Friday, August 27, 2010

A Mother's Day Off

This week my very thoughtful in-laws offered to keep the children for a night and a day to give me some personal time.

"Personal time?" you say. "What is this thing you call Personal Time?"

I know. I know.

My father-in-law even traded cars with us, deigning to drive my minivan full of kids and leaving us with his two-seater for the night. We went out for dinner (thanks Groupon!) and a joyride along some of Austin's more serpentine roads. Whee!

The next day, I spent some time working on my to-do list, including such thrills as getting the van's way-overdue inspection done and dropping off stuff at Goodwill while my little hoarder(s) couldn't say, "Wait! But we NEED that!" Also, some attempts at planning for the semester.

Then I picked up my friend Margo from her office for a late lunch and we had an hour of uninterrupted adult conversation in the middle of the day. I know. I know.

Then -- are you ready for this? -- I actually went to Barton Springs, by myself, and read A Tale of Two Cities on my blanket in between refreshing dips. I think I actually dozed off for a few minutes, too. It's hard to communicate just how decadent this all felt. But I think you understand.

Meanwhile, my mother-in-law was holding the fort at her house, including a tea party once the cousins got home from school. And when we went to collect the kids that evening, she had nothing but good things to say about the time. Not a single comment that might compromise the joy of my mini-retreat. Bless her.

I'm not sharing this to make anyone jealous, because believe me, I know how alluring a solid block of Personal Time sounds. But upon reflection, a few things occurred to me.

1. Every mother needs some silent time. Time to reflect, to pray, to accomplish things if she chooses, to quiet her thoughts, to slow down, to have some fun outside the beaten path of her routine, to remember that she is a person apart from her kids.

2. This is not easy to come by. Sometimes we have to ask for it. Is there someone in your life you could ask, assuming hours of professional babysitting isn't in your budget? Could you arrange with your husband for a weekend off? Could you trade a day off with a friend? We all tend to moan about the lack of margin in our lives. Doing something about it often requires some creative thinking.

3. When I grow up, I want to do this for younger moms. For my kids and their spouses, if they live nearby. For moms of young children who love them to pieces but crave some respite now and then. Feel free to remind me of this resolution in twenty or thirty years, okay?

4. Meanwhile, we can look for little ways to lighten the load for each other. What can you do to grace another parent's life this week?


cjoy said...

Well, if you came HERE I could trade with you.... ;D This reminds me of my weekend trip to New York with a friend a few years ago. For ME.

Really, I feel this deeply....even two hours to myself recently felt decadent...for a DOCTOR'S visit. I sat in a waiting room not telling a single child to share, stop opening the bathroom door, be quieter, or be nicer. I laid my head back and thought about dozing rather than starting a new book while I waited. The receptionist and doctor both know us well and were commenting on how vastly different this experience was for me - haha!

So happy for you that you had some time to decompress. May you feel refreshed for days to come.

Hamish'sMom said...

I remember the time when "time alone" felt luxurious. How blessed you are to have relatives so close to you. "W/husband w/o kids" time is REALLY important because that's the relationship that you're going to have after the kids are grown. Great grace to you and to all the young mothers who visit "A Quiet Spot" from Jesus Christ our lovely Lord.

JoAnn said...

Dear Hannah, reading your blog about your "day off" was a blessing to me, and made it worth all the effort. Please don't be shy about asking for another one, next time. I know that I won't always have opportunities like this, if you move away, so take advantage of my willing heart, while I still have the energy to do it.

Vanessa said...

Sounds wonderful! I just read your MIL's comment, so you MUST take her up on it again.

Stephanie said...

I cried when I read this. Especially reading it on the heels of a week where I saw my own meager personal time shrink to absolutely nothing with no prospect of its reemergence. Even the scant alone time I had previously, driving alone in my car to work (which can hardly be considered quality personal time), has been stripped away.

I'm sure that's all TMI. I will try to get creative.

KTG said...

My mom came for two hours Saturday to sit while husband and I moved furniture. Then I took a relaxing shower and we grabbed a bite at Panera.Delightful, luxurious (for a mom in the midst of 3am feedings and hair loss) this was a huge gift to me.

Julie said...

I'm one of those moms with younger children who "I love to pieces"...but yes am drooling over some personal time..still I feel a little guilty about that need...we do get a dear friend to babysit once every two or three months..but a little more would be really nice..just to recharge..very wonderful mother in law you have there! Every mom deserves down time so I agree with Vanessa...absolutely take the offer to do it again!