Aside from work, I don't have time away from Sidekick. I don't get alone time. I don't have family in the same state who I can call up and ask for help at the drop of a hat. I don't have someone with whom to juggle all of the responsibilities of having a family. I'm burnt out, and I've been burnt out for a while.
I haven't really taken care of myself in almost four years. I barely run anymore. It's either a quick run before I pick up Sidekick from school, or I bribe him to sit in the BOB and go with me on the weekends, which makes running even harder because I have to push him. I used to be a voracious reader, and it now takes me months and months to get through a book. I used to get pedicures a few times a year (and a manicure every once in a while), and I'm lucky if I get one pedicure a year. I haven't gotten my hair highlighted since before Sidekick was born, and I loved and miss my blonde highlights. I used to walk aimlessly and happily in the park, hike in peace and quiet, or sit on the sofa all day and watch TV. That all ended three years and 11 months ago. But I don't regret not doing any of that. I really don't because Sidekick is truly the best part of my life. And quite frankly, these missing things are not unique to me. Every woman gives up things like that as soon as she becomes a Mom. And every Mom tries to regain her sense of self in the midst of this crazy (and oftentimes chaotic) thing called "life".
As a SMC, I don't have the ability to just up and leave to do anything because apparently it's illegal to leave a child Sidekick's age alone. :) Unless I'm working or am lucky to get that quick one or two mile run in before I pick up Sidekick from school, I don't get a break from the daily grind. I don't have the luxury of putting him to bed at night and going to Target to wander around. I can literally count on one hand the amount of times I've been out in the evening (not counting work related events) without Sidekick since the day he was born (babysitters aren't cheap). This has always been my biggest struggle being a SMC... the loss of my sense of freedom. I wouldn't change it for anything, but I need I find a balance.
So, I'm trying to change things up a bit. The other night I decided that after I took Sidekick to school the next morning, I was going to go running. A real run. A run that challenges me, a run that makes me feel/hear the beat of my heart in my ears (I'm still trying to figure out if that's a good thing), a run that let's me be "one" with nature All. By. Myself. And in a zone where my focus is not on my stressful job or my child but the challenge at hand. In the end, I ran an entire four miles without walking. The last time I ran that far without walking was when I was pregnant with Sidekick (or maybe it was when I ran my last half marathon, which coincidentally was the day before I conceived Sidekick). Actually, I can't remember if I was running four miles when I was pregnant because I was so sick the 16 weeks of my pregnancy and then had to taper running back when I was about 30 weeks because running was harder with a baby on board. Back in the day, I would have brushed off a four mile run as no big deal. Today, I celebrate it.
I didn't enjoy that four mile run very much because it was really hard, but I felt like I accomplished something for me. Not my child. Not my job. Me!
While running, I realized that it'll be okay if I take Sidekick to school earlier in the morning or pick him up later in the afternoon once in a while so that I can give myself a break and breathe. The other day I decided to really commit to reading more often so that I can escape my world and be part of someone else's.
Guess what I just realized? I can sit down on the sofa next to Sidekick and read while he watches his one show a day before bedtime. And on the weekends, it'll be okay to let him watch TV in the morning, while I read my book in bed. Watching TV won't kill him or even his brain cells, and he'll be super happy having extra TV time. It's pretty much a win-win situation.
Sidekick isn't going to love me any less if I make these little changes. In fact, I think he may love me even more because once in a while I'm going to try to take care of myself and when I do, that'll make his Momma a little happier.
I realize every Mom feels this way at one time or another, not just the single Moms, which is why I felt like sharing my epiphany:
After my run, I felt rejuvenated. I felt like I could take on the world. I now feel like I am ready to challenge myself to not feel guilty taking a little time for me. After all, a happy Momma means a happy family.
Join me, fellow Mommas, in this pursuit, won't you? Who's in?