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?