When I hear fellow moms say how they miss me time or going out as much or whatnot, I try to respond appropriately. But I don’t miss it – any of it. That may sound pathetic, but it’s true.
Part of it is how ready I was for my life to change. I was a happy person before my husband and daughter. But I wanted a loving partner, and I wanted to have a family. I got both. I got both after ample time to sow my wild oats. I was out of oats.
Sometimes I feel like a different person entirely from the Sower Of Oats. I used to occasionally wish she’d sown fewer of them. But I finally understand that for whatever reason, the oats were there. If she hadn’t sown them, I don’t think I would be as happy as I am now. I’d always wonder what I was missing. I don’t have to wonder. One day I’ll make true and lasting peace with that rather large dragon tattoo she left me with. (And yes, I do often refer to past-me as a different person. Henceforth, we’ll call her SOO. Judge if you so wish.)
When I do start to feel a little frazzled with the demands of being a working mom, I find myself thinking back to my early 20’s. My couple years in DC were SOO’s heyday. But you know what pops into my head most often? Not long nights out on the town. Not hijinx or hoopla of any kind. Nope. Instead, there’s me in my tiny apartment, in my $20 Goodwill chair, with my beloved cat Lali on my lap; I’m watching Star Trek: Voyager and crocheting (badly). The apartment was 300 square feet, in a part of town no one would visit, and its view (through a barred window) was of an alley. What’s the appeal? I had no responsibilities – outside feeding Lali and scooping her box. I held two very easy jobs while I lived there, the kind you do when you have no idea what you want to do but you have a college degree. I did not think about them when I left the office. I had fewer responsibilities even than in college – no tuition bill or grades to my parents, you see. I was farther away from home, and I lived alone. I don’t remember being lonely, though apparently I was, since I got a (totally awesome) roommate my second year there. I remember just being me, doing the lamest stuff imaginable and loving it.
It was this small, but never this cool. And never ever that bright!
All my time in DC was me time. Not because I was alone. Being alone is not necessary or sufficient for true me time. It was me time because I lacked responsibility. By that definition, no time is me time now. Even when my daughter is with my parents or at daycare, there’s always the possibility of a phone call – with some question or report, be it mundane or dramatic, for which I am to be the final arbiter.
That would be some existence! Fortunately, that’s not how I feel. For the most part, I’ve simply redefined me time. For one thing, I have bothered to define it at all. And I bother to make sure I take a little on a regular basis. I know I’m getting better at it, because my mind drifts less frequently to that DC apartment.
Everyone has only so much time in a day. I have things I feel I need to do: getting food on the table, keeping us all clean and in clean clothes. That’s of course on top of working full time. (On top of professional organizations and part-time grad school.) I also need to take care of personal needs, which for me fit into three categories – 1. I need to be social in some way. 2. I need to cultivate my relationship with my husband. 3. I need to do some of the lame things I enjoyed pre-baby. (Lucky me, 2 and 3 usually go together, since I married a fellow nerd!)
For the most part, I’ve found the rest fits into one of three other categories – A. It can wait. B. You can pay other people to do it for you. C. It doesn’t need to be done.
Now, I greatly enjoy my mommy time. I have gone completely nuts on crafty projects, mostly due to Pinterest. They don’t always work out quite the way I expect, but that’s part of the fun. I love reading to her, letting her read to me, and watching her little mind work and change. Being a mom has introduced me to this whole other wonderful world.
The me time is essential though – for recharging as a mom and for maintaining myself as an individual. Being a working mom has forced me to redefine how I truly want to spend my time. I don’t have endless hours just to myself. I have to prioritize. And actually, that’s been a pretty good thing. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? I appreciate this resource of “me time” because it is limited!
I have given myself a few free passes; my C pile is pretty large but small compared to my A pile. I also take me time as I can get it. I make the most of little bits as they present themselves. My commute has become me time. I love my routine, especially my coffee! I love letting my mind just drift. Sometimes I plan out what I need to get done that day at work or that evening at home. I even plan the following week’s meals sometimes! I also get my news while I drive. I love NPR like a dear friend! Sometimes the love of mind-drifting gets in the way of the news.
I may not get my hair cut or my brows waxed as often as some women, but no less often than I did pre-baby. My last brow-wax was a last-minute decision before the grocery store. I also (usually) have hours after she goes to before I want to, so that’s when I blog, tweet, Facebook, watch a little adult TV, maybe shop online, and so on.
I didn’t consciously redefine. It happened because I redefined my priorities, also not consciously. I’d simply rather come home and make yet another handprint craft with my daughter after dinner (always on bathnight!), watch Finding Nemo yet again, put her to bed, then hang out quietly with my Hubben.
With Christmas around the corner, it’s hard not to think about what you want or need. I quickly redefined wants & needs upon entering motherhood! I can’t claim that there’s nothing I want that I don’t have. I certainly have everything I need. And, I have the things that I want most. That’s an amazing gift indeed. My grown-up Christmas wish this year is that everyone could say the same.