“Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” ― Maya Angelou
Tomorrow Mia starts 4K and Fynn starts 2nd (how did that happen??). And aside from buying Mia school supplies and taking her to meet and greets, I’ve barely thought about it. After two years of logistics and getting kids in the right spot and then somehow getting to work, I’m just looking forward to some kind of normal.
The truth is that over the course of almost five years, I’ve gone from being completely petrified to confident that Mia is going to be just fine at school. A lot of that has to do with the many amazing therapists and teachers who have been her guides and cheerleaders for her entire life. She’ll be amazing, I know it.
But you guys, I’m tired. Like I’ve reached a profound tiredness where one day bleeds into the other. Mia’s very kind daycare teacher, on Mia’s last day, told me how impressed she was at how I’m always positive and upbeat. It was a very sweet compliment, but my internal, snarky-self thought, “It’s the years of acting. I’m very good at pretending.”
And I am positive and I do believe everything is going to be fine and I love my kids and I love my job and I’m excited about things in life, but I’m exhausted. Do you remember in college, when the end of the semester hit and you went home for summer break and you slept for a week straight? That feeling. But instead of sleeping, imagine starting another semester the next day.
Part of me blames it on grieving, and those of you have grieved for a long time will know exactly what I’m talking about. First I grieved Mia’s diagnosis and then that grief just bled into grieving my marriage, and this feeling is what happens at the end.
And then part of it is just being a parent. I don’t think many parents don’t know this feeling. The feeling of just needing a nap…or several.
And of course there’s the guilt piled up on top of knowing deep down you need a very long break from your children. Of people needing from you. I think mothers specifically feel like their identities disappear in motherhood to other people’s needs.
This year I bought a subscription to the theater. Part of it was because I miss the theater. I love working for the orchestra, but my heart is in a theater. In plays and (sometimes) musicals. Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller and Henrik Ibsen and Tom Stoppard are just my people, and I miss it. But another part is that for 2-3 hours a few times a year, I’m going to sit by myself in a theater without anyone needing anything from me. I bought one subscription. One ticket. One seat.
Sometimes I think it’s hard for moms to admit they need it. They need time where they can do something completely for themselves. Maybe we’ve conditioned people to believe that if they don’t give every part of themselves to their children or to their work or significant other, then they are somehow selfish and horrible people. But over the past two years especially, I’ve realized that moms, myself included, have got to cut ourselves some slack. Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest are telling everyone to be perfect, but sometimes leave the stuff on the floor and the dishes in the sink and go to bed. Go read a book or watch a movie that doesn’t include a cartoon character. But to do something that does not have anything to do with another person, just themselves. To remember that person that is you separate from other people.
And maybe I’m writing this for me as much as for any other moms out there who feel the same way. I hope your Labor Day includes a little break for you too. And if it doesn’t, the kids go back to school tomorrow. And if you’re the mother of an infant or toddler, don’t clean up the house during nap time. You have my permission to eat ice cream and watch bad television or do whatever else makes you happy.