Becoming a mom was the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Yes, that’s a total cliché, but only because it’s true for so many people. Motherhood has amplified my better qualities and helped keep some of my less desirable qualities in check, and my day-to-day life as a mom of two toddlers is—more often than not—joyful, hilarious and fulfilling. (At the very least, it’s never boring!)
That being said, we moms are doing ourselves a real disservice if we totally lose sight of who we were before entering the world of motherhood. I urge every mom out there to take the occasional break to rediscover her pre-mom self.
What I’m proposing isn’t the same as taking an hour to go to the gym or get a manicure, or even taking an overnight getaway with your spouse. I’m not talking about “me time” away from the daily mommy routine; I’m talking about time spent in a place, or surrounded by people, or doing something that taps into the core of who you are as a person, separate from any demands or expectations associated with motherhood.
It took me until my oldest child was nearly 3 ½ to realize I needed something like this. Recently, my husband announced plans for a guys’ ski trip, and all three local grandparents offered me their assistance with our two kids in his absence. A light bulb went off in my head: This could be the perfect opportunity for a trip of my own, to see 10 of my best girlfriends from high school and college who all live in or around New York City. The grandparents were only too happy to usher me out the door and enjoy some time with the kids free from my tiresome reminders about naps and not eating Frisbee-size cookies for breakfast.
So, off I went for three and a half days in NYC. Of course, I thought about my kids often, checked in regularly by phone or text, and practically squeezed the life out of them with my hugs when I returned home.
But the trip was revitalizing in a way I never even knew I needed. I was completely in charge of my time every day, and I used it to do the kinds of activities I loved doing when I lived in Manhattan in my early 20s: spending focused, quality time with friends, seeing a Broadway show, taking a late-night hot yoga class, and walking countless blocks just soaking up the city.
I’m never not a mom, and thank god for that. But the trip was a reminder that being a mom doesn’t have to be front and center 24/7, and there are many other people and things in my life that make me a whole, happy person. It doesn’t take a trip across the country to achieve that sort of realization or feeling of completeness. But it does take a conscious effort to carve out that time for yourself and seek out the setting, company or activity that helps you get back to pre-mom you.
I hope you’ll commit to giving that gift to yourself, at least once in a while.