When you start birthin’ babies, all the books tell you, all your friends tell you, strangers on the street who stop you to ooh and ah at your babies tell you, you may even tell yourself, to find some mommy time. It’s so important to set aside a little piece of your day or your week for yourself.
In the beginning, though, it’s possible that you don’t want mommy time. Maybe you’re in baby love mode, or baby protective mode and you can’t imagine leaving the little ones with anyone — even their grandmother.
It’s also possible you really can’t take mommy time. Maybe you can’t leave the baby with someone for too long because you’re still nursing. Lots of things can make you a willing or unwilling inhabitant of baby land.
But if you’re like me, the day will come when you will finally understand your own mother’s obsession with enjoying “a quiet house.”
You’re suddenly aware that every thought that passes through your mind, before it can even escape as an action or a statement, is interrupted, overlapped, drown out, by your kids.
You start to notice how meals you were excited about while preparing them have disappeared from your plate to your belly without so much as tasting a single bite.
It’s no wonder I put recycling in the dishwasher and try to take out contact lenses I’ve already removed. If I worked in an office, I’d put my phone to voice mail and shut the rest of the world out until I completed a task. But try as I might, I can’t mute my kids.
So in my haze of early parenthood, I somehow managed a coherent thought. Instead of going to class and rushing home, why not stay in town. Enjoy the furlough. In that thought, I have found a way to defrazzle, made possible with a couple of lucky breaks.
Daughter No. 2, as opposed to her big sister at this age, actually lets me out of the house, even missing her bedtime. She is still nursing, but will happily take a bottle of formula just the same. I also have a partner who will handle most of the chaos without calling me home. I have seen first hand that not all parents can take charge when the main caregiver is out of the house. Trust me. I know I am lucky on these two counts.
So, one night a week, I hop on the train into the city. I practice speaking German. Then, when my work is done, I bring my laptop to the coffee shop, attempt to wow the barista with my language skills and sit, for 90 minutes in my little bubble. I write. I read. I think. I stare off into space. I eavesdrop on people’s conversations I don’t understand.
I feel like I’m plugging myself back into life. I’m not needed. Not even on call. OK, maybe a little bit on-call. But it’s an emergencies-only basis. I can let my brain run wild. Somewhere, in those 90 minutes, I manage to put together a idea or two so that even after a full day with the girls, stretching my brain in language class and a late night in the city, I feel refreshed and ready to face another week of truncated thoughts.
This has been a truly wonderful motherhood milestone.