What every mom needs as much as she needs sleep (at least I assume this is true of most other moms) is time alone. Time, even just a few minutes, to hear the voices in your head. Time, if it’s possible, to hustle around and do all the things that are very difficult to do when little hands are pulling at your pants legs.
The need for time alone in the house came as a surprise to both Beau and me after we welcomed our firstborn home. We had been married seven years before he was born, and we were both pretty used to doing what we wanted whenever we wanted, and he totally shook up our agendas. Within the first couple months we were both desperate, and I mean desperate, for the chance to watch an adult movie on the couch without fear of the content scarring are little one’s impressionable brain. We both wanted to sit at the computer without little hands constantly reaching for the keyboard. We both wished for a shower unwatched by a pair of little eyes.
That was eight years ago. In the years since, as more children have come into our home, Beau and I have gotten more adept at juggling kids and time. We’ve also built up our stamina — or maybe I should say the kids have beat down our resistance. Now that there are four of them, we’ve found there’s relief even in splitting them up for a few hours — you take two, I’ll take two.
The big challenge, of course, continues to be time without any kids. Like I’ve said before, it’s taken us a while to fully wrap our heads around the reality that we’ve brought four little humans into the world and no one else is really responsible for them, and with that comes the realization that they have to be somewhere relatively safe all the time. Still, the occasional break from 24/7 responsibility like that is a healthy thing, and so there is the dilemma that must be solved. Beau and I have had a couple of date nights recently thanks to Grandma (more car shopping, more on that later!), and because date night doesn’t cover all our needs, we both try hard to make sure the other one occasionally gets a few hours all alone. That often looks like me heading to town with all four kids so Beau can have quiet hours in the ranch office to knock out paperwork. As for my me-time, bless Beau’s heart, he recently took all four kids with him on a parts run so I could stay home alone. They took a load of scrap metal on a flat bed and ended up waiting to unload at the recycling center for two hours! Not exactly ideal with a pickup load of kids. I think he had approximately ten more stops — including the play center at Burger King — before he made it home with them that night. I, in the meantime, was home alone… relishing the quiet.
I often have very legitimate things to do when Beau takes the kids on an adventure away from the house. I need to work on taxes. I need to get school stuff organized. I need to sort through bags of hand-me-downs without my overly helpful helpers helping.
But here’s what I’ve noticed: when Beau and the kids head out somewhere without me, they usually end up having a grand adventure. A parts run is not exactly an adventure, but hiking through the sandrocks is. Looking for arrowheads is. Calling coyotes is. And Emi’s first official bike ride to the mailbox is.
That’s the kind of stuff our kids will remember when they’re grown. And I definitely don’t want to be missing from those memories of theirs. I don’t want them to remember me as the mom who was always at the house, and either they were here with me or they weren’t. The house is where we do dishes and laundry and study and, yes, hopefully, carefully lay their foundations for healthy futures. But is the house the backdrop for awesome family memories? Not as much. The awesome memories stuff, I’m starting to think, happens outside of the house.
And I don’t want to miss it anymore. Being elbow-deep in a trash bag full of tiny clothes is not a good excuse. Staring mindlessly at a spreadsheet on the computer screen is not a good excuse. I want to be there racing them up the hill, dang it.
Sure, it’s healthy for the kids to do awesome stuff without me. It’s healthy for me to have time without them. Though there will be moments that I have to skip in order to get something big done, that I simply must miss for sanity’s sake… I don’t want to miss too much more. If it’s true what everybody says — that these little years with them will be over before we know it — then I can’t afford to miss too much.
So, time. Now that I’m not skipping out on memories, and now that I’ve decided I have to sleep… I don’t know when I’m going to get the taxes done.
But that’s another blog for another day.
© Tami Blake