The first time I dropped off my son at preschool, I acted strong and gave him a big hug and kiss before he eagerly scampered off on the playground to make new friends. I watched my baby, well, not really being a baby anymore.
Instead, I was the baby.
As soon as I made it into my car, I fell apart into a deflated mess of a mommy. I was ugly crying, sobbing, feeling nauseous, and wondering how he was going to be without me for two and a half hours. Would he be ok? Would he need me? Would he miss me? Would he know that I missed him?
I am sure if the seasoned parents who were dropping off their kindergarteners witnessed this silly spectacle, they just chuckled and reminisced about the first time they dropped off their babies, too. Or, they just thought I was a raving lunatic, and in that case, totally fair assumption.
As I pulled out of the parking lot, listening to sad 80s music (I believe it was “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” by Starship), gagging like Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber and fighting off the rampant fears and thoughts flooding my mind, I suddenly realized that I didn’t know what *I* was going to do for two hours.
Wait, what was this? Free time? Huh?
I had TWO hours? To myself? To do what I wanted?!
I could not remember the last time I had free time. Unabated free time. Probably before my son was born four years ago?
I realized I could do absolutely nothing if I wanted to…and it was going to be everything I thought it could be.
Granted, I scrambled to do all. the. things. and failed miserably at actually doing nothing, but that’s ok. Twice a week, I get to work on it; I get to work on myself.
It has been amazing getting some extra gym time. Or quiet writing time. Or grocery shopping in a half hour or less and not hearing whiny pleas for candy or junk. Or going to Kohl’s and actually browsing a bit without fear of a toddler meltdown.
I used to feel guilty. I vividly remember crying my eyes out that first time I left him at preschool. But then I realized I could pee by myself without him busting through with his trains. Or I could eat some eggs without his little hands pilfering them off my plate. (My dog still stares longingly at me with his intense “Make me some chicken” look while I eat, but I can handle that.)
On preschool days, I can breathe a little easier. I can think full, beautiful, uninterrupted thoughts.
Dropping my toddler off, although still different in light of how much time we have spent together since he was born, has become easier and easier.
Once driving away, sad music is now replaced with upbeat, party tunes as I am on my way to mommy “me” time! I have zero shame in admitting that DMX is no stranger to my car radio. PARTY UP! (But yes, I turn it down at red lights when cars are beside me. Tee hee).
I think the best part of this transformation into accepting the changes and getting to know myself again is how I also know that my boy is having a total blast at preschool. He is learning, playing, socially interacting and making a mess in someone else’s space…brilliant!
And when I pick him up, I really can’t wait to see him and hug/smush him and hear all about his time at preschool. When he hands me artwork he made or tells me, “I had so much fun today, Mommy,” my heart is truly full. It’s a win-win for both of us.
As parents and role models, taking care of ourselves IS so important. If we neglect our own health, mental or physical, it does take a toll.
Craving some “me” time doesn’t make us bad moms or dads. It is totally normal, and it does not mean we love our kids any less. In fact, taking care of ourselves ultimately helps our kids…we are less cranky, more refreshed and even more eager to be around them since we had some time away.
Inevitably, it takes a toll if we don’t carve out that “me” time once in a while. (DMX reminds us we’re all gonna lose our minds. Up in here. Up in here.)
So. as the cliche goes, “Happy mom, happy everyone! Okay, so that’s not a cliche people use, but…nonetheless, it’s mostly true.
What’s your favorite “me” time go-to?!