Thanks, Nonie, for blogging about parenting and personal time in your post “Time to Just Be“. Anna and I have been talking about riffing off of one another’s posts to get back to the essence of how parenting in place is different and yet so all-the-same regardless of where you are in the world. In the spirit of this, I am finishing this long forgotten post…
A couple of months ago, my husband and I had an all-day work party to attend. Usually our children would go into a full day of childcare led by a well-meaning neighbor, but this particular weekend we opted for something new – an overnight stay with the kids’ grandparents. There was apprehension and panic over rattling the norm, but good ol’ Mom here sucked up her tears and let her merry little ones climb out of our family car and jump into Grandma’s arms. This is where the process of letting go starts getting concrete for me.
This was officially the first night in almost five years that I’d been without a child. I am proud for making such a strong commitment to my children, but it has been one long slog. I have put music shows and evening dates behind me, and have passed on attending out-of-town weddings and reunions because it would be too hard to manage with a nursing child. On most days, I am happy to have made these sacrifices. I see how being present in my children’s lives has resulted in them being affectionate and secure beings. Yet I’ve also had moments of being supremely frustrated that my pre-motherhood identity has been clobbered by the mothering one.
But on this one childless night, I felt the need to stretch beyond the mold I’d set for myself as a mother. Art opening? Punk show? Cocktails? I would have chosen any of the three on a pre-childbearing night but now I was entertaining the thought of how thoroughly I could clean the house with two free hands.
My husband was going to be out of the house too so I sat down with a glass of wine and let the stress of the day go. I started pulling our tower of audio power apart – untangling the computer apart from the record player and receiver. Modern technology had supplanted the antiquity and charm of our extensive collection of lps, and I couldn’t remember the last time we dusted off a record to play it. I initiated an all-out solo party to set up a vinyl oasis in our loft space.
This was a seemingly insignificant but positive change for our family. My husband and I needed to put work into something that was just for him and me. This music created a space for us to connect outside of being parents together. I often have a hard time carving out space or time for myself, so when I do I like to celebrate it. When I am a happy and contented individual, I am a happy and contented parent.