I did something crazy this past weekend…something I never felt able to or comfortable doing during Ryan’s last deployment. I booked a babysitter, left my three babies in her overly capable hands, and left midday on Saturday for some much needed me time. I’ve learned over the years that making time for self-care and mental health days are absolutely imperative, but one thing that’s always been extra hard as a solo parent when Ryan is gone is actually taking the time – and energy – to prioritize that.
There are always going to be things that seem more pressing. Some days are going to seem downright inconvenient, but here’s the thing; while it may seem trivial and insignificant in the moment, it pays for itself in spades down the road. I wasn’t gone long. I left for a few hours on a dreary, rainy Saturday, ordered my kiddos pizza for a treat, and left them with one of their favorite people. Mieke is still my outlier because, though she takes a bottle, there’s always that worry in the back of my mind that she wouldn’t do it when tested. But she did, and I needn’t have worried.
As mothers and, at times, fathers, we tend to put everyone else’s needs above our own. Spencer, Porter, and Mieke are all at an age where they’re reliant upon me for some stability during this deployment. However, if I don’t have balance in my own personal life, I can’t offer that for them, no matter how hard I might try.
And guess what; I didn’t have big plans. I thought about going to see a movie, but it felt trivial. I wanted to spend the time doing something I might otherwise not be able to. I walked every aisle of Target slowly as I ran my errands. I browsed. I drank a cup of coffee while it was still hot. I mean, what? I ordered myself a meal to eat once the kids were in bed that evening. These things are unheard of with kiddos in tow, and it was absolute heaven.
And when I went home, I was so ready to love on my babies. My mind was clear, and my heart was full. I felt refreshed – like I actually existed again. It’s very easy as a parent to lose your identity in the act of parenting, but making time for self-care ensures that you as an individual, exist outside of your role as a parent. I came back ready to be a better mama, and I think my littles could feel that.
At the end of the day, you cannot pour from an empty cup. I cannot give my kids that which I don’t have myself, and reminding myself of that by making time for self-care gave me the boost I needed for this three-day weekend. Motherhood is hard. Parenting is hard, but I’ve learned in my four-plus years as a mama that I, too, matter in this equation.
Have a wonderful Memorial Day, my friends. I can’t wait to read about all your fun adventures – and share ours this week!