Ripping Off the Band-Aid

It’s been a long while since I’ve blogged here. Just check the updated photo for proof ^. I consider this one of my “fun projects,” and I haven’t had much time for those lately. One thing I’m intentionally trying to do these days (and what this post is mainly about) is making time for things that make me feel like me. Writing about motherhood is one of those things, so here I am. Please forgive my absence.

I’ve mentioned mom-guilt before. If you are a mother, or even a father, you are probably no stranger. My subconscious is a broken record–Where’s the baby? Is he okay? What’s in his mouth? Am I spending enough time with him? Am I spending too much time with him? This doesn’t leave much room for thoughts about much else.

Up until recently, because of these deafening thoughts that I’m certain are equal parts instinct and insanity, I had not taken much time for me. That might sound selfish, but if you’ve lived to tell about the first year of a child’s life, you know that to say it is a full-time job is the understatement of the year. In the first 8 months of my little guy’s life, he had two sleepovers. Two nights out of a couple hundred, he stayed away from me. And it wasn’t for lack of help. My husband is Super-Dad, and always willing to take over for me. Not to mention, his grandparents jump at any opportunity to spend time with him, and I am so thankful for that. I just wasn’t ready to send him out into the world, to let my defenses down and trust someone else with his care–a job I take so much pride in.

In early summer, my friends started planning for a girls’ trip to the beach in July. I hesitated, but eventually decided to go. I thought it was a good way for me to put an expiration date on my stinginess, a set appointment for me to rip off the bandaid.

On the Wednesday night before we left, I had a good cry while getting Ellis to sleep. I was nervous and anxious. If I hadn’t already paid my part, I probably would have backed out. Because I felt like he needed me.

Long story short, I went on the trip. I ripped off the band-aid. And my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. When I arrived home, E was healthy, happy and overjoyed to see I had returned. After a quick two-night break, I felt refreshed and more like myself than I had felt since before E was born. For two days, I had been just Carmen and not Mama.

Many mothers wait years before letting their children stay away from home, and if that’s your prerogative, I fully support you. Don’t ever feel less-than for listening to your gut. Becoming a mother is a personal journey and no one can tell you how to do it. If you’re not ready (I’ve been there), don’t do it. Stay home, but find time for yourself in some small way, even if it’s a long bath during nap time (the toys in the floor will wait) or a shared pint of ice cream after bed time routines. You deserve it.

However, if you, like me, could use a small break to recharge your batteries, and you have willing help, I encourage you to go for it. I’m a better mother when I give myself time and space to do things I enjoy and to be with my friends. I am a better mother when I can stay out late once in a while and dance and be young. I am a better mother when I trust the people who love Ellis almost as much as I do. I am a better mother when I have time to be a wife. I am a better mother when leaving reminds me just how much I love being “Mama.”

That anxiety you carry about your babe’s wellbeing? That means you’re doing a good job. You care. You’re his/her protector. You give so much of who you are. Reward yourself with a good nights’ sleep, an uninterrupted meal, a weekend getaway or a bottle of wine. All the veteran mamas will high-five you.

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