Over the weekend—yes, Mother’s Day weekend—I went away by myself for a night. Sounds kind of counterintuitive, I know. Didn’t I want to wake up on Mother’s Day morning with breakfast in bed, jelly toast cut out in hearts, and little notes from my children? Weeeeeellllll. . .
I’ve had the good fortune of being a mom for about a dozen years now. And it is sweet. It really is. And the greatest gift of my life. Much as it is to all you mothers who are reading this. Graham and I look at each other sometimes in the chaos and pillow fights and yelling to come down for dinner and we say we KNOW we’re going to miss this one day when the house is quiet and everyone is off beginning their own families and pursuing their own dreams.
It’s just that it’s hard to live with right NOW.
So when Graham asked me what I really wanted for Mother’s Day, I asked for a mental health retreat. And he got it. He totally got it.
In many of our workplaces, this is called a Personal Day. Not a sick day, not a holiday. A personal day. And many of us are given a few a year here in America.
But I want to ask you, how many personal days have you taken as a mom?
If you are lucky enough to get out of town with your husband overnight, I applaud you. Good for you for making that thing work. Your marriage will be better for it. If you prioritize a few girlfriends’ weekends a year, you know I am a HUGE supporter of that. I am the #1 Fan of a good girlfriends’ weekend. I live for those things.
But no, I’m talking about a personal day. Alone. Without children, your partner or your gal pals.
What would it look like to make decisions for 24 hours that didn’t require consulting with anyone or considering how it might affect others? When I took myself away on Mother’s Day Eve, I decided where to go and for how long, what to read, where to eat, what music to listen to and at what volume. From a woman whose two-and-a-half-year-old yells at her anytime she sings in the car, I cannot tell you how freeing this was.
For 24 hours, I reintroduced myself to who I am outside my role as mother, and also outside my role as wife or daughter or teammate or friend. I remembered how much I love to pen a poem from my own hand, the joy I take in a beautiful, foamy cappuccino, how quickly I can fall into a book and drown out all other noise (thank you motherhood), and how my voice is much more even-toned and quiet with other adults than it is when speaking in sing-song to my toddler or shouting to be heard over my family:
Her Quiet Voice
(written on the eve of Mother’s Day with a simple belief in honest parenthood and a need for rest)
I’ve been using my loud voice for so many years, I’ve forgotten. What does the quiet voice sound like anyway? Perhaps it’s gone; drowned out by higher decibels and a shrill tone, always reminding, often correcting, sometimes instructing. Is this what motherhood leaves behind—a voice you hardly recognize as your own? I’d like to hear from the quiet version of myself. Feel my diaphragm rise and fall, the voice box engage, a vibration only audible to a few. Touch my throat and hear the reverberations of soft sound. Understated. Her quiet voice.
Ladies, get thee away for a mental health day. Ask for it on your next birthday. Heck, ask for it next weekend. Save your pennies for a hotel room in a neighboring city or beg, borrow and steal hotel points like I did. Eat whatever you want, go to bed whenever your want, wake up to your own internal alarm clock. Read, write, drink a glass of wine. Watch a movie. Flip through magazines. Dream. Unplug.
Re-treat yourself away and come back with greater clarity of your own worth and a strengthened agency to keep going.