for myself. So, I continue to nurture my friendships to the extent allowed by my time and abilities, I continue to work at my career as a freelance writer, I further my spiritual studies and practices, and I try to find new ways to add value and meaning to my life. Sometimes, to be quite frank, it feels like BS - like I'm only doing it precisely to ensure that I am not a sad sap of a mom whose sole focus in life is to dote on her child. And maybe that is true. But I was ME for 34 years before my son was born, and I will continue to be ME once my son is gone from my home and off living his own life. That person, that ME, deserves to be acknowledged and nurtured almost as much as my son does.
So, with that said, I will take this time to give to myself. To ensure that I am a whole person. Ironically, I think this too will make me a better mother for my son. I, as his primary role model for being a healthy adult, will show him that to be whole, I must be well-rounded. It is one of the things I want most for my child, and for myself.
I love you, Pun'kin. I love you so greatly, I'm going to try not to think about you so much for the next few days, I'm going to live as if all I have are my own whims and self-indulgences, and I am going to recharge my battery and renew my connection to selfish pleasure - so that when you come back to Mommy's arms, they will be arms lightened by release; all the better to carry the wondrous, joyful and blessed weight of Motherhood.