For the past week or so, I have been having a bit of a crisis. Sam has been exceptionally needy and not really let me get a moment to myself. This coupled with an obscene amount of work that I can't touch and my achilles injury has had me feeling a bit on edge (read: ready to chuck myself off the Tobin).
So, yesterday, I cleared my schedule, sent R to the Children's Museum and the grocer's armed with an extensive list and sat down on the couch with a pile of work and a fabulous book (Case Histories by Kate Atkinson). I forced myself to tackle the work first and once I was halfway through it, I took a break for reading. I read. And read. And read. I read the entire book in one sitting (four hours straight) and it was luscious, delicious and oh-so-very-needed.
A part of me was screaming that I ought to use the time to be productive, but the less practical side of me--the side that had been pouting all last week--was thrilled. Turns out the one thing I needed was one day (or four hours) back in my old life, when reading a book was the only thing on a day's agenda.
Even though I missed the kid, I forced myself to ignore the guilt. And I was right to do so. Why? Because today I feel much, much better. I feel refreshed. I feel like a human. Yes, I had to stay up until 1 a.m. getting work done last night, but I feel like I did something good for myself, something I have been needing to do for a while.
It occurred to me last week that I have been so wrapped up in motherhood, loving it so much, that it has been easy to ignore the part of me that has not been totally happy. But I think moms do themselves--and their kids--a huge disservice when we focus only on the happy parts of being a mom because, like with everything else, there is lightness and darkness in this job.
I love Sam more than anything before her, but I did have a life before her, a life I liked a lot. And contrary to what many mother say, I do remember what that life was like. I remember being able to blow everything off to read all day. I remember going to a movie at the last minute, getting a late night drink and working out on my own schedule entirely. And while I would not trade Sam for my old life, I sometimes wish I could have just a week back there. A week where I was only responsible for me, me, me.
There are so many changes when we become moms. I knew these things would happen. And I always said I would be the kind of mom who retained her old self, who worked out a lot, talked to her friends and managed to talk about something other than the merits of the Bumbo. I never expected to be caught in a Catch-22 cycle of guilt. If I am with her, I feel resentful. If I am away, I feel guilty. I never realized in my haste to be disdainful, that part of the "Martyr Mom" syndrome came from that place. It is awfully hard to do something nice for yourself when it makes you feel like selfish, bad mommy to do it.
Despite the guilt, despite the worry that something might happen to my child if she is out of my sight for two seconds (even if she is with her father), I am going to start taking more time for myself--time that is not spent at the gym. I need it for myself, for R and, most of all, for Sam.