Picture this, your three year old son is up an hour past his bedtime. He’s not in his pajamas yet. In fact, he’s wearing no pants and no diaper. You are trying to leave the house to meet up with a girlfriend for dinner and drinks, time to unwind and talk about whatever you want without having to spell out any words, not j-u-i-c-e, or c-o-o-k-i-e-s, not anything. You can order your margarita and Mexican food and swear up a storm, talk about sex, complain about your holidays, really, whatever you want, no censoring yourself. You are about to go out with that kind of friend.
But your husband had an emergency at work and was up all night and is exhausted. Your no-pants, no-diaper wearing kid, upon hearing that you are going to leave him with his dad for bedtime while you venture outside the house shouts, “You don’t have to go, ” shaking his head. He barrels off the love seat and onto your lap.” The answer is no,” he declares as he wags his finger adamantly. Do you leave the house?
If you’re taking care of yourself, you do. I had to fight some voices, the ones telling me that Cavanaugh really was asking for attention from me, that knew I was out for three hours this afternoon running errands to get ready for our upcoming trip. He didn’t have me for part of the day and now I wasn’t going to be there for bedtime either. Then he asked if some monsters were going to come to the house. And said, “Are there going to be no rollers this night?” a refrain we’ve heard since a nightmare he had about a steamroller over two months ago.
And what about my husband who was at work all night? Should I really be waking him from the afternoon nap he took while I watched a friend’s son so she and her husband could have a movie date?
How easy it would have been to think about both Mike’s and Cavanaugh’s needs above my own, above my friend’s, the one who was on her way to the restaurant my son was ordering me not to go to. Then I reminded myself about the day I’d had, something it’s so easy for mamas to forget to do.
I woke up at 3 a.m. and found a text message that my husband would likely be gone all night, couldn’t fall back asleep for over 30 minutes, did the same thing at 4:30 and again a little after 6. Just as I got back to sleep the last time, Cavanaugh woke up and wouldn’t fall back asleep. I tried giving him water, realized his diaper had leaked, gave him new pants, nothing would get him to lie still and go back to sleep, not even the lack of sunlight or reminder that the sun was still sleeping.
So, even though I went to bed earlier than usual last night, I had interrupted- and too-little sleep and was dragging today, but spent most of the day without help because my husband was gone then needed a nap.
I considered calling my friend to cancel. I was sleepy after all. But I knew that tonight was my night to go, that I’m leaving town in five days and if I didn’t do it now, I probably wouldn’t do it for another month. I gave Cavanaugh an upside-down carry to bed, made up a great story about monsters looking so sad because they’re hungry and might want some quinoa or yogurt. Mike took over with talking about food that is green and I made my exit.
A decent dinner and great conversation later, I took care of myself today by acknowledging that my needs were just as important than the rest of my family’s. Beyond knowing it, I actually acted to meet my needs by taking two and a half hours to sit with a friend and be myself, whether that meant talking about mothering or all the other parts of me. I highly recommend it.
When’s the last time you went out with a friend, just the two of you?