Guest Post by MomGAL expert, Theresa Robbins
Last weekend, for the first time since I became a mom, I spent the weekend home alone. For years my husband has been saying that he plans to take the boys camping, but year after year, he doesn’t follow through.
So when we ended up at Bass Pro Shop purchasing a tent and other assorted camping items, I started to get a little excited. When he waterproofed the tent, I rejoiced.
At first it was a lot of “Whoo Hoo!” and “This is so gonna rock!” spinnin’ around in my head, but then I realized there was so much more to this situation than a weekend alone.
This was my chance to see who I am without the story of I’m a wife and mom.
I have spent years – years! – learning about who I really am but all this learning has still taken place within the scope of being a wife and mom. Sure I’ve been away for the weekend, but never, never have I stayed in my normal life while the wife and mom role packed up and left me alone with myself.
Being an ever curious adventurer I found the weekend to be the perfect situation to learn more about myself. But it suddenly occurred to me that I might be tempted to judge myself in regards to the outcome.
After all, a little more than 3 years ago I was a miserable, unhappy mess of a wife and mom. What if I suffered withdrawal symptoms? What if I was really uncomfortable being home alone without those roles? What if I didn’t like being alone with myself.
I could remember times in the past when my husband had suggested he take the kids to visit his family back east and I’d been horrified by the idea of being without them. What if I was miserable without them now? Ugh.
So I decided to take judgment out of the equation by treating the weekend as an experiment. I made a pact to be a scientist in my life and simply observe the results. I wanted to observe where I had grown and where perhaps more growth was warranted.
With the intention of learning without judgment.
I hypothesized that I had grown so much that things would be pretty darned good. I really didn’t expect to be miserable without the wife and mom role.
Then they pulled out of the driveway, I walked into the house, stopped and thought, “Now what?” I hadn’t planned anything so I decided to just do whatever came to me.
I ended up doing things I never would have allowed myself to do if my family had been home. I ate a small dinner salad and a piece (or two) of baklava for dinner. I never would have thought of watching tv much less a couple of reality shows about strong, powerful women, but I did. I read magazines that have been sitting around for months. I talked to my girlfriend about making time to do things together without our kids. I stayed up as late as I wanted, exercised when I wanted, and allowed myself to socialize, nap, read, watch a chick flick, swim, go to a friend’s house to play cards, and even balance my checkbook.
It was glorious. It was freeing. And never once did I worry about my husband or children, think about calling them, feel empty or lost without them or feel like I had to hurry home because someone was waiting for me.
This was a huge relief.
For the first time, I didn’t need the roles of wife and mom to define me. I felt perfectly content being home alone with Me for several days. I knew and trusted who I was, relaxed and did what I wanted to do. I chose it all and never once felt any pressure to do any thing.
At the same time, I observed that in some areas I still struggle. I still often put the perceived wants of my family first and disregard my own though not nearly to the extent that I once did. I still struggle with allowing myself to socialize and have guilt-free girl time.
I still struggle with saying Yes to me when I really want to.
And this is good to know.
Because now that I can see the problems more clearly, I can do something about them -without self-judgment, guilt or fear.
I can see the silly expectations I put on myself based on my ideas about being a wife and mom.
I can kick them to the curb.
I can make my life better.
I can learn to accept myself more fully.
I can improve my relationship with myself.
And since someday the wife and mom role might pack up and move out, it’s comforting to know that I’ll never truly be home alone.