Today was a momentous day. Not the type of momentous occasion like a birthday, an anniversary, or when a child loses their first tooth—bigger than that. Today I did something for myself as a mom and—I. felt. no. guilt. That’s right. None.
Sure, in my nine years of motherhood, I’ve done nice things for myself. I’ve gotten my nails done in a bold pale pink (so the almost instant chips don’t show up as much). I’ve embarked on the odd girls’ night out to dance and ultimately feel tired by 9 p.m. and long for a cup of tea and my cozy bed. I’ve gotten a massage and panicked all 45 epic minutes thinking that I was missing an urgent call from the school about some heinous illness one of my kids had abruptly come down with.
Point being, whenever I do nice things for myself, they always include an element of my kids. Even when I feel “weightless” because I’m out on a date, dressed up with my husband and gripping just a black leather clutch, with the diaper bag nowhere in sight, that weightlessness comes with its own baggage. It’s indelibly tied with rejoicing in the fact that I’m not carrying changes of clothes, baby wipes, or random trash, aka my kids’ treasures.
So, I still think about the kids. I wonder if they’re going too long without a diaper change. I fixate on whether whoever’s in charge is feeding them the “right” food. Are they napping, behaving, playing, screaming, all to my exact specifications even though I’m not there. I create them in my thoughts. Their absence is present.
But today. Oh, today. Today I went to New York City on my own. Steve, my husband, their dad was in charge. He’s competent, capable, and very much half of the reason that they even exist. So, I let go of my duties and spread my sometimes-clipped-feeling wings.
I didn’t do anything particularly special. I literally just walked around the city, but that’s something I love to do.
And what I love even more is that after nine years of parenting three little kids, I’ve finally learned how to enjoy my “mommy time.” I didn’t really think about my kids or my husband. I just did me.
I sat at a juice café and drank a green concoction and observed every character who walked by on Perry and Hudson St. I weaved in and out of the masses of people clamoring for organic vegetables and artisan jams in Union Square’s farmer’s market. I got lost in Tribeca and then found Laughing Man Coffee where I grabbed a coffee that apparently also helps better the world. I peeked into an intimidating popup shop in SoHo.
Every turn I found more of me.
The further along I travel in this motherhood journey the more I learn how to redefine myself. I learned today that sometimes I can allow myself and be brave enough to even exist without my kids and more importantly without the guilt of existing without my kids. What a freedom.