Last month I was exhausted. I was overwhelmed by life. Just too much going on at once. I was impatient, the kids were wearing me out easily it seemed. I barely felt like I had any time for myself. I was set to run a race with a friend and yet I had not run at home in weeks. Weeks! I was frustrated, disappointed, and honestly angry that I could not find time for ME to prepare for a race that I was looking forward to.
So on the morning of the race, when it was pouring outside more than I'd seen in a very long time, like torrential downpour type huge rain... I wasn't sure if I was going to do this thing.
I decided I'd drive up and at least get the T-shirt and other accessories I'd paid for, because that's what a responsible adult does right?
When I got there, I decided, "I can do this, sure, no problem." I was desperate for some time to myself, honestly. How sad is that? I was ready to run a 5k race in the pouring freezing cold soak you to your underwear and socks rain just to have alone time. Crazy talk.
I wanted me time. Where I could just think and focus and not be distracted by others needing something from me.
I wanted to be outside alone doing something I love instead of a choice others made for me.
I wanted to do something powerful, inspiring, invigorating, energizing, instead of exhausting and wearing on my patience level for the thousandth time that day.
I wanted to be selfish for a second or an hour. Is that so bad or wrong?
Many moms think it is. That is sad to me. We ALL need time to ourselves, to develop hobbies and passions that we love, to have fun, laugh, and even cry and vent our frustrations out.
We can't be good at what we do - motherhood, parenting, friendship, partnership, working, etc. - if we don't first take care of what WE need. I'm a firm believer in this philosophy of self-care.
So I did. I took a morning to myself in the pouring rain and made the best of it.
I had a cute running outfit on. I pretended it wasn't that cold out. I texted a friend who gave me tons of encouragement. I took a Mommy Time Out.
This is what the #momMEchallenge I developed on Instagram is all about. Doing your own thing. Because you deserve it and are worth some time alone. You can be a BETTER mother if you take time for YOU.
I was not physically ready to run this race. I was nervous I'd pull a muscle or something. I was worried I'd end up walking most of it. But instead of dwelling on the time I didn't put into myself before the race, I kept an I can do this attitude with an I can do anything mentality.
I pushed through it. I pushed those mom limits, of feeling like I wasn't ready, I had not put enough time in beforehand to prepare, I didn't have what it took to do this bigger thing. Well, don't we moms surprise ourselves time and again with how S-T-R-O-N-G we really are?!
And I ran 95% of that race. In the pouring rain. Surrounded by the happiest people in the world.
It was perfect.
Here's the thing, moms... I get the Mama Guilt many face. I get how down you can feel if you're away from your kids for like an hour to do grocery errands. I get that. For many of us, those babies came from within our bodies. Of course we're attached at the hips. Literally.
But it doesn't make you a bad mom for wanting, needing, time away, a break.
It doesn't make you a bad mother if you lose your cool, have zero patience for days on end, snap and say "I can't take this anymore." It doesn't mean you don't love your kids. It means you are only so strong, and we all have a breaking point. It means you need help, and part of that help is to take a BREAK.
Breaks don't have to be full days at the spa (though that would be lovely in my opinion!). They can be a half hour run in the morning before kids are up or when they are zoning out watching TV or playing with trucks on the carpet. It can be a girls' dinner out at night when the kids are sleeping or having fun with their Dad outside and you'd already spent all day with them so you aren't missing much.
It's OK and necessary to put yourself first frequently. Not just sometimes, not once a month, but frequently. Do what you need to do to get through the ups and downs of motherhood. It'll make you a stronger mother if you take time to breathe, relax, rejuvenate, I promise.
Last weekend I had another moment where I was just done, needing a break. I was tired of the whining and kids not listening. I was at my wits end and just needed space for an hour. I love my kids, but this parenting thing is HARD some days. And I'm completely OK admitting that since it's real and I love being a real mom sharing my experience.
So the second my husband returned from a weekend trip away, I kissed the kids goodnight early and said "I'm OUT." My husband knows when I need that break and is so supportive (I returned home later to a completely clean house - dishes done, laundry started and some put away, etc!).
I set out to go grocery shopping, leisurely walking through the aisles, taking as long as I wanted, crossing everything off the list, I imagined. (Why this is our fantasy daydream as a mother, that's beyond me! Crazy!). First though I decided to stop in at TJ Maxx and get some frames for a new picture project I started at the house. I never have time to "run in" to a store like that. It's too much work with kids, so this was first on the list of relaxation. I looooove that store. I find way too many cute things, including a new bag for work I HAD to have!
I then stopped into Target for a planner. I love finding a new planner for work, and this is a 45-minute process for me to figure out which one I want... so that took some time, and I LOVED every second of being in there alone.
I then took myself to dinner SOLO. Love it. If you've never done this, you must try it soon. Just like attending a movie by yourself. So invigorating. I went to Panera and ate slowly. So much fun. Of course I texted my sister pictures of my food about three times just to brag and make her jealous.
I then ended up at the grocery store... only to be told it closed at 7 p.m. on Sundays... I felt like it was the universe sending me a sign that see... you weren't meant to spend time on others tonight getting groceries, you were supposed to put YOU first! Love that. I ended up heading to another grocery store so it worked out that I was on my own but also crossed something off the list.
I returned home happier, more patient, and less overwhelmed. I filled up whatever bucket is inside me that needs filling when I'm in those difficult parenting moments.
It's OK and necessary to put YOU first. Do it.
Remember to tag #momMEchallenge if you do! I want to cheer you on as you find time for yourself this summer. So important!