Monday Musings on Motherhood

I use alliteration too much. I can’t stop though. My maiden name was Shipley. Sarah Shipley. I loved my alliterated name. My son’s name starts with an H and I would have given my daughter an H name if husband would have let me. Anyway, Monday Musings on Motherhood. Here we go…

I was well into my thirties when I realized that being an introvert or extrovert is defined by how you “re-charge.” I never considered myself an introvert. I have friends. I’m considered a social person. I like going out and trying new things and meeting new people. I plan happy hours. Introverts don’t plan happy hours, do they? But all of those activities drain me in a way. To recharge I like to be alone. I like to read. I like to put on music and day dream. I like to sit at a computer and type. Alone. Enter two tiny humans who I am responsible for and uninterrupted alone time is hard to come by.

Uninterrupted alone wasn’t always hard to come by. When I just had H, who was the easiest baby on the planet, he would nap. It would be quiet. I would get a little recharge and then we’d have a great afternoon together. I was pretty smug about motherhood then. I was all of sixteen months in and I couldn’t figure out why people would say being a mom was hard. I was pretty proud of myself that I had it all figured out when others were struggling so much.

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Back when I thought I had it all figured out.

Pride cometh before the fall, right? Then I had L. And I fell. Hard. Poor girl was not an easy baby. She had terrible reflux from the start. She would scream. For a really long time. I couldn’t calm her or comfort her. We joke that we have PTSD from those first few months with her, but I’m not entirely sure that is a joke. The kids weren’t on the same nap schedule so one child was always up needing me in some way. H was only 2 1/2 so his needs were still pretty high. There was a period of three months when they napped at the same time and I gained some semblance of sanity back, but then H decided to give up his nap entirely. Uninterrupted alone time was non-existent. A year into having two children and I was strung out and exhausted. I got it. Motherhood wasn’t always easy. I recognize this is not a unique story. A lot of moms I talk to feel like this. The part I get hung up on is that we just accept this is how it is. Don’t misunderstand me. Motherhood in and of itself is self-sacrificing. Daily. Their needs come before mine. However, in order to fulfill their needs I have to be in a place where I have something to give.

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This photo makes me laugh. We had no idea what the next few months would hold!

Now that they are both in school, there is time for me to be alone and get a little recharge. But then… summer hits. By the end of the summer I feel like I did when L was six months and H was three – drained. I have little patience. I get snappy with them. I sigh a lot. I don’t enjoy them like I should and that makes me feel guilty. Even if someone watches them so I can go have lunch with friends… I’m still with people. It’s hard to ask someone to watch your kids so you can basically go do nothing. Then I had an idea… what if I asked someone to watch my kids while I basically left and did nothing? What if once a year, at the end of the summer I went away, by myself, for an entire weekend? No girlfriends. No expectations of me to get anything accomplished. Just go have a weekend alone. I talked to J and he agreed. So last year I did it for the first time. I left my house on a Friday, went to my parents’ lakehouse, and came back on Sunday. I slept in. Started the Hamilton biography. Watched Bad Boys 2 (it’s in my top 3 of all time favorite movies). When I came home I felt like I had been on a week-long vacation. It was awesome.

This past weekend I did it again. I wrote blog posts. Read my book. Watched 3/4 of the Netflix original “The Week Of” (don’t bother… it’s awful!). And by Sunday at lunch time, I was ready to go home and love on my babies. I feel full. Grateful for my kids and their unique, wonderful personalities. Grateful I have a husband who is willing to watch them all weekend. Grateful I finally had the confidence to ask for what I needed. This one weekend away makes me a better mom.

My point is… don’t feel ashamed to ask for what you need. Don’t believe the lie that you aren’t supposed to take care of yourself while you also take care of your children. I felt ashamed for a long time that I wanted time away. I’m sure there are some people who roll their eyes and think “You need a whole weekend away once a year?” My answer is “Yeah, I do. It puts me in a position to be the kind of mother I want to be and isn’t that a good thing?”

Here are Lucy and me having fun at dinner! Excited to be home!

What’s the one thing you need or do for yourself so you can be in the position to be the kind of mother/father/friend you want to be? And have you asked for it lately?

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