A few days ago I polled Instagram on what's the thing that's helped you the most in motherhood, and the responses were great. Not one single product was mentioned, but all the non-tangibles and little (big) things. Among them: grandparents, perspective, grace, coffee, alcohol, a good babysitter, friends, self-care, and time away. It took me a long time to realize that last one but after our trip last weekend I am a big believer.
Daniel planned this trip and it was his idea. Last year we attempted a 2 night getaway and Trey was too young, it was too soon, and I wasn't ready. I was kind of expecting the same thing on this trip, but agreed to go anyways. I know it's good for me to get away and I wanted to, it's just also really hard for me to leave Trey.
This trip was night and day from last time. The resort was incredible. A boutique, luxury resort in Scottsdale, Arizona and I think it might be my favorite place we've ever stayed. (Not sponsored at all, just sharing.) The design is mid-century modern and the concept is little bungalows all over a sunny, warm, resort nestled near Old Town Scottsdale with mountain views. We absolutely loved it.
I think the biggest realization for me on the trip was: baby/toddler/kid life is demanding. These years take A LOT of resources - time, energy, money, etc. But they are not forever. In the midst of the day to day craziness that is raising small children you think they will, but this pace of life will someday feel slower. When we retire yes, but also when we're empty nesters, and even when we're at the elementary age, we won't be parenting as intensely as we are during this time of life. It's chaotic and messy and crazy most days, but now that I've taken a step back to notice this, I can more fully fill myself up first. I think I gained the perspective that self-care is a THING. A real thing and a needed thing, and exponentially more so during these all-hands-on-deck years.
It was shocking to me the amount of noise and speed that is raising kids. I don't think it was so much the place (even though it was amazing) but just the time away to chat. To go whatever we wanted, to really pause and relax, to have time. That is the biggest scarcity element I think of my days right now and the kicker for me was that I realized: someday I will have more time.
I am trying to parent out of this new long-term mindset. I am trying to find pockets of rest and relaxation during my days, and right now, I have to be strategic about it. I have to find it/make it/get creative with it/put boundaries around it. I typically run at about 110% percent, like most moms, since we have a lot of roles and responsibilities that we keep spinning each day. But I'm slowly learning to also put myself on that list of importance things. What would fill me up today, what would I like to do? It can be hard as moms because we take care of so many needs that what we'd like often gets pushed so far back that we don't even know what it is that we need or want. Also, I think our culture values productivity and busyness, and when that's ingrained in you it's hard to get off that train. But I'm doing it. I'm getting off the train of de-valuing self-care. I placing myself on my priority list.
I think sometimes as a mom I've thought about things in pretty black and white terms. Can I both (fill in the blank) and be a good mom? Can I take a parents-only trip and love my child? Can I work and still love my child? Can I enjoy time away for a pedicure and still love my child? I think subconsciously I've thought I had to be this mom martyr, dying to myself all the time in the name of loving my child well. And I know now that while I fiercely love my child, I'm actually a better mom when I'm filled up first. It's the oxygen mask strategy. Our needs matter. What we do for ourselves matters. Not just matters, but is vital.
Part of it for me is that I get so much joy out of being with Trey. This is a great thing. But it does make it hard for me to leave him, for trips or even just a night out. I know these years go fast and I don't want to miss it. But I think there is also something to be said for doing them well and being able to do both - I can love my child well, and enjoy time away. Filling me up fills my family up. We take care of so many needs as moms. Let's make sure to also take care of ours.