Our friends offered us their cabin for a few days, but my partner had to stay in the city for work so I planned to go with my daughter. However, when she found out it would just be the two of us — because none of our friends could go — she said she’d rather stay home. I didn’t take it personally. I understand that hanging out with your mom isn’t as fun as hanging out with your friends.
I told my partner we weren’t going to go, but she suggested I go by myself. There was no reason not to — the cabin was available, we had no obligations, and our daughter could stay home with my partner — but I still said I was going to stay home. Why? Because I felt guilty taking three days for myself.
This summer has been good, but it’s hard for me to work with the kids around. I’ve also reached a saturation point with social media, an occupational hazard for bloggers. I couldn’t stop thinking about the cabin and imagining the silence — no voices, just the sounds of the water, trees and birds — and the more I thought of it, the more I craved it. I wanted to get away but couldn’t admit it.
I explained my dilemma to a friend who told me to go, but I told her I didn’t think I could because I felt selfish. I hope you all have friends like mine who want good things for you and challenge you. She told me flat-out that I needed to change my vocabulary and there was nothing selfish about taking time to recharge. As soon as she said that, I knew she was right. I would give that same advice to a friend.
Most mothers I know have a difficult time putting themselves first and, yes — I do believe it is a bigger problem for mothers. Maybe it’s because women are socialized to be selfless or maybe it’s because there are so many cultural expectations of mothers, including the idea that our lives should revolve around our children. As a good feminist, I should know better than that. But clearly I don’t when it comes to myself.
The truth is, we are better mothers when we take care of ourselves.
So I told my partner I was going to go. We planned two sets of meals — one for me while at the cabin and another set for her and our daughter. She went grocery shopping and I started putting some work things in order before leaving the Wi-Fi behind me.
Then, our friends called and said their daughter wanted to go with me. Once my daughter heard that she was in, too.
And that’s how my three days alone turned into three days with two pre-teen girls.
I swam with the kids and went out on the boat and played poker for M&M’s and watched a lot of movies curled up on the couch with the girls while the rain came and stayed.
But I also had some of those quiet moments I desperately needed. One morning, I sat on the dock with a cup of coffee and listened to the loons call. I could breathe in a way that I haven’t in awhile. The smell of the trees and the lake and even the hot coffee in my hand somehow felt richer than usual. One night, before the rain came, I sat on the deck with a glass of wine and listened to the wind moving through the leaves of the trees overhead. I sat perfectly still, without my phone, and heard the distinctive hum of a hummingbird’s wings as it hovered nearby.
The time at the cabin didn’t turn out quite how I had imagined, but I felt restored nonetheless. Maybe next time I have the chance, I’ll go alone because I deserve time to myself, because we all need quiet — even mothers.
PHOTO CREDIT: VIKKI REICH