Do you remember the first time you found out you were pregnant? You probably experienced all sorts of emotions ranging from joy to fright. But then you had 40 weeks to adjust. Although some of those 40 weeks were probably laced with nausea, back pain and all other discomforts that accompany pregnancy, you were still in a peaceful environment, living a quiet life with your partner. Then the labor pains began (or in my case, the c-section was scheduled) and somehow you knew your life was about to change. But you didn't exactly know how yet.
When your baby is finally brought to you after delivery, you go through a whole range of emotions again. But this time it's different because you actually have to take care of your newborn. Reality hits when you go home from the hospital (or even before, if you had a home birth). The demands of a newborn can be overwhelming, especially for first-time moms.
What struck me after I had my first child was that being a mom is the hardest thing I ever did. You are on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No exceptions. My three year old recently woke me in the middle of the night, crying. When I went to her, she cried "Mommy, there's a booger stuck to my finger". I looked at the clock...it was 3:30 am. I felt angry. I didn't know how to react. Why am I up at this time again for a booger? When is this going to end? It doesn't end. You're a mom for life.
As I adjusted to my new life, I realized that there are things that I can do to help ease some of my frustrations, not to mention get a good night's sleep. I'm thankful that I have a wonderful, supportive husband who understands the importance of taking a break once in a while. He hangs out with his buddies four to five times per year for a weekend and I take mini vacations with my friends.
After I left my kids for the first time to attend my best friend's fortieth birthday getaway, I rediscovered the person I used to be. The carefree woman who didn't worry about whether she packed enough snacks for the kids or if the baby was finally going to sleep through the night. And with me was a group of women who all felt the same way. We laughed, drank wine, slept in, got spa treatments and relaxed. We all walked away feeling like we needed this. I came home from this weekend feeling refreshed, more patient and a better mom. If you have never taken a break from your kids before, you might want to try it. It doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. Just check in to a local hotel with some of your girlfriends, go shopping, go to a museum. In other words, do what you want to do. Most of all, spend time with yourself, the self you used to be. You deserve it! You may think you can't afford it. Or your partner may not want you to go. Whatever the reason, you have the power to make it work.
I love my children and all the joy they bring me. The other night, as I kissed my daughter and told her that the booger patrol made the booger go away, I thought about how my life has changed forever. However, when I take a mini vacation without them, I can remember the person I used to be. That person is still there. I just need to go to a place where I can find myself again, a place where my children are in my thoughts, but not in my presence!