Have you ever felt like a rubber band that has reached its maximum stretch?! Or a sponge that’s had every drop of water squeezed from its belly? Yes? No? Maybe so?
Now, picture both of those sensations happening simultaneously as you juggle a bevy of irreplaceable china on long, spinning sticks. One, two, three…they pile higher, turning and squirming and making this impossible task even harder. Four, five, six…are we having fun yet?! No? But wait, there’s more!
Feel these feelings and juggle those plates; as if that’s not enough, here’s twenty things you must remember in your head, all the while maintaining six different conversations in varying degrees of loudness. Did I mention you must also hop on one foot?! You have two, of course, but you only get to use one. That’s fair, right?? Now, keep spinning those plates and put one hand behind your back as you do it. Want to give up yet?! But nope…you can’t! It's not an option. So, you stretch and squeeze and juggle and hop and spin and pray and hope and work. And sleep for a little bit, then repeat. Day after day after day.
This is motherhood. Sort of. And succumbing to this summation does NOT mean you don’t love your children. Quite the contrary! It’s because you do – more than words or actions could fully convey – that you put yourself through this daily crawl to the finish line, sacrificing your own comforts and losing sight of the first person you ever truly loved. Yourself.
In my case, I can say quite sincerely that I haven’t had a literal day off in almost two years. TWO YEARS! That’s well over 700 days of straight tending and giving and caring and cleaning for the three little people who make me whole and complete (all while depleting my energy and making me crazy at the same time). I can’t think of many other jobs that can go on for that much time without some sort of break happening. I mean, depending on the administration, I would say that a President may endure such feats; but, in all fairness, he also has a huge team of people at his disposal. Meanwhile, I have only one.
Last week, as I could feel these pressures mounting and the sense that I was slowly slipping off the ledge of sanity, I put my hands in the air and motioned an actual STOP. Just, stop. No more. Uncle!! I had reached my end. I wanted to pack a bag and get out of town. Maybe dye my hair, change my name, and live on the lam. Not really, but sort of. I mean, there’s only so much sibling fighting or play-doh messes that a person can endure before feeling they are about to go out of their head. So, I finally did it. I found a hotel, booked a room, packed a bag, and left the next day.
Let me tell you, one day doesn’t seem like a lot - and it’s not - but it made all the difference to me! I enjoyed the quiet. I did whatever I wanted, which didn’t amount to much more than lounging in my room, reading books, and getting cozy, but it was heavenly! The TV stayed off. The noise was next to nothing. I could hear myself think! Even better than all of that, though, I finally had a day off from cleaning any messes or serving any food. It was a day of only the things I enjoyed, which was minimal, but it was mine. I finally had quality time – uninterrupted – with myself.
Where did I go? The Moran in Houston, Texas.
What did I do? Packed four books, of which I only ended up reading one-and-a-half. (I mean, it’s always better to pack more rather than less!) At one point, I took a little break and walked around the shops at City Centre, where I bought a few things from Paper Source and ogled some of the couches at Love Sac (does anyone else hate that name?!). Also, that evening, thanks to our teen’s ability to babysit the younger two kids, my husband met me for a lovely dinner of Thai food at Yi Peng.
Pros: Being alone! Let me say this again…being alone is the BEST gift a mother could ever receive, even if it’s just for one day. Also, the hotel was nice, the breakfast was complimentary, and the atmosphere was rejuvenating. The pool was a good place to hang out even if swimming wasn’t in the cards. And I liked the aesthetics of everything.
Cons: It would have been more rejuvenating if the room had a tub, or if the hotel had a spa and/or room service, but I probably didn’t need to add to the already high price tag. One night was costly enough as it was, but I reasoned that it was one bill after two years of austerity. Also, the room faced out onto a patio bar where the crowds got a little loud around midnight, but compared to the noise I face at home, it was easy enough to roll back over and resume my sleep.
Would I go back? Are you kidding?? If it meant time off, I’d go to the moon! But I will say that next time I have a night away, I would like to get a hotel room with a tub so I could soak and read (something I never get to do at home).
All in all, when it was time to check out, I felt as though the clouds had parted and the sky seemed open with possibilities. It was nice to have a day in which the plates stopped spinning and I could catch my wheezy breath. It didn’t hurt that the weather was perfect outside (a rare feat for Houston) and there wasn’t anything pressing or urgent weighing down on me when I returned home. My good mood remained just long enough for me to get through another bedtime routine and put away another mountain of laundry. After that, normalcy resumed, and my circus act ran as though uninterrupted.
With batteries recharged, I feel like I can stave off the feelings of needing another day away for a while. Maybe not two years, but at least until my birthday in March (I hope). As I wait, counting down the days and plotting my next spot, I will keep that bag packed for the next time. Knowing that a well-earned treat is waiting around the corner will help during those rough days…even if it is one more thing to keep in my head as I juggle everything else.