I talk a lot. In almost all of my school report cards there were comments about how much better I could do academically if I spent less time talking to my peers. I can drive for hours with no radio and just chat with my fellow passengers. I don’t discriminate; I’ll chat about anything. Not only is it how I pass the time, but this is how I learn and process things I am unfamiliar with.
Looking back now, before I was a parent I would discuss parenting styles, cosleeping, breastfeeding, and more. I thought I knew what I was going to do and for sure knew the things I would NOT do. I wish I could go back and tell myself to zip it. You just don’t know what you are going to do until you are in that situation. Becoming a mother changes you in so many ways. I hope I didn’t cause any mamas to want to cut me with my uninformed opinions, and if so, my profuse apologies.
One thing I remember saying I wouldn’t do was to leave my baby overnight before he turned a year old. I have no idea why now, likely an article I read stated some dangers of doing this, so I was going to follow it and be sure not to leave my boy overnight until he was at least the big #1.
With parenting, I have learned a lot. A LOT. But here is the most important thing I have learned: you do what works best for you and your kid, period. You know them better than anyone, and there isn’t a right or wrong answer.
You cannot do what works for someone else–you can only do you, Mama.
What was right for me? When my boy was about 10 months old. I went away with some friends overnight. Now I didn’t get too crazy. I was gone for about 24 hours (to a wine tasting and Hot Air Balloon Race in Galena, IL. If you’re wondering, it was fabulous and I’m going again next year!). Did I miss my boy? Yes. Did he notice I was gone? Maybe. Is he completely traumatized from his mom abandoning him? Nopers. What will I do next time? Try to slow down and not be Judgey Mc. Judgerson and realize everyone is doing what works for them.
After my return to a big smile and sloppy kiss, I told my husband about my trip and was reminded how spending time for myself makes me a better mom. For the same reason I eat well and exercise; this time away gave me energy, keeps me mentally healthy, and is just another reminder how I am a whole person outside of being a mama. If I don’t take care of me, I cannot take care of him.
I need to find balance, and it is oh-so–important.
I want to model so many things for my son, because I know he is watching my every move. I want him to see how important friendships are. I went on this trip with my closest girlfriends. These are women I have laughed, cried, and shared my life with, as I have known them for over 25 years. I want him to see how family is not just who you are born into and those with whom you share DNA. I want him to see how you need people in your life besides your spouse, children, and parents to help mold you, inspire you, and define you. I want him to see how people and experiences are what make life important, not material things or status symbols.
Finally, I want him to see me, as a whole person, not just a mom. So someday when he is a dad, he will know how important it is to take care of himself and find his balance, too.