I am selfish mommy, and I couldn’t be happier about it. I recently accepted a position at a new company and I left my former job on Friday. But instead of starting the new position right away, I decided to take a three-day “mommy vacation”. While some moms might take time off to spend with their kiddos, I take time off to spend it with myself. I still drop the kids off at their daycare/babysitter at the regular time, and purposefully don’t come back until their usual afternoon pickup time. And what have I been doing these last few days? I cleaned my basement one morning (it felt fantastic). I brought a ton of stuff to Goodwill (de-cluttering makes me positively giddy). I got my oil changed (I really know how to live it up). I watched bad daytime reality TV while eating chunks of ciabatta bread and cheese (best lunch ever). Not once did I feel guilty about it. And I didn’t once wish that my kids were home with me (Are you kidding? It is so QUIET in here!).
It goes without saying that I love my kids to death. But I also really, really love myself (how could I not?!). And I know when I need some time for me. Taking time for myself makes me a happier person, as well as a better wife, friend, and mom. I think that there are too many moms out there who forget that. So if you’re one of them, call in sick tomorrow, but don’t tell the kids. Then, go out and do something for yourself. Or if you’re like me, stay at home in your PJs and read a trashy magazine. I promise I won’t tell.
This momfession was inspired by a note that my dear friend Jess sent me a while ago, when I started this blog. She wrote about how sometimes, she takes her daughter to the donut shop and joyfully treats her to an unhealthy snack or two, because she gets tired of being responsible (while grandparents and the like get to be the “fun” ones). I completely agree, and this weekend, I basically threw responsible mommy out the window.
We’ve been going through some rough patches lately, with our son’s behaviour becoming more volatile at school, and our daughter going through various phases of two-year-old psychosis (lately, she just screams, at the top of her lungs…for NO REASON). So, I decided we needed some fun. I booked a hotel room and bought some tickets to an indoor water park and we surprised the kids with a one night vacation. And I made a promise to myself that, while we were there, all rules would go out the window. On our way to the hotel, we decided to stop for lunch. Fast food for lunch? Of course children…please, have some more french fries and ice cream. When we got to the hotel, our room wasn’t ready yet. Sure kids…you can definitely pound away your sugar high on that baby grand in the lobby…knock your socks off! When it was time for dinner, I practically forced my son to order a slushie AND dessert. It was an amazing feeling…saying YES felt fantastic. I was FUN mommy…I was “the best mommy ever”…this was “the best vacation ever”! I hit the mommy grand slam and I was basking in its glory. I liked this mommy…no fighting, no sad-puppy-dog-faces…just lots of hugs and slushie kisses.
The next morning we had breakfast in the hotel. It was a buffet and, after my son had already refilled his plate three times, I stopped him as he went to fill yet another plate with bacon. He looked at me and scowled. I was back to being responsible mommy again, just like that. Fun, irresponsible mommy was gone and boring old mommy who makes you eat your veggies was back again. I was kind of sad to see fun mommy go…she was a cool chick. But she was also my worst nightmare. Not only did she force-feed my kids sugar for a day, but she left responsible mommy to deal with the aftermath: a pair of overtired, overstimulated, hyperglycemic kids. Good thing fun mommy doesn’t show her face too often…
The other day, I was doing my typical 45-minute-through-Toronto-traffic commute home when a Nirvana song came on the radio. All of a sudden, I was whisked back to my high school days, and before I knew it, I was almost at K’s daycare. I stopped at a red light and suddenly a wave of panic came over me. “How did I get here?”, I thought. But here’s the kicker: I wasn’t worried about the fact that I had mindlessly driven through traffic without paying attention. The thing that scared me was something so much more frightening that it actually took my breath away. How on earth did I become a 30-something mom, wife, professional, homeowner, responsible woman when in reality, I was still this awkward, funny yet slightly nerdy teenager inside? How is it that I remember those days like it was yesterday, and I don’t feel much older or different now than I did more than 15 years ago? How did I get myself in this situation, where I worry about things like bedwetting and behaviour issues, rather than who would be my next crush or what CD to buy with my next allowance? I thought about how much easier my life was back then, with no responsibilities, no cares in the world, and a wicked metabolism. I became really, really jealous of my 15-year-old self. I wanted to be her again…even just for a day. To have no kids, no house, no job…just friends and teenage crushes.
The next morning, as I was wrestling a screaming Kailyn into her car seat, I heard a loud bang. As I looked up (and noticed that K had mashed muffin crumbs into my sweater during the struggle), I saw the teenage girl who lives across the street storm out of her house. A moment later, her mother came out, yelling and waving the girl’s lunch bag in her hand. The girl stopped on the sidewalk, turned around and screamed, “I don’t want my lunch, Mom! I hate you!!”. It was right then that I decided I was pretty OK with being me. While 15-year-old Colleen didn’t have all of the responsibilities that I have, it wasn’t easy then either. The social anxiety, the raging hormones, the desire to be independent without the means to do so…that was pretty rough, too. So, right there in my driveway, I made peace with adult Colleen, and promised myself to try and enjoy every moment, since life really does go so fast. And then I whispered to Kailyn, “you’d better never do that to mommy”. To which she very seriously replied, “OK Mommy” and then kissed me. Yeah, it isn’t so bad being me after all.
I have never been the most graceful person. When I was six, I fell off of my bed and broke my arm. When I was 10, I walked into the corner of a locker after my swimming lesson, producing a giant gash and subsequent scar over my eyebrow. When I was about 12, I stapled my thumb. I have about a million ridiculous stories that I could tell you, while pointing out the odd scars that these incidents left behind over the years. As I grew older, my klutziness followed along nicely. At work, I stub my toes on file cabinets. At home, I burn and/or cut myself while making my family dinner at least once a week. I have become used to it all, and my husband just rolls his eyes every time he sees me holding (another) bloody tissue around my finger in the kitchen.
So when I jammed my thumb while getting undressed last week, it was par for the course. I didn’t think anything of it when I came downstairs to tell my husband that I was in severe pain from taking my pants off (in my defense, I was trying to get ready for a child-free dinner out and I caught my thumb in the belt loop on my jeans while I was hastily getting dressed). That is, until my son came home the next day from school.
G: Mommy, my teacher hurt her thumb just like you!
Me: Oh, really? How do you know?
G: Well, she said she jammed her thumb and it really hurt. So I said, ‘my mommy did the same thing last night while she was taking her pants off!’
Me: Umm..what did she say to that?
G: Nothing. She was just really quiet after that.
I guess I need to remember that, although some conversations may seem perfectly normal within in the confines of our house, they don’t sound quite the same when retold by a six-year-old to his teacher the next day. Something tells me I should start keeping my incontinence stories to myself too. The last thing I need is for my son to be telling his class that “mommy peed in her pants last night when she sneezed.” Now THAT would be embarrassing.